Emerald Blog

Stories, Tips And Tricks From Our Team’s Experiences With Primavera Since 1995

Why You Should Upgrade From Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis to Safran Risk – Part 6

I’m Ian Nicholson, VP Solutions at Emerald Associates. I have been working with Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis (OPRA) since 2001 when it was Pertmaster, Emerald being the exclusive Canadian distributor for Pertmaster until their acquisition by Primavera in 2006.

In this series of blogs, I will explain why I feel that all OPRA users should upgrade to Safran Risk (SR).

Why You Should Upgrade From Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis to Safran Risk – Part 5

I’m Ian Nicholson, VP Solutions at Emerald Associates. I have been working with Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis (OPRA) since 2001 when it was Pertmaster, Emerald being the exclusive Canadian distributor for Pertmaster until their acquisition by Primavera in 2006.

In this series of blogs, I will explain why I feel that all OPRA users should upgrade to Safran Risk (SR).

Is the P6-QA Tool Only Relevant During Your Planning Phase? Absolutely Not!

Something we are asked is whether our P6-QA Tool is useful through-out the life cycle of your projects. Its use throughout the planning phase is obvious, of course; it helps with schedule development. Even after you’ve planned out your work though, the QA tool can help while you’re executing your plans. Let us examine a couple examples of how.

Keep in mind - it is beneficial to equip your team with the best tools for the job! Work Smarter, Not Harder!

Scenario 1

During the execution of our schedule, our team loads found work using P6-Loader. Our team didn’t omit any information required by the P6-Loader template. That’s definitely a good start, but just doing that isn’t checking specific schedule quality. The P6-QA tool removes the burden of manual schedule and business process analysis by automatically identifying deficiencies in Primavera P6 schedules based on scheduling best practices, industry standards such as the Defense Contract Management Agency’s (DCMA) 14-point assessment, and user introduced business process requirements.

Your schedule requires the ability to conduct its designated tasks. You are probably wondering 'what tasks'? For example, our schedule needs to reflect the execution plan, contain regular updates and provide the basis for project schedule reports.

Where does the P6-QA tool fit in? You might think you’re done after updating your schedule, but are your updates complete and correct? All execution schedules require regular updates and then analysis after the updates. Imagine having to manually review your updates every day. You’d lose a lot of valuable time! The P6-QA Tool can assist with finding errors that can occur in the information uploaded to your schedule and the information entered in updates.

Imagine that during the update process, someone accidentally enters an incorrect completion date on an activity - this date is past the data date. In the P6-QA Tool, the negative float would automatically be flagged by DCMA07 in the P6-QA Tool, Negative Float Check.

Another update entry is a logic change required by a change in the execution plan for a couple of work packages. The change is not entered correctly, and therefore when the logic is entered it produces negative float in the schedule.

The logic entered produces negative float in the schedule.

In the P6-QA Tool, the incorrect completion date would be automatically flagged by DCMA09a in the P6-QA Tool, Actual Date (s) After Project DD check.

Here’s a project level display example:

Activity level example:

The desk top icons make locating activities you need to address quick and easy. You can sort, filter and use the icons in group and sort to create detailed layouts making identification of the checks to revisit expeditious.

Another one of our tools, the P6-Loader, creates reports in the project notebook. Some examples of report information from the two checks that did not pass the criteria are below. The report contains all the checks that have passed and failed.

We looked at a couple of the list of DCMA checks the P6-QA Tool runs - there are plenty of other checks as well. The list below contains Business Process Validations run in the P6-QA Tool. These are some common issues, quickly highlighted by P6-QA Tool.

Scenario 2

Say your schedule is not progressing as planned - we need to create a couple of potential mitigation plans (what if scenarios). With the P6-QA tool, you can create copies of your schedule and test them with your proposed fixes. Once you’ve done this, you can address the findings to increase schedule quality maintenance. You set the parameters around the checks.

Above is a display of the parameter settings for the two checks we visited in scenario 1. (We used defaults to run scenario 1.) Being able to set your own parameters means you check your specific requirements, not a preset list of parameters you need to sort through later for applicability.

As you can see, the P6-QA tool remains relevant during your entire project. Empower your team with the best tools for the job with Emerald’s P6-QA Tool.

Why You Should Upgrade From Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis to Safran Risk – Part 4

I’m Ian Nicholson, VP Solutions at Emerald Associates. I have been working with Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis (OPRA) since 2001 when it was Pertmaster, Emerald being the exclusive Canadian distributor for Pertmaster until their acquisition by Primavera in 2006.

In this series of blogs, I will explain why I feel that all OPRA users should upgrade to Safran Risk (SR).

Why You Should Upgrade From Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis to Safran Risk – Part 3

I’m Ian Nicholson, VP Solutions at Emerald Associates. I have been working with Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis (OPRA) since 2001 when it was Pertmaster, Emerald being the exclusive Canadian distributor for Pertmaster until their acquisition by Primavera in 2006.

In this series of blogs, I will explain why I feel that all OPRA users should upgrade to Safran Risk (SR).

Why You Should Upgrade From Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis to Safran Risk – Part 2

I’m Ian Nicholson, VP Solutions at Emerald Associates. I have been working with Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis (OPRA) since 2001 when it was Pertmaster, Emerald being the exclusive Canadian distributor for Pertmaster until their acquisition by Primavera in 2006.

In this series of blogs, I will explain why I feel that all OPRA users should upgrade to Safran Risk (SR).

Part 2: User Interface

In my last blog post, I discussed the technology used in OPRA vs SR. As I mentioned in that blog, the biggest complaint that we hear about OPRA is that the technology cannot support a large risk model. The second most common complaint that we hear is that the user interface is clunky and moving reports and layouts from one model to another in order to generate consistent outputs is tedious.

When OPRA (at the time called Pertmaster) was re-introduced as a Risk Analysis tool in 2001 (it had previously been a CPM scheduling tool), it had a pretty decent user interface (UI) for the time. It looked like a typical CPM scheduling tool that had an extra “Risk” menu for Risk inputs and extra items added under the “Reports” menu for Risk outputs.

For most risk users of the time, the UI was fine because Schedule Risk Analysis (SRA) was a new and relatively immature concept that was performed infrequently by relatively few people. These users would learn where to find the required items in the Risk and Reports menus. Hey, if you could master P3 or Artemis, Pertmaster should have been a walk in the park! Besides, compared to Primavera’s Monte Carlo add-on, Pertmaster’s UI was a big step forward in usability.

OPRA's Risk Menu

OPRA's Risk Menu

OPRA Reports menu

OPRA Reports menu

After nearly 20 years of SRA, things have changed significantly. We now have defined risk maturity models, organizations have made SRA part of their project management methodology, and project teams build their own risk models. More people need to be able to work in the tool and getting them up to speed quickly and easily requires a logical workflow inside the tool.

When Safran developed Safran Risk (SR), they used their experience of the original Pertmaster’s development to modernize their new tool’s User Interface and make it easier for users to understand and learn. The first step that they took was to change from a menu based input model to a workflow based model. This means that SR has replaced the menu based system with a tab based sequential workflow system. The user moves from left to right as they build the risk model.

Safran Risk tab based navigation

The other item of note here is that all of the functionality of Safran’s scheduling tool is also here (a big advantage of building the risk engine on top of the scheduling package). Users can create layouts and filters and share them between users and projects, making application of standard processes and reports much easier than in OPRA.

Does an updated UI make the upgrade worthwhile? Not in and of itself, but it does make training new users much easier and makes it much less likely that a user will miss a step in the process. I personally find that Safran’s UI just makes everything easier. I still occasionally talk to P3 users who recall that its UI was the best ever, but I doubt that they would want to go back and work with it today. I’d love to have a classic sports car (say a TR6) in my garage, but I sure wouldn't want to have to drive one to work in the Canadian winter!

In my next blog post, I’ll discuss the benefits of integrated cost and schedule risk analysis.

Why You Should Upgrade From Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis to Safran Risk – Part 1

I’m Ian Nicholson, VP Solutions at Emerald Associates. I have been working with Oracle Primavera Risk Analysis (OPRA) since 2001 when it was Pertmaster, as Emerald was the exclusive Canadian distributor for Pertmaster until their acquisition by Primavera in 2006.

In this series of blogs, I will explain why I feel that all OPRA users should upgrade to Safran Risk Analysis (SR).

Peace of Mind in the Cloud

The Cloud is a remarkable and innovative tool. It connects people from around the world, allows us to share fun vacation pictures and adorable videos of our pets, and offers a massive network that can process any and all data under the sun.

But as anyone who's ever had to use the back end of a Cloud program can tell you, it can quickly get complicated, leading to far too many headaches and sleepless nights trying to figure out what's going wrong. We could tell many horror stories about hours spent hunched over our computers just begging our systems to work the way we want - and I bet you could too!

So when one of our clients approached us looking to evaluate their options with Cloud software, we knew how they felt. At the time, they had been using on-premise servers, but were looking to upgrade to a database with more features at a reasonable price. They had considered Software as a Service (SaaS), but found the price of such an upgrade to be too steep to be a realistic option.

Luckily, we had previously agonized over the same decision and were able to offer our personal server in the Cloud; EAI hosted by OVH, as an alternative with a much lower price than the SaaS system Oracle offered.

Our client was also in sore need of maintenance services. Before they came to us, they had been operating, maintaining, and repairing their own cloud servers with only a handful of IT specialists who were unfamiliar with Primavera to begin with. As you can imagine it was slow, frustrating work, and when things broke down it could be days before they got everything up and running again. So when we suggested the EAI server, they were quick to take advantage of our services.

Now that they've moved to EAI, our client is able to enjoy the benefits of Cloud without the hassle that comes with sustaining their database. Emerald Associates handles the maintenance, repair, and operation of EAI, and offers on-sight visits and training for our client's entire team so that they will have the familiarity with Primavera that is so crucial in today's business environment. We have been working together with this particular client for the past 3 to 4 years now to keep their servers in the Cloud running smoothly and efficiently, giving them the freedom to spend their time and energy on what really matters - their business.

Client Experiences #2 - No More Outdated Software

We've all worked with frustrating, outdated software. It's a pain to try and get everything to work the way you want it to, and the task is usually just too important or time-sensitive to take a break from. Everyone knows where that leads - yelling, cursing, or just slouching down in your chair in defeat, bested by technology once again.

Client Experiences #1 - Massive Upgrade

When I first started working with our new client, I started out as a general trainer for the company’s employees. Our work began with typical P6 stuff, nothing new or especially exciting, but it was the start of a longer, more involved relationship with our client. I started helping them with turnarounds back in 2013 and I've been doing turnarounds with them every year since. I recently finished my 6th turnaround with the company - an 11-12 week long process that honestly felt a lot longer than it was. Due to a problem organizing the order of units, we ran overtime, and that was unfortunately just one of the many issues we had to deal with during that turnaround.

As is often the case, a good amount of the complications we faced were unintentionally self-inflicted. Our client runs under an alliance contract umbrella with another organization that controls their project management and general processes. This organization had decided to do a major upgrade to P6 just a few weeks ahead of the turnaround execution. This naturally caused a lot of complications, as the workers involved in the turnaround had to do a lot of scrambling to figure out the bugs in the untested upgrades while simultaneously dealing with the turnaround itself, which was no easy task. On top of this, the upgrade to P6 wasn't just a standard upgrade - it was a move from version 6.2 to version 17, which is a big jump on any given day, but right before a turnaround... It was disastrous. There were all sorts of issues, including considerable trouble upon first-log in, and it created a lot of stress - way more than even on the typical turnaround! Units were in shutdown, people were pulling 12 and a half hour long shifts, the site was an hour away from where most of the personnel were stationed, IT issues were causing immense frustration - it seemed like everything that could go wrong did.

Now, I've been in quite a few panicked, rushed environments over my 8 years of turnaround assistance, and this could easily have been one of them, but luckily the majority of the schedulers dealt with it very well, keeping their heads despite the setbacks we faced. And as for me - I went in with my usual mentality: get it done. So despite the constant uphill battle, we managed to pull everything together and get through the turnaround with our sanity intact. Overall, it wasn't the easiest turnaround I've ever been a part of, but complications are part of the job, and I'm happy to say that another yearly turnaround with our client went by successfully - if maybe a little bumpier than usual!

P6-QA in the Real World

Before becoming an implementation specialist at Emerald Associates, I was a project manager and P6 administrator in a state government transportation agency for several years. I was responsible for managing 50-60 Primavera P6-EPPM (Web) project schedules and monitoring them to schedule completion. These projects were for the engineering and design of highway projects including tasks such as road maintenance, new road construction, bridge maintenance, and signals upgrades.

P6 Caching - Not Ready for Prime Time

We have been using P6 v18.x with several clients and have seen some differing behavior related to caching. It appears the problem may have started as early as P6 v16.x. These clients are in varying environments; P6 Oracle SaaS, EAI Hosted, and on-premise - In short, anywhere where Oracle Cloud Connect is utilized.

We were excited to see the new form of caching that appeared in v17.x. We have clients with poor internet access and P6Web is not adequate for their needs - they need P6 Client. Everyone knows that P6 Client is very chatty and needs good bandwidth to work properly, so the idea that we can cache data and do heavy lifting on our desktop rather than on the server far away was great.

Are You Importing Unwanted RISK TYPES?

Remember our good old friend the POBS Table? Well, we have a new friend in town that is introducing itself to our database in the form of the RISKTYPE table. We have discovered numerous clients are importing XER files to their database that include a large number of Risk Categories, sometimes tens of thousands of them. No one knows where they originated, but they are multiplying and wreaking havoc.

The problem comes when an export file is created with unwanted Risk Types and imported into another database, creating more values in the destination database. The destination database then could share their large number of Risk Types to another database. Each time, the RISKTYPE table is passed along, it grows, spreading and infecting more and more databases.

P6-Scrubber - Keep Your P6 Clean!

Introducing our Latest Primavera P6 Add-on

Are you importing schedules into scrubbing databases, taking out all the unwanted data you don't want to pollute your production database, re-exporting the schedule and then importing it into the database where it should have gone in the first place?

Do you have required specifications your contractors need to follow for their schedules, but have a hard time knowing whether those details are missing or incorrect until you've already imported them?

Do you want to ensure you are not importing POBS tables and corrupted RISKTYPE tables?

That's a lot of quality assurance to do! Maintaining your corporate data standards for dashboarding and reporting can be a full time job, especially when project teams have their own coding structures and requirements for their P6 Environment.

Don't worry; there's relief. Emerald has developed a new tool that will do all that work for you! We are now introducing P6-Scrubber.

ZOHO-P6 Integration

When a new client request comes in, you can create a project from ZOHO CRM. For us projects come in several categories and we have task list templates ready to be used to create tasks to charge to. Typically the first task list is Business Development. We kick off with that and assign the team working on the initiative. We can then send the project, the task list, the tasks and the resources into P6. We can do that in one step or two depending on the task list development. In this case we have a good idea of the scope of work and were able to put it together with 2 task lists. So we can integrate bot the project and the WBS/tasks and resources right away. So we use a really simple user interface tight in ZOHO projects to kick this off into P6. We tell the integration to send both the project and WBS over. Once that is done, we can go into P6 and start actionining the work. We also get a message letting us know if there were any issues with the intgration, such as a duplicate project exisiting. If all is good, you should get a PASS message both for the project and for the WBS.