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 in case, i.e., “AREA” in the Enterprise and “Area” at the Project level. P6 will interpret these as different from each other, and therefore both will be available to assign to Activities.
As soon as we made the changes in his Activity Code labels per above, his “Areas”, (along with his other Project level codes) were no longer AWOL, and were immedeately available to be assigned to his Activities. He’d been banging his head against the wall for hours, and we solved the problem in fifteen minutes.
Our advice to keep this confusion from recurring is simple: If your company works with NAVFAC or the Army Corps of Engineers, DON’T CREATE Enterprise level Activity Codes. Both branches of the service mandate Project level codes, so keep it simple: define your Activity Code at the Project level, and create Template Projects that have the specified codes all built and ready to go. We expand the Templates to include Standard “fragnets” which include basic milestones, as well as a handful of submittal, procurement, and closeout Activities with a simplified, built-in predecessor-successor logical network. It saves time and money when starting a new project.
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