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How good is scheduling in Oracle Prime Projects?

Stijn Van de Vonderby Stijn Van de Vonder | In Oracle Prime, Primaned Belgium, Primaned Blog, Primavera P6, Tools |

The Primaned team has written quite some blog posts about Oracle Prime Projects over the last couple of months. We did not hide that we thought it might very well be the PM tool of the future. Our enthusiasm is based on the comprehensiveness of the tool and its alignment with our vision on integrated project controls. It is so much more than a scheduling engine. When introducing the tool to clients and prospects, the reception is very good and our enthusiasm seems to be shared. However, mainly because of the nature of our client base, there is one thing they all want to know and ask us time and again.

How good is its scheduling compared to my good old Primavera P6?

It’s time to address that question in a blog post.

Functionality of Prime Schedule App

People sometimes seem to assume that the scheduling app in Oracle Prime is a light-weight version of Primavera P6. These expectations are probably based on what they see in many Enterprise Project Management tools. These tools are reported to include GANTT chart functionality, but their scheduling engines are so light that they are deemed unfit for project controls which heavily relies on CPM scheduling.

Well, Oracle Prime is not light-weight. Its scheduling functionality is very similar to Primavera P6, which is widely regarded as one of the most powerful scheduling engines around. Many functionalities why professional planning engineers love Primavera P6 work exactly the same in Oracle Prime. Group & sort, calendars, activity codes, adding relationships, F9, the data date, entering progress, etc. Oracle Prime has a very robust and proven scheduling engine.

The differences in functionality

They are very similar, I stated. So, there obviously are some differences? Indeed, some P6 functionality has not been implemented in Prime. One difference jumps out. Expenses and resource costs cannot be loaded on the schedule in Oracle Prime. At least not for the time being (release 18.2). While the vast majority of P6 users does not cost-load their schedules, it is tough nut to crack for our Earned Value specialists. Cost control (and also basic Earned Value Analysis) is designed in a different way in Prime. It works by cost loading the scope or bill of quantities (and not the schedule) as is explained in more detail here. Cost control within Prime has a well-thought approach and is much broader than in P6, but Oracle seems to be struggling to integrate it with schedule-based cost control as we are used to do in Primavera P6. I do expect the typical schedule-based S-curves to appear soon, however.

On the flipside, Oracle Prime also introduces some novelties in its scheduling app. For example, in Oracle Prime role leveling exists next to resource leveling. Also the scenarios are a very nice improvement. They are somewhat a combination of reflections and claim digger in Primavera P6, but with the advantage that you can have different scenario’s open as different tabs. This movie explains all about it. Also managing bars is much easier in Oracle bar with intuitive drag-and-drop functionality as shown below.

The main difference

The main difference is not the functionality, but the user interface. Many planning engineers remain very loyal to the familiar Primavera P6 Professional interface.  Even today – 8 years after that Oracle tried to abandon it by deciding to go all web with the (failed) release of Oracle Primavera P6 8.0 – many heavy users seem to be reluctant to use the P6 web interface for scheduling. Change is always hard, isn’t it?

Oracle Prime does not have a desktop client, its scheduling app is indeed like the P6 web interface. But it might be time to put this into the right perspective. The web interface is way better than it was five years ago. For starters, Java is gone (thank you!). It may still not be lightning fast, but it is very acceptable once it is open. Additionally, a planning engineer simply has more reasons to work with Oracle Prime than he / she had to work with P6 web. Task, Scope and Risk are all apps that are closely related to scheduling and offer great functionality to plan and control projects. More than enough to forgive the small shortcomings of the user interface.

Integration

The best news is, that you even don’t have to choose. Oracle Prime and Primavera P6 EPPM (not P6 Professional) are seamlessly integrated. The integration is out-of-the-box and easy to set-up. I predict that there will be many hybrid P6 – Prime implementations in the upcoming years.

I currently see five reasons why P6 EPPM will remain in the mix:

  • For complex multi-disciplinary schedules with many integrated sub-schedules, it will still be the tool of choice. Most companies will have at least some of these and will need the power of P6 for them.
  • Primavera Analytics can access the database of P6 EPPM, but not yet this of Oracle Prime. The same holds for external Business Intelligence tools. When you need scheduling information in company dashboards, going through P6 seems the easiest solution for now.
  • Oracle Prime currently does not have Timesheets, while we consider them as a very powerful part of P6 EPPM.
  • To print schedules. Web interfaces and printing is apparently a challenging combination. The powerful printing engine of P6 remains one of his strongest selling points as Prime is currently very limited in this area.
  • Simply to keep working in the good old P6 client. Indeed, this interface does not connect directly to the Prime database, but it does to the P6 EPPM database which is seamlessly integrated with the Prime Database. So, basically it does connect with a workaround.

Conclusion

Oracle Prime is without a doubt a robust scheduling engine on its own. Its integration with P6 ensures that best-in class functionality remains available.

Hybrid solutions will probably dominate in the upcoming years. Selecting the right tool architecture is a complex decision, especially if you add Primavera Analytics, Unifier and tools from other vendors to the mix.  Primaned acts as the trusted and independent advisor of our clients in helping to define the optimal tool architecture for your business requirements. Contact us for more information.

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