At Pinnacle, we strive to stay abreast of the latest and greatest software tools used in project management. As a partner with many industry-leading tool vendors it is incumbent upon us to know the available tools and how to use them to solve obstacles facing our clients.
I recently sat down with Brian Leach, Founder and CEO of Steelray Software, to see what his team has been up to and I was excited to hear that they have two new products, both designed to work with Oracle Primavera P6. In part one of our interview we talked about Steelray Delay Analyzer; in part two we dive into Oracle Primavera P6 analysis.
Jason: Delay Analyzer is the first technology you've been working on. You mentioned that there were two. What's the second one?
Brian: It's called Analyzer for P6, AP6 for short, and it's really a reimagining of our Project Analyzer product but dedicated to Oracle Primavera P6 schedules.
Jason: I thought that Steelray Project Analyzer already supports P6 schedules?
Brian: It does, but we've never been happy with that support. Project Analyzer was written from the ground up for Microsoft Project. So, we started looking at how to make it better for P6, and the path we ended up choosing was AP6, a new product.
Jason: AP6 was built from scratch?
Brian: Well, yes and no. Analyzer was written in 2007, over 13 years ago. We learned a lot in those 13 years and envisioned a more streamlined experience. We pulled in some technology from our Delay Analyzer, and we also pulled in some pieces from Project Analyzer. But in those 13 years, we've also developed some core principles around schedule health that have become part of this product's DNA.
Jason: What type of core principles?
Brian: Let me just step up on this soapbox for a minute. Number one, the ultimate purpose of schedule health tools is better project outcomes, right? But it's more of a chain than a direct link. The tools produce higher quality schedules which gives you a better understanding of the future which leads to better decisions which leads to better project outcomes. We need to design the tool with better project outcomes in mind, since that's the primary purpose.
Number two, schedule analysis should lead to inquiry and action. The output of schedule analysis must be reviewed by the schedulers, project managers and stakeholders, who should inquire and act on the information in the reports. Otherwise, you’re simply generating more reports with no useful function. We looked at how to optimize for the inquiry and action steps that should follow.
Jason: In other words, the tools should result in conversations.
Brian: Exactly, yes! And number three, it's not just about fixing the schedule, it's also about fixing the scheduler. The scheduler is really the source of many schedule quality issues, so we need to help them get better at this. Otherwise, you're going to keep seeing schedules with the same problems.
Finally, number four, the tools should inform but are not smart enough to judge. There is a tendency to try to reduce the schedule to a single grade or good or bad -- we believe that this is a gross oversimplification and not a best practice. Schedule analysis tools should highlight areas to investigate. Further investigation may or may not uncover issues that require decisions and actions.
Jason: I assume then that you won't have a single score for the schedule?
Brian: Even though some customers have requested this, we won't. The health of a schedule should not be reduced to a single number or grade.
Jason: Are the DCMA checks included?
Brian: Yes, because a lot of organizations, including industries outside of defense, have adopted DCMA's schedule checks. But there are also some major improvements in the user experience.
Jason: I know that software is designed well when I can just jump in and start using it -- no training, no user manual.
Brian: True. I mean, we'll have those, but we're betting you won't need them. We flipped the model that Project Analyzer uses inside out. With our existing Project Analyzer product, you pick a single schedule, create a report with the checks you want to run, and then click a button to analyze and see results. AP6 is analysis first; point us at a set of schedules and almost instantly you're looking at results. At that point, you can add and drop checks, change thresholds, etc.
Jason: I'm looking forward to seeing it. When is it available?
Brian: We have an early access program and early users are trying it out now. When they tell us it's ready, we'll release it the next day.
Jason: Thanks for speaking with me. I'm looking forward to seeing both of these technologies and wish you luck.
Brian: Thanks, Jason!
For more information visit steelray.com to see their entire product portfolio.
Topics: Aerospace & Defense, Energy, Utilities, Oil & Gas, Earned Value Management (EVM), Integrated Program Management (IPM), Technology, Government & Public Sector, Encore Analytics Empower, Recent Articles
Jason has extensive experience in Earned Value Management, project controls, project management, and engagement management. He is a frequent speaker at the IPM Workshop, EVM World and numerous project management software vendor conferences. He is an active participant with the NDIA Integrated Program Management Division (IPMD) and the Planning and Scheduling Working Group. He currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the College of Performance Management (CPM).
Founded in 1993, Pinnacle provides a wide range of project management related professional services including management consulting, technology implementation & integration, and project support services. We have extensive experience implementing and optimizing enterprise-wide capabilities for Enterprise Project Management (EPM), Project Portfolio Management (PPM), and Earned Value Management (EVM).
50 Culpeper St.
Warrenton, VA 20186 USA