Using the store financial option in Primavera P6 can give you a great tool for managing and reporting your earned value information. This feature allows you to store your actual, planned and earned value information by your financial periods. This information is then available for reporting, and tracking. However, occasionally, your data can get "lost". You may notice when you sum the individual period data, including your 'this period' data, it doesn't equal your cumulative data. The data is stored in the database but not showing in any period. To fix this, you will need to go to the projects view and click on the calculations tab. Then uncheck the link actual and this period costs option (your project will need to be open), and recheck it. This will recalculate by subtracting all stored financial periods from the cumulative values for planned, earned and actual. This will relink the values and put any differences in the 'this period' fields.
How Can There Be This Many Percent Complete Options!
A friend who is moderately new to Primavera P6 recently wanted to add percent complete to her activity layout. She was somewhat overwhelmed with the number of choices available. Here is a simplified look at what percent complete can mean in the Primavera world.
Activity Percent Complete - There are three options for activity percent complete. Each of these percent completes is calculated and available for each activity, the selection in the General tab indicates which one is tied to activity percent complete.
» Duration % Complete will calculate the activity percent complete as (Original Duration-Remaining Duration)/Original Duration*100. This can work for level of effort type work.
» Physical % Complete requires the user to update the percent complete manually. This allows you to reflect the technical percent complete of a task regardless of the duration. This percent complete should be based on an objective measure of the task's progress. Steps can be used to track individual components of an activity to help you calculate this.
» Units % Complete will calculate the activity percent complete by taking the actual units ((labor and non-labor)/(actual units (labor and non-labor) + the remaining units (labor and non-labor))*100. This will work for activities where the expenditure of resources against the forecast accurately reflects the progress of the task.
There are also other percent completes you can show in layouts and reports. Some of the more commonly used of these are:
» Performance % Complete is used to calculate earned value. This is calculated based on settings in the Earned Value tab of the WBS. It can be based on the activity percent complete, 0/100 or 50/50, milestones or a custom percent complete.
» Schedule % Complete shows how much of the activity should be completed based on the baseline's duration.
» Cost % Complete is calculated as (Actual Total Cost/At Complete Total Cost)*100.
» Cost % of Planned is calculated as the (Actual Total Cost/BL Total Cost)*100
» Steps % Complete shows the WBS percent complete based on the WBS Milestones that are assigned.
So, make sure when you are reporting percent complete in Primavera, you understand which value you are reporting and what it represents, and it can save you unnecessary problems.
Another frequent question I hear from Primavera P6 users concerns time distributed, or spread, data and why it behaves the way it does. Here are a few things to think about when looking at spread data. First, there are several types of spread data available, make sure you understand what you are looking at. For example, an issue can be caused when someone is reporting what they believe to be the BCWS or baseline spread and instead are reporting the current budget spread for example. Cost and spread information available includes:
» Budget – Spread of the current budget across the planned dates
» Planned – Spread of the baseline budget across the baseline dates (planned or current depending on your settings
» Actual – Spread of the actual cost/units across either the current schedule dates or the stored financial periods, depending on your settings
» Remaining – Spread of the remaining cost/units across the current schedule
There are a number of things that can impact the spread data or cause unexpected results. Here are the most common:
» Because P6 spreads costs based on units per time, if there are no units assigned, the associated cost will be spread in the first period of the activity.
» The budgeted spread and possibly the planned spread (depending on settings) will use the planned dates, which may or may not equal your current dates.
» If you store actual data using financial periods, you will need to ensure you are spreading financial period actual cost, not just actual cost. Spreading actual cost will take the total actual cost and spread in over the duration to date.
» Using future bucket planning, using a resource lag, or editing resource dates will impact your spread.
» Primavera offers a lot of flexibility and valuable information concerning resource spreads, but there are a lot of variables which impact that data, so be sure and always double check the information before using it for decision making or submittal to your client. For more information about Primavera, PM training and project management/controls and process improvement, log on to www.managementsolutionsllc.com or call us at 865-963-0400. We have the expertise to help you succeed.
One of the questions I get most from P3 or MSP users who start using P6 is "What in the world are all these date fields, and what do I do with them?" Here is a brief overview of what the Primavera P6 dates fields are and what functions they perform.
The first thing to understand is P6 has separate dates for activities and resources. The dates you see depends upon the view you are in. If you are in the activity view, you will see activity dates. If you are in the resources window of the activity view or in the resource assignments view, you will see resource dates. These dates can be synced together, so that as one changes so does the other, or managed separately depending on your settings.
There are several fields for start and finish dates. You need to be sure you understand what each one represents and ensure you are reporting and managing the information you intend to.
» Start/Finish: The current start/finish dates based on schedule logic and resource availability. This is the equivalent of the Early Start/Finish dates in P3.
» Planned Start/Finish: For activities or resources which do not have actual dates, these are equal to the start/finish dates. Once an activity has an actual date, the dates hold at what they were at that point in time. Where this comes in play frequently is your spend plans. If a project has no baseline, or if the settings are to use baseline planned dates, the planned spread (BCWS) is spread using the planned dates, not the current dates.
» Actual Start/Finish: The dates on which an activity or resource actually started or finished. Where actual dates have occurred, the Start/Finish dates are equal to the actual dates.
» Early Start/Finish: The earliest date the remaining work for the activity or resource can start/finish. This causes some confusion among P3 or MSP users who generally consider the early start to be the earliest start for the entire activity, not just the remaining work. The Early dates generally equal the Remaining Early dates unless you have leveled the project maintaining the early dates. For completed activities, the calculation is still run based on the schedule logic, but the dates do not reflect the actual dates and can cause confusion when reported on a schedule.
» Late Start/Finish: The latest date the remaining work for the activity or resource can start/finish with impacting project completion. The Late dates generally equals the Remaining Late dates unless you have leveled the project maintaining the late dates. For completed activities, the calculation is still run based on the schedule logic, but the dates do not reflect the actual dates and can cause confusion when reported on a schedule.
» Remaining Early Start/Finish: The earliest possible dates the remaining work can occur based on logic and resource constraints. These will generally equal the Early dates, unless you have leveled the project maintaining the early dates. When the activity is complete, remaining dates are blank.
» Remaining Late Start/Finish: The latest possible dates the remaining work can occur before impacting project completion. These will generally equal the Late dates, unless you have leveled the project maintaining the late dates When the activity is complete, remaining dates are blank.
As I grow into this role of project controls specialist, I realize how important the analysis part of my job is. Analysis in project controls is providing a qualitative explanation via quantitative terms. In other words, explaining the "why" with the "how." A real life example of this is for one of my projects, a spend plan (generated from Primavera) was submitted to the client several months ago before a baseline was established. Recently, I was asked to submit a revised spend plan. However, just issuing the new spend plan would not benefit the project manager. Therefore, I created a rudimentary Excel chart comparing the two spend plans side by side and analyzing the schedules tied to both (obviously, the schedule had evolved significantly while we were waiting for the baseline). I talked to several technical experts on the projects regarding the justifications for schedule delays and documented my findings for the project manager. I also included an assessment of the initial budget compared to the revised budget so that she could easily see how the changes in funding affect the spend plan. The result was a basic analysis, but saved the project manager time in reviewing historical data and generating the analysis herself. And consequently, I learned that I really like exploring the quantitative side of projects controls. I enjoy the "why" aspect and perhaps have found my niche in this field. We will discuss analysis more in depth in future blog posts.
In the last post, Denise talked about her need to show baseline comparison information. Primavera P6 allows for easy display of baseline comparison information. Once the baseline has been attached in Primavera, you can show columns which show the baseline dates and the finish variance from the current schedule. You can also set up bars using baseline dates to graphically compare schedules. Primavera v6 allows a project baseline and up to 3 user specific baselines which can be used to compare multiple schedules. Use this capability to display to management or clients not only baseline comparisons, but also what if comparisons and month to month comparisons.
I had a colleague who recently ran into a project spend plan issue which caused him a needless and painful amount of explanation and resubmittals to the client. He developed a good schedule and cost loaded with the approved estimate and ran a baseline spend plan out of Primavera's Enterprise software and submitted this to the client. Unfortunately, the spread which he submitted didn't reflect the project baseline dates. Don't misunderstand me, Primavera can quickly and easily provide a spend plan based on your schedule. However, you need to be aware of exactly what you are looking at (and submitting). There are several things which you need to check when you use the spend plans:
- If you are using a project without a project baseline, Primavera will use your resource planned dates to generate a budgeted spread. This may or may not reflect your activity dates. If your project has a project baseline, baseline spreads can use either planned or current dates, depending on your settings.
- Be aware of whether you are reporting budgeted spreads, remaining spreads or baseline spreads. Each of these represents valuable information, but make sure you know which one your plan is using and that it is appropriate what you are trying to show.
- You must have units entered to spread your costs. If there are no units, the spread will default to the beginning of the spread period.
Just recently, I have been tasked with setting up a preliminary schedule for my first real project (by the way, all of my high school English teachers are cringing because I used passive voice. That's the coolest part about working with engineers now – passive voice, schmassive voice). I have worked on other projects, but they have all been in conjunction with another, more seasoned project controller. The nature of this project is demolition and deconstruction with a lot of complicated facets. I, along with Cherie's help, worked on getting the WBS set up for this project. We got everything just right, all of the activities in place, to find out that the project manager wanted to go in a different direction. So, we created a new project, with a new WBS, new activities and resource loaded it. I proudly presented this at our team meeting later that week. By the end of the meeting, I realized that the WBS would be changing yet again. Let me point out here that the project manager on this effort is actually awesome to work with and has been very flexible. Speaking of flexibility, that brings me to my point in this week's post. I realized very quickly, that flexibility is a huge asset in project controls because things (i.e. activities, WBS's, budgets, and even baselines) change. I think this is one of things I actually like most about project controls because it keeps you on your toes.
Allow us to introduce ourselves: my name is Denise Hoomes and I am a junior project controls specialist. I have been working in project controls for about a year and a half and feel only slightly less overwhelmed now than when I first started. Fortunately for me, the company I work for employees several experts in the field. One of them is Cherie' Chance, PMP. Cherie' has been working as a project controller for over 20 years and is one of the best. She is an excellent teacher and I can guarantee that she can figure out a work around for almost any issue with Primavera (and if you've ever worked with it, you know it's a very powerful tool but perhaps not the most intuitive software invented). Unfortunately for Cherie', she has been assigned the difficult task of mentoring me. My hope is that you will see two different perspectives woven throughout these posts: one from a beginner's perspective and another from a seasoned perspective and that both perspectives are beneficial to you. Join us on this journey!