Reflection projects are a little known but very handy feature in Primavera’s P6 Professional. A Primavera P6 Reflection project is essentially a copy of a project but with one snazzy built-in trick – the ability to merge the copied project back into the original at any time. If the genius of this trick hasn’t struck you yet, it will.
This merging ability was designed to help planners work with scenario projects.
Let’s say you’re the planner for a large capital project that is a falling behind schedule. The boss wants you to assess the impact of adding an extra shift to the work schedule. How much time can be caught up with this approach (ie: scenario)?
The thing to do here is to create a Reflection of the project, add an extra shift and verify the finish date. If the boss approves the extra shift, then you can merge this scenario project into the original project along to keep the changes you made. This saves you the time of renaming projects, resetting permissions and copying and pasting changes from one project to another. There are also some nice options to help you create a backup of the original project in case you need to reference it again in the future.
Step 1 – Creating a Reflection project in Primavera P6
From the Projects window, right-click on the original project and select Create Reflection from the menu.
If the original project has any baselines you will see pop-up window where you can select whether or not to copy those baselines along with the project. Simply mark the checkbox in the Copy column if you want to preserve any baselines in the Reflected project.
You should now see a copy of your project in the Projects window. The copy will have the same Project ID with “-1” appended. This reflection project will also be marked with a Status of “What-If” which is Primavera’s way of indicating the project is a “scenario” project and not a real project plan.
Step 2 – Open the Reflection project and Activity Layout
Now it’s time to run your scenario. ie: make changes to the Reflection project to test out your scenario, hypothesis, etc.
In this tutorial, we’ll make a small change to the reflection project’s resources.
Open the Project and then Open the Activity Layout provided the tutorial downloads section.
Before we make any changes, you’ll need to make sure a key setting for working with resources is set correctly in User Preferences. Go to Edit -> User Preferences, and click on the Calculations Tab.
Set the “Recalculate the Units, Duration, and Units/Time for existing assignments based on the activity Duration Type” option. This will make sure that Primavera will perform the necessary recalculations when resources are added or removed from an activity. Close the User Preferences window.
Step 3 – Making changes to the Reflection project
Find Activity A1020 – Convert Legacy Data. You’ll be adding another resource to A1020 to see how this will affect the project’s finish date. Since the activity’s Duration Type is set to “Fixed Units”, adding an additional resource will have the effect of shortening the activity’s duration and spreading the units equally over the 3 resources assigned. Let’s give it a try.
Add Tom Bell as a new resource assignment to A1020. Reschedule the project using the current data date and check the project’s finish date.
The project should now finish on Dec 20, 2010 whereas before it was scheduled to finish on March 1, 2011.
Step 3 – Reviewing the Differences Report
Go back to the Projects window and right-click on the Reflection project. Choose “Merge Reflection into Source Project” from the menu. You should now see the Differences Report window.
This screen is really nice. It provides you with a report on the differences between the original project and the reflection. From here you can choose which changes you want to merge into the original, or leave out by checking the box in the “Merge” column. Don’t like the updates on a particular activity? Just leave them out.
P6 also gives you some options to archive the original project, either as a baseline or as an .xer export file. This is essential as you’ll likely need to keep the original project around. And you can also choose how to handle the reflection – keep it, delete it or replace it (update it) with the new merged project.
Step 4 – Merging the Reflection into the original project plan
If you agree to merging the projects, you can go ahead and set the options as above, and click “Merge Changes” to finalize the merge. You may want to print this differences report first, or you might even copy and paste it into a text document before you Merge. You can do either of these by clicking the Display bar.
The Reflection and merging features in Primavera P6 are great features for the planner or scheduler who needs to run project scenarios or hypothetical analysis.
Things for you to try:
- Try making more than 1 reflection of the same project to compare multiple scenarios
What else you should know about reflections:
- Primavera P6 Reflections are only available in the P6 Professional and not in P6 Web Access
- A quote from the Primavera help file: “Merging will not necessarily remove items from the source project that have been deleted from the reflection. If major elements of a project have been deleted from the reflection, you will have to manually delete them from the source project if you do not want to keep the elements in the source project. Elements that are not deleted during a merge include Activities, Resource Assignments, WBS elements, Work Products and Documents, Project Expenses, Project Issues, and Project Risks.”
Download Tutorial Files
- Project .xer and Layout [Reflections-Tutorial.zip] – Don’t know how to import our layouts? Read how here.