Every planner knows that WBS and Code Structure are essential elements needed to successfully maintain a Primavera P6 schedule network.
But what about your Primavera P6 Activity Names?
A sometimes overlooked schedule quality issue is the use of well articulated activity descriptions. Planners who began their career in P3 or earlier versions were limited to 48 characters in the activity description. This has created an industry habit of abbreviations and acronyms that at times may only be understood by a small group of individuals knowledgeable of the project. One of the key roles of a planner is to present the execution plan to the project team. Poorly named activities can cause confusion, disagreement among the vested stakeholders and in some extreme cases manifest themselves in schedule delays.
5 Tips to Improve Your Primavera P6 Activity Names
Newer versions of Primavera P6 and beyond allow many more characters in the activity description field. Follow these 5 simple tips to improve the overall quality of your schedule network and respective activity descriptions.
1. Use an action word.
When adding an activity description you always want to add an action word first. For construction related activities consider such words as install, construct, place, or fabricate. For Engineering use action words such as develop, issue, or incorporate. Make sure you follow the action by the activity to be performed.
For example: “Install Lower Base Slab”.
2. Don’t abbreviate unless you absolutely have to.
When developing your activity descriptions do your best to spell out what you are trying to say.
For example instead of
“FREP lwr fndn concrete”
“Form, Rebar, Embed & Place lower foundation concrete.”
The more abbreviations your schedule contains, the greater potential for confusion, particularly for those unfamiliar with the schedule or your naming conventions.
3. Be descriptive!
The activity description needs to be as descriptive and detailed as possible. For construction activities consider adding the location, utilizing column references, direction, room numbers, and floor elevation.
Example: “Install North Lower Base Slab Col 1 – Col 5, Floor 1”.
This type of description will give your reader vital information about where this activity is physically located. Always assume that your reader will not be using your code grouping & sorting when reading yours schedule. Make sure each activity can stand on its own without any coding headers.
Developing standard activity descriptions, similar to activity IDs, will help standardize your schedule. Try to come up with a standard structure that can be conveyed to the entire planning team. This is especially good practice when working with multiple users in the same program.
An example for an engineering schedule could be “*Action Word* – *Deliverable* – *System*”. Below are some other examples to help keep uniformity in the schedule.
Use the <Action Word> – <Deliverable> – <System> template.
1). Develop Mechanical Data Sheet – Horizontal Pump
2). Issue Piping Isometrics (Dwg #) – Cooling Water System
3). Issue RFQ (PO #) – Horizontal Pump
4). Award Purchase Order (PO #) – Horizontal Pump
5. Don’t scream!
THERE IS NO NEED FOR ALL OF YOUR ACTIVITIES DESCRIPTIONS TO BE CAPITALIZED! For some reason there are several planners that prefer to work in all-caps. Do us all a favor and please turn the caps lock off. There is no need to scream and it adds no value to the final product.
Tell us what other rules you use for naming your activities when developing a schedule network.