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Replacing Primavera - best alternative?

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David Hunter
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Hi all,

I currently work at a company where, as of September, there is no longer going to be a requirement for a planner within the company (that planner being me!). Myself and several other colleagues in Project Controls will leave the company due to enforced redundancies.

The impact of this is that our Primavera will be "switched off" but part of my handover before leaving is to allow engineers to do some of their own scheduling and, ideally, the resource management/loading that Primavera obviously provides.

My initial thought was Microsoft Project - I have exported a small project from P6 into Project and on first glance (without checking the nuts and bolts of the relationships, logic etc) it looks ok. In a perfect world I'd be able to export all current schedules to MS Project, give the engineers some basic training, set them up on a license and let them take it from there.

Do any of you have any other ideas on how to apprach it?

Thanks in advance,

David

Replies

Bogdan Leonte
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Hello,

I have been looking at Synchro for a couple of days now. Every software has it's strenghts and weakneses. From what I saw Synchro resembles more Primavera than MS Project from the 2D scheduling point of view. It's main focus is the capability of importing any type of 3D model and using it in order to plan the project using CPM.

However Rafael may be right about it's resource leveling capabilities. I used his sample model and here is what I got:

  • CPM Schedule

5480
unleveled.jpg

https://ibb.co/fVYhVH
As you can see the Finish milestone is linked to driven by Activity 6, when leveling (both with optimization and without) I get the following:

  •   Resource Constrained Schedule (With "Try Optimization", whatever that means)

5481
leveled.jpg

https://ibb.co/ern4cx

I don't understand why the Finish milestone didn't move??? and why didn't the critical path update, even though it is set to update automatically???

I am going to assume that I don't fully undestand the software before I will conclude that the resource leveling is beyond bad.

If anybody can get a better resource constrained schedule please post it and explain how it was obtained, what settings were used.

Best Regards,
Bogdan

Rafael Davila
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Andrew,

  • I imported MSP XML file for the following simple schedule to test the resource modeling and leveling capabilities and it does not works as expected.  Cannot even find how to fix it. 

Aurora01

 

Aurora02

  • To be honest I do not like the software at all.
  • Too expensive as a substitute to MSP. $2,995/user/year. - No way.
  • Synchro_Cost
  • I consider P6 resource modeling poor, therefore I do not see much difference between P6 and MSP.
  • If looking for a 4D modeling tool, because resource planning using different software will yield different schedule dates, I would look for 4D software that can import the activities and dates from the more advanced software such as Spider Project without attempting to change the results of the more advanced model.  If Synchro can do this and you are among the few who need 4D visualization tool then you shall take a look at Planning Planet Synchro Forum. 
Rafael Davila
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Andrew,

Yes the License is not for commercial use. But instead of for instance Asta where you have only 30 days trial period or TILOS where you have limit of 10 activities - this is fully functional package available for 1 year to try.

  • Makes sense, 1 year to try is good enough.

XER - indeed there is no support for XER import because this format is old (despite it's still widely used).
For instance P6 EPPM also doesn't have XER import/export functionality.
https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E17266_01/p6help/help/en/helpmain.htm?toc.htm

Instead Oracle advise to use newer XML format for data exchange. Synchro has ability to import P6 XML files and also it can connect to DB Server (either MS Sql or Oracle). So for planner there is no problem to transfer schedule into Synchro.

  • Agree, XML format is the way to go but XER is still relevant. 

For the leveling please check the Help Topic "Resource Leveller". You can add "Extra" ribbon to see the button.

  • Got the "Extra" ribbon. 
  • Help says for resource levelling activities should not be linked. What does it means with regard to my sample test schedule? Can you post the file? I am having issues with creating the model so that leveling will delay some of the activities as shown in my image.  I must be doing something wrong. 
  • It looks it does not level quantity but effort, even when it has a resource count field. (?)  The partial workload sample schedule Slide 5 on next presentation can be an initial test to explore how reliable resource count is. 
  • Cpm schedules - resource quantities and workloads from Rafael Davila
  • On the field we communicate resource quantity not effort, communication is essential.

Startup is slow - I'd agree on that one but remember, this is more than scheduling software - it also connects BIM into schedule. So it's quite resource demanding software.

  • That was my suspicion.

Thank you for your prompt response.

Rafael

Andrew Podolny
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Hi Rafael.

Yes the License is not for commercial use. But instead of for instance Asta where you have only 30 days trial period or TILOS where you have limit of 10 activities - this is fully functional package available for 1 year to try.

XER - indeed there is no support for XER import because this format is old (despite it's still widely used).
For instance P6 EPPM also doesn't have XER import/export functionality.
https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E17266_01/p6help/help/en/helpmain.htm?toc.htm...

Instead Oracle advise to use newer XML format for data exchange. Synchro has ability to import P6 XML files and also it can connect to DB Server (either MS Sql or Oracle). So for planner there is no problem to transfer schedule into Synchro.

For the leveling please check the Help Topic "Resource Leveller". You can add "Extra" ribbon to see the button.

Startup is slow - I'd agree on that one but remember, this is more than scheduling software - it also connects BIM into schedule. So it's quite resource demanding software.

Regards,
Andrew

Rafael Davila
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Andrew,

  • In order to test the resource leveling capabilities I am using the following simple model, cannot be any easier.
  • How can I get the best resource leveled schedule using Synchro?

Aurora01

  • There are 5 Resource A available to work at the same time.
  • The green bars show unleveled schedule.
  • The reb bars show leveld schedule activities are all resource critical.

Aurora02

  • Out of the Box Spider Project gives me the optimal or near-optimal resource leveld schedule while P6 and MSP cannot. 
  • I wonder about Synchro.

Best Regards,

Rafael

 

Rafael Davila
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Andrew,

As suggested I downloaded Synchro but cannot do basic resource leveling, can you give me a hint?

Also please note:

  • License is not for commercial use.
  • Cannot import XER files.
  • Startup is painfully slow.

Best Regards,

Rafael

Andrew Podolny
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Hi David. Consider this software as replacement to MSP. It has seamless integration with P6, MSP, ASTA.  This is 4D scheduling software but they provide the 2D Gantt chart project planning and scheduling software free license for 1 year. And it's really the deal breaker for me. Scheduling abilities exceed the P6 and the graphical appearance is better than Asta. This is my personal opinion. But I'd strongly recommend you to give it a try. 

https://www.synchroltd.com/products-2/synchro-scheduler/

Best Regards,

Andrew

Tom Boyle
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Santosh,

The majority of MSP's user base are completely incompetent by PP standards, and the tool reflects many decisions to accommodate these incompetent users while still supporting the few professionals.  For most people with MSP installed on their computers (through a corporate volume license), I suspect it remains a tool for quickly drawing a "professional-looking" bar chart to impress the boss or customer - as it has been for 25 years.  Your two numbered frustrations reflect the accommodations to these users.  By the way, hierarchical sequencing logic (including logic on summaries) could be presented as a key differentiater for MSP and is attractive from a certain point of view.  It's just too dangerous in practice....

I absolutely agree with your frustration re. the reliance on the task ID field, which is ultimately too volatile for reliable referencing.  Combined with the tendency of many users (even experienced professionals) to use duplicated task names everywhere, this can make the task predecessor and successor panes useless in even moderately-sized projects. 

Santosh Bhat
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David,

 

My biggest frustrations with MS Project are schedules that are developed with 

1) No logic, or missing logic. That is, the user simply positions bars where they want them to be

2) Linking to/from summary bars - this shouldn't be allowed to happen!

and also the way that MSP contantly changes the Task ID's based simply on the position in the list. Yes you can use Unique ID as the ID field, but thats not the reference field for a lot of other requirements.

David Hunter
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Thanks all. It seems that Project is the route that I'll go down. I don't actually have any experience of Project so I'm learning as I go along. So it's quite difficult replacing P6 with something you aren't familiar with, then rolling it out to people and act like an expert. I can only do my best I suppose!

Santosh Bhat
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Vladimir, agreed. Even in the case of clients, its not so much the clients themselves, but the consultants they engage who will specify the contractual requirements.

 

I think the industry would go a long way if the contract requirements were outcomes based, for example: Electronic provsion f a CPM scheduel that meets XYZ, rather than simply "P6 XER file submission".

Santosh,

unfortunately most planners do not have an authority to select their scheduling tools. P6 is and will be used due to contract requirements. In other case many planners would select other tools like Spider Project, Asta or Safran now.

Santosh Bhat
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I feel this is question that many planners we'll be asking over the next few years...
Rafael Davila
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  • Say one resource is a crane and another is a crane operator, you cannot schedule crane and crane operator at different times.  This is an issue Asta PP could not handle efficiently.  This is a very simple case, in more complex cases it could become harder or impossible to work around it. Please follow/click the link: Asta PP Resource Usage Plan
  • Maybe Microsoft Project can get it right.  MSP is not my favorite but might be good enough for your needs.  

I use Spider Project for more demanding needs; in many occasions P6 just falls short, because my scheduling needs require complex models the tool I use must be more capable.  Although more capable than P6 I find it easier to use when the model becomes complex as it frequently happens in construction schedules.

Enhanced Resource Planning from Rafael Davila

 

Good Luck.

Alexandre Faulx-B...
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Zoltan,

Powerproject is not only "good"; this software is even better and more powerfull than Primavera P6!

Many interesting features available in PP and not in P6, better scheduling engine, ... you should have a try

And the AstaDev team is really responsive

Alexandre

Zoltan Palffy
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I heard ASTA is good 

Chris Bragg
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Hello David,

A strange situation indeed.  I suggest you look at Safran Project (safran.com) as a useful tool for replacing Primavera.  You can import XER files directly.  Safran also fully supports cost loading, etc., very much in line with Primavera capabilities, but in addition can handle schedule risk, within the same tool, and easily track changes/variations, what if scenarios, etc., and soem godo reporting functionality.

They have desktop based and cloud versions now.

 

Alexandre Faulx-B...
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Hi David,

I suggest you have a look at PowerProject:

more powerfull and plenty of interesting functionnalities than Primavera P6; 

available on stand-alone or client-server versions;

half the price of Primavera P6 stand-alone

and at SpiderProject also; less easy to use than PowerProject, but maybe the number one, you should ask Rafael

Alexandre

David Hunter
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Cheers Tom. Yes a pretty bizarre situation! MS Project is the preferred option it would seem - if my schedules (around 100 reasonably small work packages) can be simply exported from P6 into Project then great, and I'll give the engineers some basic training on MSP (once I'm up to speed with it - never really used it myself!).

I think the first job will be to evaluate the quality of the export into MSP and take it from there. Thanks again for the message.

David

Rafael Davila
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Rafael Davila
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Another source of problem might be when exporting constraints, their implementation is a little different, also MSP cannot work with two constraints in one activity.

http://www.planningplanet.com/forums/primavera-version-pm5-pm6/417350/problems-when-exporting-primavera-ms-project

Tom Boyle
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David,

It's pretty amazing to see a train wreck happening before your eyes, isn't it.  Planning and Project Controls is now "redundant," while "engineers" will be doing their "own" scheduling and resource management (through a scheduling tool).

If MSP is already included in your corporate office suite, there will be irresistable pressure to use it since the marginal cost of adopting it is low.  I imagine this is your case; otherwise a solution involving a few standalone MSP intallations is not hugely cheaper than one involving a few standalone P6 users.  If you are not being driven to MSP, then there are certainly other possiblities to consider, any of which may be cost competitive: Spider Project (what Raphael uses), Phoenix (a P3-lookalike), Asta Power Project, Deltek Open Plan....

All of these tools - including MSP - will require a certain investment of time and money for training in a)project schedule management, and b)the details of the selected toolset.  In light of the "redundancy" decision, I doubt if such an investment is forthcoming.

You might also consider getting a few licenses of Primavera Reader or XER Schedule Toolkit for reviewing the existing P6 schedules once your database goes dark.

David Hunter
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Thank you Rafael. Good points, and thanks for the link, I'll read it.

Rafael Davila
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Please be aware that it is common practice to require SS & FF links between two activities that must overlap, this is done everyday by P6 users but cannot be done in MSP. This kind of logic will not be exported; will not be available in MSP; MSP users frequently overlap such activities with FS and negative lag, a poor workaround. 

The following link might be of interest.

http://www.ronwinterconsulting.com/MS_Project_for_Construction.pdf

BTW I do not like P6, I do not like MSP.