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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Web Based Project Management with Primavera’s P6
by Susan Smith
Click to Enlarge ]
These Web-based Gantt charts are easy to use, highly interactive and have the look and feel of a Windows application.
AECWeekly: What differentiates this P6 release from the past one?
Richard Sappé: The first component is that it’s a true web based project management system. If you go back to Primavera’s history, we’ve had a reputation for providing scheduling software, extending into contract management and project management. P6 is a watershed event, it provides true web based project management to any organization and the key thing is the web component which means accessibility for anyone, anywhere, anytime, that’s across the four primary components for what we deliver – managing schedule, managing costs, managing resources, and managing your contracts. The specific collaborative scheduling functionality that’s now available online is a key feature. Without being limited to a desktop application or client application for actually scheduling your projects, this is now directly available online so that without an installation, with just a browser to access it, you can schedule and dynamically update and dynamically schedule. As a result you can collaborate with the entire group of distributors to a project directly online. Whether you’re a project manager, project controls or owner or contractor you can directly see how the schedule’s going to impact you.
As a subcontractor, I can not only status my activities, I can give a status update which in turn means that progress payments can be made. I also see exactly when I need it. So my mobilization and demobilization requirements are perfectly clear and I’m not going to end up showing up on site with the space I need to work in still being occupied by previous contractors.
P6 is a further step for us to be able to handle from planning, to management, to control all the way through to the delivery of the project, all the relevant aspects that go into project delivery.
AW: What types of projects is it designed for?
RS: We’ve got an industry that ranges in projects from $200,000 renovations all the way up to multi million dollar projects. Traditionally, once you get into the mass majority the market has this perception that it’s not practical for smaller projects. Because of ease of deployment and ease of use, because it’s very much like something like Excel which is like common knowledge these days, it means you can bring the power of controls to any type of project even without having to add staff to an organization that can actually manage and handle schedules with intensive scheduling and controlled knowledge.
AW: What about BIM integration with P6?
RS: People are talking about BIM a lot in the AEC space. Most BIM is driven by the design side, but solution providers like Primavera have the other half of the data pool. Integration is critically important to us and to the entire concept of BIM, because when you talk about getting costs, time and resource information, we have an extensive network of available integrations to estimating solutions, accounting solutions, to even to actual design solutions where you can visualize the construction based process within the design file based on the actual construction schedules. When it comes to BIM and some of the clients I’ve talked to, what they’re working towards is that fully integrated project management system throughout their organization which includes design but also includes document management, workflows, schedules, project management contract management, and estimating. Web deployability makes us very well positioned with this release to play in that collaborative space.
There has been a wall between design and construction in AEC. With design build, and project delivery models, that wall is starting to come down. As an industry, we need to sort out, not just how can I take a CAD file and attach some information to individual components, but how can I make that meaningful so that the entire lifecycle of that design element from beginning to end is captured in a complete system? I don’t think Primavera or any solution vendor is able to link to the total cycle from A to Z to the end, but we definitely need to make sure that the relevant integrations, especially in the handovers from the design to the estimating through RFP process to actual constructability, ties tightly together.
AW: How is the system configurable?
RS: The system can be configured to the type of user, it’s coming from a live database. Besides being web deployable, the browser based environment has relevant power accessible to appropriate users. Depending upon what type of user I am, the system can be configured so that I see exactly what I need. If I’m a project manager I’m interested in collaboration, RFI processes, schedule and I can access all that from a single environment. I can directly navigate and dynamically drag and drop, update activities, review submittals, review RFIs, all from within a single environment. If I’m at an executive level and I’m reviewing resource requirements, I can quickly get across projects, both on the construction and engineering side and get a very good high level view as to how my project is going. The user can configure the system the way he needs it to be.
If I were setting this project up, I could quickly develop a view that shows specific functionality, specific dashboards, graphs or analyses. I make this up from my engineering department, then I specifically add all those users to that view and it’s automatically pushed out to them when they enter the system. As an engineer I can go and further configure within that view, how it’s laid out and updated, and I can further configure what colors I want, etc.
AW: What feature have users been asking for the most?
RS: Users have been asking for scenario modeling projects, being able to very quickly develop a what-if scenario without losing your original project, and being able to collaborate on that project, change information in a collaborative environment, if necessary, being able to merge that back into that project. Not to just have a scenario but to have it be accessible to all other collaborators, field supervisors, project managers, engineers to start updating and making suggestions and to be able to cleanly merge update back into the master project. That allows us to do dynamic powerful change management, and as a project team being able to model solutions out and merge it back into the master project.
In the web environment, we’ve incorporated a web programming language based on AJAX which is a new way of coding websites. This allows you to quickly refresh portions of the screen and allows you to quickly change graphics and detail graphic layouts online on your browser. The graphics capability in P6 online as well as in the client application, allows you to have multiple graphical layouts in your view on your browser showing different slices of different information. You can take one of those graphics, change it, edit it, turn it from a pie chart into a line diagram or histogram, without having to change the entire site.