Oracle announced new updates to the Primavera P6 suite at March’s Oracle Industry Connect event. I wasn’t there, but I did recently attend a webinar about the recent release and I’ve been playing with the new versions of Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 EPPM. I’ve put together an overview of what new with Primavera P6 15.1 to share with you all.
This release has updates for both Primavera P6 Professional AND Primavera P6 EPPM (Enterprise Project Portfolio Management) so if you’re using either of these tools, read on to find out what’s up. But don’t be surprised that there’s been many more enhancements to Primavera P6 EPPM than to Primavera P6 Professional.
1) New Version Numbers for Primavera Applications
If you haven’t read our last post, “All Primavera Products Jump to Version 15.1 – Here’s Why” which explains Oracle Primavera’s new version numbering, then you probably should have a read. The short of it is that all products, including Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 EPPM are moving from version 8.4 to this release, version 15.1. The new numbering will help you understand which products in the Primavera suite integrate successfully with other products.
2) Primavera Application Integrations
As we mentioned in 1), Oracle is continuing to improve on the cross-application integration of their Primavera suite. One integration that’s been getting a lot of attention is Primavera P6 to Unifier. Since the world is on mission to get cost and schedule data in a single system (or close, but it’s never really nice for users), Oracle has been focusing a lot on how P6 schedule data and Unifier cost and business data can be passed back and forth. Many companies are passing data from Unifier to P6 (and back) using Primavera Gateway as a go-between.
Unifier allows for business processes to be managed and tracked as they move along various stages. In Primavera P6 15.1, users can now associate a business process with a Primavera P6 task. The result is that business process progress can now flow to Primavera P6 and status an activity. You can pass % Complete, Actual Dates and other progress data. The example Karen Pilla has given is for an RFI. You would associate an RFI in Unifier with P6 Activities which are updated as the RFI progresses in Unifier.
3) Resource Bucket Planning in Primavera P6 EPPM
Although Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 EPPM were often said to have the same functionality in terms of planning & scheduling, there were clearly some major gaps from the start. However, those gaps are continuing to be filled and the addition of Resource Bucket Planning to Primavera P6 EPPM is a welcome one.
In case you don’t know what Resource Bucket Planning is, here’s a review. In Resource Management with Bucket Planning, you can edit how a resource’s hours are spread out by editing the hours allocated in each “bucket” or time period on the Resource Assignments screen. By default, P6 will spread hours out evenly.
In Primavera P6 EPPM v15.1, you can now have the same control over your resource hour allocations on the Resource Assignments screen. This is a nice addition to Primavera P6 EPPM that many will take advantage of.
4) Support for Integrated Master Schedule Format
Companies that work with the US Government and others governments/companies that have adopted the UN/CEFACT standards will find that Primavera P6 has support for the IMS (Integrated Master Schedule) format in version 15.1. In P6 15.1, you can now export your project in a fully compliant UN/CEFACT IMS format. Apparently previous versions of Primavera P6 had this features, but some of the data elements were missing in the export. The export is now fully-compliant to the standards.
As part of this enhancement, you can now map P6 Activity Codes and User Defined Fields to UN/CEFACT fields, dates and durations. AND you get this power in both Primavera P6 Professional and Primavera P6 EPPM.
5) Import / Export of Baselines in the XML Format
Although adoption of the XML is slow and the XER format is still widely used (unless you’re only using P6 Professional), I’m happy to see that in 15.1 you can now export both a project ALONG WITH it’s baseline(s) in the same file – (man we need this in the XER format too!).
Previously, there was a painstaking process to go through of detaching a baseline from it’s project, making a copy, reattaching the copy, then exporting the project and it’s baseline. ….Well, I guess we still have to do this on the P6 Professional side. But NOT in EPPM anymore. This will make some lives much easier.
6) Better Support for Database Auditing
Primavera P6 EPPM has had auditing support from previous versions, but Oracle has made things a bit easier. The auditing controls have been moved into the Application Settings area within EPPM, making it easier to manage. The auditing Reporting are available in BI Publisher.
As you can see here, inside EPPM, you can set which tables you want to audit. I’ve set the first table “CHGTASK” to audit insert, update, and delete. What this should essentially do is track which users have made changes to the activity table in P6 (or basically to any project Activities). Unfortunately, you’ll need to both understand P6’s db table structures and unravel how to use BI Publisher reports to view the auditing reports.
7) Improved Integration Configuration for Gateway
There are few improvements to Primavera Gateway configuration. Previously P6 had 3 hard-coded integrations – Unifier, an ERP system and Primavera Prime. In version 15.1, you can now setup as many integrations as you choose. AND you can include multiple integrations of the same type. This is handy if you want to integrate with 2 Unifier installs, for example – a staging install and the real production install. This flexibility will make life a lot easier for the enterprise with more than a few test / staging environments.
8) Move Project-Level P6 Data Between Databases With Gateway
I like this feature, and apparently it was around in 8.4, but I didn’t realize it. Like 7) this feature is meant for those Enterprises who have Test / Staging databases. You can set up your P6 Enterprise Data (Global Data like Resources, OBS, EPS, Activity Codes), in a Staging DB. Prior to Go-Live, you can use Gateway to transfer that Global Staging Data to your Production Database. Nice!
In Primavera P6 EPPM 8.4, you could transfer these fields between databases:
- Cost Accounts
- Project Codes
- Baseline Types
- Financial Periods
- Notebook Topics
- Expense Categories
- Rate Types
Added to this list in Primavera P6 15.1 are:
- Project Codes
- High-Level Resource Planning
- Resource Assignments
I don’t see “Projects” itself, but I’m assuming it’s in there.
Oracle is calling this feature Configuration Management and I can tell it’s well thought-out. I know I’ve implemented Primavera P6 for a few large clients with many dbs where this feature would have really helped to keep data in sync between the Staging and Production databases.
9) Additional Enhancements in Primavera P6 EPPM
- Cut / Copy / Paste multiple projects at once
- ALL Fields on Relationship Tabs, including Date Fields
- These fields are invaluable for analyzing a schedule and it’s relationships.
- Column selection dialogs for Details windows.
- Now, instead of just checking off columns to show on the dropdown list, you actually get the column chooser pop-up window for many of the Details Tabs. See the “Customize colums” menu entry in the image above.
- Grant access to Visualizer only
- Granting access to Visualizer is no longer tied to granting access to Primavera P6 Professional. There is now a separate option for Visualizer access to be assigned to a user. So users can now be granted access to Visualizer only.
10) Primavera Team Member 15.1 Enhancements
Primavera Team member continues to be a vehicle for gathering updates from the field that are rolled into a schedule’s progress update. In case you don’t know, there are 2 versions:
- “Primavera Team Member Mobile” is a smart-phone app for Android and iPhone that sends updates to your P6 install.
- “Primavera Team Member Web” is a web-based app that users can login to provide updates.
The slide below summarizes the new features you see in both Team Member Mobile and Team Member Web.
I won’t go into detail here (you can watch the broadcast for more information), although it’s worth mentioning now that Team Member web now allows users to configure their Units and Durations to show in Days or Hours now in 15.1.
11) Visualizer goes 64-bit – to handle those big big projects
Primavera Visualizer has been relaunched as a 64-bit tool in v15.1. That means it can take advantage of additional memory to display large data sets. Previously, Visualizer had trouble displaying large projects, but now it apparently hums.
12) Import / Export Visualizer Layouts
New as well is the ability to import and export or basically share Visualizer Layouts. Very handy if you’re migrating between to a new PC or picking up views that a colleague created on another installation.
13) Admin Functionality is Back in Primavera P6 Professional 15.1
It was here, then it was gone, then, depending on what version you had – it was gone again. AND now it’s back! (for good?). Now in Primavera P6 Professional 15.1 you have *some* of your invaluable Administrative features back.
Here’s what you can administer:
- Project Codes
- Activity Step Templates
- Cost Accounts
- Funding Sources
Now, just to be clear, these changes only affect users who are using P6 Professional to connect to a Primavera P6 EPPM database. Those who are using Primavera P6 Professional in a stand-alone environment never lost their admin features. Only those who were using what was once termed the “Optional Client” – the version of Primavera P6 Professional that connects to an EPPM database.
As we’ve seen before, there are many new changes in Primavera P6 15.1 for users of Primavera P6 EPPM, but not much for users of Primavera P6 Professional. However, I am impressed with the enhancements to EPPM. I think we all know that the future is online and that a web-based tool with the core CPM scheduling engine of Primavera P6 Professional is a tool we might all be using soon. For a while, there have been huge gaps in functionality between P6 Professional and EPPM, but those gaps are closing fast. If perhaps we saw a significant performance improvement of EPPM (perhaps fueled by a migration away from Java), then I’d wager that EPPM would be popping up on desktops worldwide quickly.