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What are the Best Planning Tools and Workflows?

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Jonathan Goldsmith
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Joined: 4 Dec 2019
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I came across this post by Craig Roberts the other day:

WBS in Primavera

It got me thinking about my workflow. I thought about the tools I've come to use regularly for the past 10 years, and to be frank there's a lot of room for improvement. My current tool-set consists of the following programs:

 

  • P6
    • Scheduling Log (Schedule Analysis)
    • Claim Digger (Update / Change Analysis)
  • Microsoft Excel (Mass Import / Export / Tables for narratives)
  • Microsoft Word (Narratives)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (Presentations)
  • PDF Printer (Report Creation / Sharing)
  • Sumatra PDF (Review Reports)
  • MS Project (Share Schedule)
  • Notepad++ (Edit Digger HTML)

 

I find that contract specs typically require PDFs for reports, but for more involved project managers / execs / team members are looking for something along the lines of an MS Project file so they can look at logic. As I was thinking about it I found I had a lot of questions I'd like to ask other planners about, but the following 4 questions probably sum them up best:

  1. What does your tool-set look like?
  2. What do you use to share the schedules with your clients / team?
  3. Have you ever found it useful to send a clients / team members a version of the schedule in a "logic readable" format?
  4. If you have sent clients / team members a schedule in a "logic readable" why? In other words, in what circumstances would it be most helpful to me and my clients / team members?

Your input is appreciated, and thanks!

Replies

Zoltan Palffy
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Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 2568
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  • P6 (scheduling algorithm/Share xer files) 
  • Change Inspector (Update / Change Analysis)
  • Rubix (Update / Change Analysis)
  • Schedule Analyzer Enterprize (Baselne and Update / Change Analysis)
  • Purge POBS (cleans XER file un-necessary risks and POBS tables prior to importing)
  • Xer Reader (performs schedule quality checks such as DCMA 14 point schedule analysis)
  • Input Primavera Activity List and Relationships (used to import activity id, wbs, duration, activity name and predecessors)
  • SDK (used for mass creation of data diectly into p6)
  • Microsoft Excel (Mass Import / Export )
  • Kutools for Excel (add in utility to excel helps removes spaces and add ' for importing into p6) 
  • Project tracker (view data in S-curve format including an xer file) 
  • Microsoft Word (Narratives)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (Presentations)
  • PDF Printer (Report Creation / Sharing)
  • CogniView PDF2XL (converts pdf schedules to excel)
  • MS Project (Share Schedules)
  • Xertransfer (import xer files to and from MSP)
  • Powerzip (zip utility to compress and password files)
  1. What does your tool-set look like? (see above)
  2. What do you use to share the schedules with your clients/team? (P6 reports in Pdf, xerf files, MSP files, Excel files)
  3. Have you ever found it useful to send a clients / team members a version of the schedule in a "logic readable" format? (sometimes but only a small portion of the schedule)
  4. If you have sent clients / team members a schedule in a "logic readable" why? In other words, in what circumstances would it be most helpful to me and my clients / team members? (the critical path, fragnets (including chnage orders), look aheads or specific areas)
Joel Roberts
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Hi Jonathan,

Since your workflows revolve around P6, you should try ScheduleReader. This software will help you better view and produce reports from your P6 exported schedules.

In short, ScheduleReader is a viewing/reporting tool that works with XER, XML and XLS schedules exported from the Primavera P6 app. 

It is a standalone software to use as a P6 companion tool, offering a better way, (alternative to using PDFs) to view project information and create reports. You can share your schedules as .xer or .xml files and they will be able to view all the data in the P6 schedule with ScheduleReader.

Few benefits of using ScheduleReader over PDFs:

  1. Interactive, dynamic overview of the project insights, (WBS overview, full details for each set of Activities, Resources, Assignments, view of Predecessors/Successors activities, personalized views thoutgh Layouts)
  2. User-Defined Filters and Auto Filters - offering flexibility and quick access to needed data
  3. Baseline Comparison and Progress Updates options
  4. Saves time exporting project data to PDFs and much more ... 

A free 15-day trial is avalable from the website. If you need a simmilar solution working with .mpp files, for your project managers to see the schedule logic, i strongly recommend Seavus Project Viewer.

 

Another tool that can complement your P6 environment and you could find potentially useful, is ScheduleCleaner.

This software helps you avoid database contamination with unwanted data in XER files, by allowing you to quickly convert Global to Project Data (Calendars, Activity Codes), EPS to Global Activity Codes and similar, before uploading to a P6 database.

With ScheduleCleaner you can also remove or anonymize other project categories of P6 data such as costs, resource names, project progress, erase POBS data and more.

You can learn more about it and download a 15-day free trial here: https://schedulecleaner.com/get-a-trial

David Kelly
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Joined: 19 Oct 2004
Posts: 575

Oh, and how could I forget....

 

Legare is a complete bidirectional interface for P6. SAP, Maximo, MSP etc.  Typing is for losers.  Load the data with any transformation from any datasource with Legare.

 

.... and of course, a dishonourable mention of my favourite software product, Microsoft Project. If it worked, I would be out of a job…..

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David Kelly
User offline. Last seen 2 days 14 hours ago. Offline
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Posts: 575

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Johnathon,

Current toolset:

P6 18.8. The Windows version, which Oracle call “Professional”, although they do not (they should) call the web version “amateur”. The arithmetic is 20 years old, and it shows.  BUT it is what clients want.  

Deltek Fuse.  Great schedule check analysis, but comparing all the monthly XER files to track differences is the real forensic biggie in here. The risk analysis too lightweight.

Project Tracker.  I have been complaining about Primavera graphics since 1990.  Tracker does what my clients want, without all the madness of pivoting data into Excel, and running chart wizard stuff. Also, it connects directly to the database, so no cheating!

Primavera Risk Analysis is end of life. I already have a client who cannot get a bug fixed because of its obsolete status.  I use Full Monte because it connects directly to the P6 database and the arithmetic is correct, definitely the “contractor” choice. The “owner “choice is Safran Risk, over the top for my one-project-at-a-time risk analysis.  

I can hardly get people to read a barchart, let alone a network diagram showing logic. I am trying to evaluate Netpoint, but am struggling because of the large size of projects I work with.

The “best” software is Spider – but it is Russian. Try selling it to an American client!

Hi Jonathan,

we use Spider Project for scheduling, budgeting, risk simulation, schedule analysis, etc.,

we use Spider Project Viewer that is free for sharing project schedule with the clients/teams or give them an access to project site where current project schedule is uploaded.

Access rights permit to restrict the information that may be seen by each project stakeholder.

PDFs of large projects are not readable and usually are collected for project archives.