Monday Feb 27, 2012

Scheduling Options in Primavera P6 by David Kelly

These options are made available by choosing the Options button, from the scheduling dialogue.

In a properly configured P6 environment, where projects are created by copy/paste from an official template created by the central project controls group, these settings will be correct.

Ignore relationships to and from other projects

In almost all circumstances the default, not to ignore such relationships, would be correct. An example of where this toggle switch is valuable is if all scope variations were held in a separate project. With both projects open, scheduling shows the combined projects. With just the original project open and this option switched on, the original scope only is scheduled. This is one of thimge simplest ways to switch between original scope and current scope.

Make open ended activities critical

This is a not just a display option, it changes the float on any path with an open end.

Use Expected Finish dates

Expected Finish is a controversial way to report progress. Effectively, rather than telling a P6 activity how much work has been done by reporting a per cent complete and allowing P6 to calculate when we can expect the activity to finish, we input an expected finish date and P6 calculates how much work has been done. Many project controls professionals think this is the wrong way round. Even if such dates have been added in the Status tab of the Activity screen, they will not be used if this option is unchecked. The arithmetic is NOT commutative. It will NOT put the original values back if you un-check this. Be careful!

Schedule automatically when a change affects dates

Switching “real-time” scheduling on such that the schedule recalculates with every significant change to the data is not advised. This feature is the preserve of light-weight single-user planning systems.

Level Resources During Scheduling

This is largely a matter of style. Some planners prefer to see the results of the schedule before resource levelling, others having satisfactorily set the levelling parameters would rather both processes were run together.

Recalculate assignment costs after scheduling

It is hard to imagine a scenario where one would NOT want to recalculate an activity’s costs based on the new dates that the activity may have once scheduled.

Retained Logic vs. Progress Override

None of the above settings creates as much discussion as this one. The controversy arises when there is out-of-sequence progress.

The above Barchart shows two projects which are identical in every respect except for that setting. The only progress that has been achieved is that the site has been prepared. Using Progress Override means that the remaining duration of the activity “Prep site and Erect” starts at the data date. This is clearly nonsense. Note that the whole project now finishes earlier than the Retained Logic project which leaves the remaining duration in the position that its predecessors demand. What is going on here, why do these options exist?

In the real world most planners add relationships to a project for two reasons:

  1. The laws of physics. If you are going to put a pipe in a trench, you must make the trench first.
  2. Not enough resource information. If I need to machine two valve blocks, and I do not know all or any of:
  • Exactly how much machine time and labour time is required for each of them.
  • My resource dictionary does not properly describe the availability of the equipment and labour to do the job,
  • I do not have clear guidance from management about the priority for allocation of resources
  • BUT, I “know” I can only do one at a time – Then I add a finish to start relationship between the two activities.
  • In case 2) above it does not matter if we start the successor activity first, and is we did start it first we would need to finish it before starting on the predecessor. In a perfect world case 2) above is easily dealt with by resource levelling, but quite a lot more information is required to do it the correct way.

    Calculate start to start lag from

    Clearly Actual Start may calculate more realistic dates. Probably Early Start calculates more optimistic dates if the schedule is slipping.

    Define Critical Activities as

    The definition of Critical in textbooks of CPM methodology is where float is less than or equal to zero. The longest path through the network always shows red bars in the barchart for the so-called Critical path, and is a more popular choice.

    Calculate Float based on Finish date of

    When scheduling multiple projects – perhaps a portfolio that represents a single contract – how many float paths? Does each project have its “own” float, or is float “owned” by the whole portfolio of projects? Before considering this question we would need to know how the projects' inter-project relationships are structured, how many open ends there are in how many of the projects, and an understanding of the commercial/contractual implications. It is unlikely that the planner on the project can answer this question alone.

    Compute Total Float as

    The author admits defeat here. Apparently in some circumstances an LoE or WBS Summary activity can have different Start and Finish Floats. There is no Primavera documentation that describes the circumstances or justifies the arithmetic. Choose Finish Float.

    Calendar for calculating relationship lag

    This is very important. Best practice is to always use 24hour, and always enter lags in hours. E.g. if the lag is 5 days, enter 120h into the lag dialogue. This way no changes in any calendar will change the wall-clock time of any lag

    NOTE: When you schedule in P6 all open projects are scheduled at the data date selected for each project. If only one project is open, then you can change the data date for that project. If multiple projects are open then you can only change their data date in the Projects screen, where you can even “Fill Down” a new data date to multiple projects.

    About the Author:

    David Kelly

    Dave Kelly delivers Oracle Primavera training courses at Milestone in Aberdeen; Milestone is an Oracle University Authorised Education Centre and offers the complete Oracle Primavera course curriculum. Dave has been involved in Planning and Scheduling software training and consultancy for many years he is well known and respected as an expert in delivering Primavera and associated solutions as both an experienced consultant and trainer.

Thursday Sep 29, 2011

MOAC – DRIVING EFFICIENCIES IN TRANSACTION PROCESSING By David Barnacle Bsc(Hons) ACMA

In release 12, an exciting new feature was introduced across the sub ledgers and it was called Multi-Org Access Control or MOAC. A lot of our customers have followed Oracle’s lead and adopted shared service centres (SSC). In these centres, to drive down costs in processing business transactions, the back-office functions (financial and administration) have been consolidated. For example a shared service centre in a single country could deal with all the processing expenses across Europe, or even the world. SSC models are increasingly being used in the Public sector in an attempt to be more efficient, and to push down the cost of daily transactions.

You may not have implemented a formal shared service centre, but you can still reap the benefits from Multi-Org Access Control. Multi – Org architecture was introduced in version 10.7 to allow businesses with complex enterprise structures, often over many countries, to conduct their business transaction in a single Oracle database instance. Financial transaction in the sub ledgers were secured by operating units, and users gain access to each operating unit via a different responsibility. If a user needed to process transactions in a new operating unit, then they would need another responsibility.

MOAC allows companies to gain processing efficiencies because users can more easily access, process and report on data across multiple operating units from a single responsibility without compromising data security or system performance. For example, an order processing clerk can open one sales order form and then process orders for all countries without the need to switch responsibilities or data entry forms.

The following diagram summarises the set up and processing steps for using MOAC.

moac diagram

In the Human Resource responsibility, you can define a new security profile and assign to this new profile all the operating units needed for a responsibility to access. To make this new security profile available, you then must run the HR report called ‘Run Security list Maintenance’. The new security profile is then attached to a responsibility by the new profile option called ‘MO: security Profile’.

A number of reports and forms have been enhanced to allow cross – organisational reporting. Multi – org preferences allows the user to control and limit the number of operating units they have access to, based on their work environment.

The MOAC feature delivers the following benefits:

1. Reduce setup and Maintenance of many responsibilities

2. Speed up data entry

3. Obtain a global consolidated view of information

4. Process data across multiple operating units from a single responsibility

5. Increase operational efficiency and reduce transaction processing costs.

The setup and use of MOAC is covered in the OU course R12.x Oracle E-Business Suite Essentials for Implementers. The course also covers common setup components such as Flexfields and is the prerequisite course for any follow on application fundamentals course. The course content is also tested in the first examination of the e-business certification program.

About the Author:

David Barnacle
David Barnacle joined Oracle University in 2001, after being the lead Implementer, of a very successful European rollout of the e-Business suite. He currently trains a wide family of applications specializing in the supply chain and financial areas. He enjoys meeting students and likes to learn how each Customer will configure the software suite to meet their own challenging business objectives.

Friday Aug 26, 2011

Ways to Train – Oracle University Style by David North

It’s not just about the content, it’s not just about the trainer, it’s also about you – the learner. The ways people learn new skills is ever so varied; and it is for this reason that OU has been and continues to dramatically expand the sources and styles available. In this short article I want to expand on some of the available styles you may come across to enable you to make the best choice for you. Firstly, we have “Instructor-led” training; the kind of live, group-based training that many of you will have already experienced by attending a classroom and coming face-to-face with your trainer; spending time absorbing theory lessons, watching demos, and then (in most classes) “having a go” and doing hands-on exercises with a live system.

But now OU has added “LVC” (Live Virtual Class) – a variety of the live, instructor-led training where instead of having to travel, you attend class remotely, over the Internet. You still have a live instructor (so you have to run up on time... no slacking allowed!!). The tool we use allows plenty of interaction with the trainer and other class members, and the hands-on exercises are just the same – although in this style of training if you fall behind or want to explore more, the machines on which you do the exercises are available 24x7 – no being kicked out of the classroom at the end of the day!

We are doing more and more of these LVC classes as the word spreads about how good they really are. If you can’t take time out during the day and are really up for it, you’ll even find classes scheduled to run in the evenings and overnight! – although be careful you don’t end up on a class being delivered in Chinese or Japanese for example (unless of course you happen to speak the language... When you book a class the language and start times are clearly shown).

For those of you who prefer a more self-paced style, or who cannot take big chunks of time out to do the live classes, we have created recordings of quite a few – which we call “RWC” (Recorded Web Class”), so you can log in and work through them at your leisure. Sadly with these we cannot make the hand-on practice environments available (there’s no-one there in real time to support them), but they do give you all the content, and at a time and pace to suit your needs.

If you like that idea, but want something a bit more interactive, we have “Online Training”. Do not confuse this with LVC, the “Online Training” is not “live”; it is a combination of interactive computer based lessons with demos and hands-on simulations based on real live environments. You decide where, when, and how much of the course you do. Each time you log back in the system remembers where you were – you can go back and repeat parts of it, or simply carry on where you left off. Perfect if you have to do our training in bits and pieces and unpredictable times.

And finally, if you like the idea of the “Online” option, but want even more flexibility about when and where, we have “SSCD” (Self Study CD) – which is in effect the online class on a CD so you don’t even have to be connected to the Internet to dip in and learning something new.

Not all of our titles are available across all the styles, but the range is growing daily. Now you have no excuse for not finding something in a format that will suit your learning needs.

Happy training.

About the Author:

David North
David North is Delivery Director for Oracle Applications in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia and is responsible for Specialist Education Services in EMEA. He has been working with Oracle Applications for over 9 years and in the past helped customers implement and roll out specific products in just about every country in EMEA. He also trained many customers from implementation and customisation through to marketing and business management.
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