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Digital Dryshack #92: 6 Tips: P6 Scheduling for D.O.D., 2016

We’ve recently returned from our 3-day, “P6 for Government Contracts” training session for Dawson Construction in Honolulu. One significant takeaway that reinforced what we were already noticing is that new government personnel are changing NAVFAC’s & USACE’s scheduling specs for recent projects. For years we had been able to count on a rigorous but largely boilerplate scheduling spec for both branches of the service. Not so anymore. Here’s six tips to help to get your IPS accepted (and get you paid faster) on D.O.D. contracts: READ (AND FOLLOW) THE SPECS ! As fundamental and obvious as it sounds, even experienced schedulers often skip this crucial stop and assume they know what’s required. We all know how to spell “assume”, and it’s as true as ever. Both NAVFAC & the Corps are now including WBS instructions in their scheduling spec. Be ready to comply with this new requirement. NAVFAC construction managers are using a recently-compiled 82-point checklist to evaluate IPS submissions. Know it and get it right the first time. We’re providing a link to download this stringent list of requirement­s (we do ask for your email and company info to download). The 48-Division CSI MasterFormat codes are required Activity Codes [...]

Digital Dryshack #87: 10 Reasons D.O.D. Schedules get Rejected

Working with a G.C. firm providing scheduling training in Honolulu last week reminded me of the struggles most midsize contractors face when submitting an Initial Project Schedule (IPS) to NAVFAC or the Army Corps of Engineers. Most contractors produce a simple bar chart in MS Project for their typical jobs and aren’t familiar with P6. Rarely are the rigorous and demanding scheduling complexities included in D.O.D. project manuals required by private industry or commercial work. So when awarded a NAVFAC or USACE project, Contractors aren’t getting paid for anything but the bond because their IPS is rejected multiple times for a myriad of reasons. For this reason, I’ve listed the 10 most common reasons the Government rejects Initial Project Schedule submissions: Incomplete Logical Network is the #1 reason most schedules are re­jected. These 2 rules are absolutely non-negotiable: Every Activity but the first (Contract Award) must have a Predecessor Every Activity but the last (CCD) must have a Successor Schedule Log report not reviewed for compliance with Project Spec is the #2 reason for rejected schedules. This invaluable report lists all Constraints, Critical Path Activities, mandatory program settings, open-ended and out-of-sequence Activities, and much more. If you don’t review this report [...]

DD# 74: Notes from the Floor, World of Concrete 2015

A first-rate trade show such as World of Concrete in Las Vegas is one of the better investments we think a company can make. It's an excellent opportunity to plug in to the latest and greatest tools, equipment, and technology that shape our industry. This year marks the 4th year of continued growth in attendance, coinciding with the continuing economic recovery in construction. I spent most of my time in the technology section, (no surprise), in the Central Hall of the Convention Center. I was primarily interested in what our partners were doing, as well in checking out the show as a whole. It's a daunting task to take in an exhibition of this size. Over a thousand vendors are displaying their best products, a dizzying array of attractions simultaneously competing for your attention. I attended only 2 days of the 4 day show this year, a shorter commando campaign compared to the full meal deal of past years. Back then I stayed the entire duration, affording the opportunity to take advantage of some of the excellent educational seminars on estimating, business management, and team-building, to name a few. Some quick highlights from the floor: ProEst's CEO Jeff Gerardi tells [...]

PM software debate- web or hosted?

The Digital Dryshack has been quiet lately, our efforts distracted by a heavy workload. Too busy with urgent business to do what's important. Sound familiar? The bane of the small business, (and some larger ones as well), catches us all from time to time. Lots of ideas. Some topics in front of me at the moment, of the many I've scratched out lately, follow: -> hardware ahead: ->thin client, tablets, & RDP (and the accompanying demise of the PC & laptop) -> new Construction Sequence Index (stay tuned) -> Project Management on the web, vs. on a locally-hosted server environment Starting at the bottom, we see an ongoing battle between the two project management software models. And to an extent the entire software industry as a whole. The primary advantages of web-based project management software : - easy access for team members - potential reduction of IT cost, by eliminating the need for internal software hosting and additional required security The primary advantages of internal server-based PM: - ease of integration with accounting, scheduling, and Windows / apps in general - full control of security and data backup regimen These four issues are among those at the heart of the [...]

Primavera P6 support Q: How to deal with cents (change), partial hours, and rounding in P6

We had a Primavera P6 support question today about how to persuade P6 to be accurate to the cent and partial hour.  If you are trying to prevent P6 from rounding to the nearest dollar or hour, there are two places to change your preferences to deal with cents or partial dollars & hours. The first is in User Preferences, where you can choose the number of decimals of your time unit: Go to Edit --> User Preferences In the Time Units Tab, adjust the number of decimals accordingly. The second place is in Currencies, where you can choose the number of decimals in your currency unit: Go to Admin --> Currencies In the Appearance tab, adjust the number of decimals to your preference.

How to Update Closed Financial Periods in p6

Following training we provided in Anchorage recently, a senior scheduler pulled me aside with a perplexing P6 problem. He had inherited the schedule for a hospital in northern Alaska that had been originally assembled by a cast of now-long-goners. By and large the schedule was reasonably solid, but some quirky behavior somewhere in its structure revealed itself every couple months, throwing pay apps out of balance. Try as he might, (and he's a solid scheduler), the errors kept recurring. One month all the pay items would balance, and the next there would be some math that just didn't add up.  It boiled down to our needing to adjust the amounts billed in some now-closed financial periods. The solution turned out to be simpler than we expected. Here is the solution to how to update closed financial periods in p6: 1) In the Details view, we opened the Resources Tab 2) We customized the Resources Tab to include columns for Units and Costs from the (now-closed) Financial Periods that were incorrect. 3) Consulting the manual, we entered the DIFFERENCE. in the Actual Units and Actual Costs for the period. (P6 will not overwrite the original value, but it will post an [...]

P6 Activity Code issue and fix

We took a call recently from a geographically-diverse company’s project manager who was having problems building  a new P6 schedule for an Army Corps of Engineers project. He’d been working for hours on it and was getting nowhere. Try as he might, when attempting to assign his Project Activity Codes to items, they were nowhere to be found, despite being correctly set up. Sound familiar? Chances are it might, as it’s an issue we’ve run into several times. I met the distraught project manager at a local restaurant, and we discussed his problem over lunch. The details: The problem is due to Activity Codes’ schizophrenic ability to lead“three lives”. Activity Codes can be created: at the Project level in the EPS at the Enterprise level. In this particular case, the scheduler had assigned Project level Activity Codes (correctly per the Contract Specs), AND GIVEN THEM IDENTICAL FIELD NAMES AS ENTERPRISE ACTIVITY CODES. This doesn’t work! The higher level code (in this case at the Enterprise level) will trump the lower level code (at either the EPS within the Project). The rule: Activity Codes created at different levels MUST be named differently. That difference can be as simple as a change [...]

CSI Masterformat 2010 Sample Cost Codes

Most general contracting firms use the CSI Masterformat coding scheme for their cost codes, to generally match project specifications. For any General Contractor contemplating revising its cost codes, we strongly recommend using the 2004/2010 Masterformat, (50 Divisions), rather than the tried and true 1995 Masterformat (16 Divisions). Time marches on, and despite the familiarity and comfort zone of the old format, the new system is gradually replacing the familiar one. Don't make the mistake of  ignoring this progression (unless you're retiring next year). We've recently worked on job cost codes for two of our clients. We're sharing a more generic list of 2010 Masterformat Sample Cost Codes here, as a guideline for mid & smaller GC's. It's no secret that without solid historical job cost reporting, companies fail to close the information loop critical to profitability and effective company management. This sample set of codes is only that, and each company will require its own focused differences from this list. We're offering this up simply to help provide a good start. In our experience designing Job Cost systems over the past 15 years, we find between 200 to 500 codes is a realistic number. The trick is to find that balance point [...]

Estimator’s notebook- January

We've been fortunate to be very busy throughout the last quarter, with the advantages and disadvantages inherent in a packed work schedule. On the one hand, it's our favorite problem to have, although it's been very difficult to keep up and produce the volume of work we've landed. On the other side, perspective is tough to achieve when you're giving it all you've got in the trenches, just trying to get the work done. Having solid strategic partnerships is critical in these situations, and we're fortunate to be able to count on some truly talented resources. Stenstrom Group Inc., N-Visions LLC, and PCATT are among those who have provided us with crucial support in these trying times. Stenstrom Group Inc is the authorized Oracle | Primavera Business Partner for the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim. Through SGI we represent Oracle | Primavera in one of our core markets, supporting NAVFAC and US Army Corps of Engineers contractors. We work together to meet the demand for software, training, and scheduling services as NAVFAC and the Corps are adopting P6 to replace the now-obsolete SureTrak and P3 for their projects.  Why Projects Fail is a link to a useful white paper I [...]