With Project 2080, you will learn how to update a schedule of activities for a project in Primavera P6 in order to develop your monthly reports in regular basis (weekly, monthly, etc), as a good practice in Project Planning. Let´s go with the 6 Steps of Progress for schedule updating! If you need further information about Project Managemen, have a look to the PMBok Guide. Are you ready?
Progress Control: create a schedule updating layout
Why creating a layout helps you to update a schedule?
At this point, you will be a real expert planner when it comes to creating a schedule of activities. Now it is time to progress or update our project. The first thing we must do to update a schedule in P6, the tool we use in Project 2080 to manage the project planning properly, is to create a layout that will help us:
- To reflect the activities planned for the next 3 or 6 months
- To highlight the specific activities of the next reporting period, which may be a week, a month, etc.
A priori, we might think that we only need to update the start and finish dates of the activities in our schedule. However, updating a project requires much more. The layout will show the information that we need to capture in month by month and thus be able to progress our schedule of activities in the right way.
Info needed in our layout
Under our criteria the information that is reflected in the table of activities would consist of:
- Activity ID: a short ID which uniquely identifies the activity within the project.
- Activity Name: The name of the activity. The activity name does not have to be unique.
- Responsible: through the Activity Code called “Responsible” we will assign a person responsible for each activity of our schedule in Primavera P6. These can be Engineering, Purchasing, Logistics, Civil Subcontractor, Installations Subcontractor, Client, Project Manager, etc.
- Start: the current start date of the activity. Set to the activity remaining early start date while the activity is not started, and the actual start date once the activity is started.
- Actual Start: the date on which the activity is actually started. It should not be over Data Date.
- Finish: the current finish date of the activity. Set to the activity remaining early finish date while the activity is not started or in progress, and the actual finish date once the activity is completed.
- Actual Finish: the date on which the activity is actually finished. It should not be over Data Date.
- Remaining Duration: is the total working time from the activity remaining start date to the remaining finish date. The remaining working time is computed using the activity’s calendar. Before the activity is started, the remaining duration is the same as the Original Duration. After the activity is completed the remaining duration is zero.
- Activity % Complete: is the work performed to Data Date. This value is tied to the activity Duration % Complete, Units % Complete, or Physical % Complete. This depends on the Primavera P6 setting for the activity’s Percent Complete Type, which is one of “Duration”, “Units”, or “Physical”. Always in the range 0 to 100.
- % up to XX, being XX the expected Data Date up to we can collect all inputs of the period.
- Comments: a comments column helps us to collect relevant information from stakeholders abouts delays, scope, etc.
But to update the schedule is not just a matter of tables.We show you below a configuration that will make this report more visual and good looking.
Gantt Chart Diagram
To complement the information in the table, we will graphically represent our activities in the Gantt Chart diagram. There are many options to represent the bars, giving them a certain color depending on whether they are finished activities, remaining activities or critical activities. We could also represent the project baseline of each activity and thus see graphically whether the activities are being performed as planned, behind or ahead of schedule.
Filtro “Look Ahead” Filter
As we want this report to show us the activities at a certain period lookahead (3 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc), we need to filter our schedule. Therefore, I leave you a filter that I call “XX months Look Ahead”, where XX represents the lookahead time so that you can configure it in your Primavera P6. Do not forget to copy this filter “as layout” so that when you save the layout you always have it set as default.
Using Progress Spotlight option
With this option, what we are going to do is to highlight in yellow all those activities that are developed during the period we are studying. In our example, we will highlight the activities of the first month that follows the cut-off date of our current project.
Page and Pring Setup
Finally, and before saving the layout, we will configure the Print Setup so that it reflects the information correctly and as clearly as possible. Remember that our working layouts will save us a lot of time in our day-to-day life as planners.
And that’s it, we have achieved it. We already have our layout for Progress Control and it will help us to capture the progress that has been performed at the end of the period we are studying.
Capture and Collect all INFO for Schedule Updating
Once we have created our Progress Control layout (in this case we name it RE40 Progress Control), we distribute it to all the parties involved in the project, such as: Engineering, Purchasing, Logistics, Subcontractors, Client, Project Managers, etc. That is why we include a column that we call “Responsible” to our table. There are several ways to capture information:
- Through a monthly meeting with the project team to see the progress of the month.
- That each one of those responsible fills in their part of the project and return it to the planner so that he can compile it in a single document.
- With meetings held between the planner and those responsible where progress and work performed is collected.
Among the three ways of data collection, the first option represents the most efficient since the work is done only once and information can be exchanged between the different parties.
But what data are we capturing? From all the columns that we create in our template, the columns that we must fill in are the following:
- Actual Start: in case the activity has started during the period.
- Actual Finish: in case the activity has finished during the period.
- % up to XX: percent work performed to Data Date
- Comments: in this column, all the relevant information that could justify a likely delay in activities will be written. In addition, it is good to record here the new expected starting and/or finishing date of each activity, as well as the duration that remains in case we have this information. In the case of not having the necessary information, we could make an estimation taking into account the progress of the activity during the study period.
Add all the new inputs in your schedule
It is time to add everything collected during the progress control period to Primavera P6 and this is, with no doubt, the simplest step of the whole process. To do this we will go to the Status tab and begin to dump the data in the schedule. In order to know that you have been adding the data correctly do not forget to highlight everything that you have already written to Primavera P6.
It’s time to schedule updating and move the Data Date
Once we have all the new date updated it is time to make our scheduling tool-P6 work a bit. It’s time to press F9 or go to the Schedule icon to press the Schedule button. Do not be scared if you see that all the dates and the bars have been moved forward. Even some negative Total Float might be shown. Next, let’s take a look at the quality of the schedule through the option “View Log”. This option helps us to identify activities that do not meet quality features we demand our schedule, such as:
- Activities without predecessors
- Activities without successors
- Out-of-sequence activities
- Activities with Actual Dates > Data Date
- Milestone Activities with invalid relationships
- Finish milestone and predecessors have different calendars
All of them must be solved, but we are going to make more emphasis on the “out-of-sequence activities”. Please, keep reading.
Sort Out-of-Sequence activities of your updated schedule
We call Out-of-Sequence activity when it is not executed according to the logical sequence that we had originally planned. A very simple example would be to plan our morning: we get up, shower and have breakfast. But it may be the case that today we have decided to get up, have breakfast and shower. This implies that the breakfast action was carried out outside the logical sequence originally planned.
In order to solve the out-of-sequence of Primavera P6 activities, Project 2080 method is shown below:
- Step 1: copy the activity ID of the “out-of-sequence” activity and look for it in Primavera P6 table.
- Step 2: in the “Relationships” tab we will only look at the predecessors’ activities. The out-of-sequence can happen for different reasons. The most common is that activities initially related by FS (Finish to Start) relationship are finally carried out ahead of schedule. To sort it, we can either remove the initially planned relationship and replace it with a new logical relationship or we can change the type of relationship between both activities, from FS (Finish to Start) to either SS (Start to Start) or FF (Finish to Finish). We recommend studying the out-of-sequence. When needed, add the necessary notes in the comments column for future claims or forensic analysis that we might get to perform in our project lifecycle.
- Step 3: verify that we no longer have any Out-of-Sequence. For this, we will schedule and have a look at the report “View Log” to check that there are no activities out-of-sequence any more.
Analyze the new Critical Path of the project
The end of the process of the schedule update is when we analyze the new Critical Path of the project. In the same way, we will check that there has been no impact on our contractual dates. When contractual milestones have been delayed, we should start a process to mitigate these delays.
IN PROJECT 2080 WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO REMEMBER
The most expected thing by a planner when planning a new project is the schedule updating on a regular basis. Why? because we love comparing the actual progress with the Project Baseline. Even the planner may need to compare the current situation of the project with previous periods and analyze the trend. The act of progressing a schedule is an important area of project planning management. This allows us to analyze what happened during the last period. We will identify impacts on our schedule which delayed or not the contract planned schedule.
The method is very simple. Create a working template, capture all the inputs, dump the information into P6 and schedule update to a new cut-off date. After that, we will analyze the updated schedule and prepare a detailed report of the period events.