Book Review – Oracle Primavera P6 Version 8: Project and Portfolio Management

09/07/12
by TheP6Pro

A new Primavera P6 book has been released this month by PACKT Publishing, and we were asked to review it. As we’re always interested in learning about new resources for the furthering of knowledge in this industry, we were delighted to take a closer look and share our impressions.

Publication Details

Oracle Primavera P6 Version 8: Project and Portfolio Management: A comprehensive Guide to managing projects, resources, and portfolios using Primavera P6, through version 8.2. Daniel L. Williams, PhD and Elaine Britt Krazer, PMP. Birmingham & Mumbai: PACKT Publishing, August 2012. 327 pp.

Introduction

Since its introduction more than a dozen years ago, the product we know today as Primavera P6 has steadily grown into a world-wide phenomenon. Originally released as Primavera P3 e/c for the Engineering and Construction industry, and as TeamPlay for the IT and Financial services industry, P6 currently supports tens of thousands of users around the globe, managing projects that are collectively estimated at a value of over $6 trillion.

Whatever these figures might tell you about the Primavera P6 suite of products, we all appreciate the fact that to get the optimum value from such a tool, you must have knowledgeable and skilled operators. Becoming a skilled P6 operator requires solid fundamentals in the tool’s concepts, functions and best practices. P6 is an application that can take new users months, if not years to fully master. Daniel L. Williams, PhD and Elaine Britt Krazer, PMP have collaborated to produce an outstanding educational resource that will definitely accelerate the learning curve for any P6 novice. I also discovered it has plenty to offer experienced users too.

Book Overview

Oracle Primavera P6 Version 8: Project and Portfolio Management offers just the right level of detail to get you the answers you need, without any confusing fluff to distract you from the message. The target audience for this book is clearly the novice P6 user and is written in a way that makes it a great self-study guide. However, the content is so thorough that even a P6 veteran is going to find plenty of gems in there.

As an experienced P6 user and educator, I’ve written many training courses on the subject, and have wrestled repeatedly with the challenge of explaining Primavera P6 in a way that is easily absorbed and understood. The authors of this publication have succeeded tremendously in this endeavor with concise, no-nonsense writing. What I also found refreshing is that despite the authors’ vast experience and expertise, at no time did I find the book exhibiting unnecessary exposés of their own prowess; rather its on-point narrative provides a delightful litany of pertinent facts and crystal clear explanations that serve the needs of the reader very well.

Content

As to the content and structure of the book, you are introduced to each subject in a logical order. It follows the steps you would be taking to develop a new project schedule and walks you right through to statusing and reporting. The book starts with an interesting history of the tool followed by core concepts that cover the project management life cycle. Next, you are introduced to the interfaces of both the EPPM web client and P6 Professional. Since the introduction of the first Primavera Web Client in 2002 (then called PrimaVision), there has been a tendency to separate supporting books, documentation and training materials and describe the clients as two distinct entities. In this book however, you are learning both the Professional and Web Client versions together. The authors have skillfully blended the two clients within this one publication and have done so without doubling up on screen shots or functional explanations. This may sound a little confusing, but it actually works quite well.

Moving on to the core chapters of the book, all the necessary topics for using P6 are described. Activities, their purpose and attributes are covered with the perfect level of detail. Throughout the book, concepts are explained unambiguously using great examples. I particularly liked the example given in chapter 5 regarding the Start to Finish relationship type; a rarely used feature that always presents a teaching challenge. I also appreciated the clear and simple explanation of activity Duration Types in chapter 7. This is another complex topic that can soak up a lot of time in class as people struggle to get their heads around it.

The book has sixteen chapters in total with two appendices that will take you from project start to project complete, encompassing all the necessary nuances in between. Each chapter builds on the last, but in such a way that sections also make sense individually when using the book as reference material. While explanations are simple and straightforward, this book doesn’t skimp on the details, nor does it overwhelm you.

Summary

In summary, I’d say this book is a ‘must have’ resource for any Primavera P6 user whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran. I have to admit that I learned a few things myself while reviewing it and will definitely be purchasing my own copy. It’s loaded with abundant details and facts that I can never seem to keep in my head, so for me it will be an invaluable tool for reference and research whenever I might find myself stumbling down amnesia alley.

In my opinion this book stands out among its competitors and I’d expect to see it enjoy good uptake within the P6 community. The book is available on Amazon in Kindle format or Paperback retailing at $25.19 and $59.99 respectively. There’s also a PDF version available although not through Amazon. All the formats are available directly from PACKT Publishing here. So if you’re looking to break into the Primavera P6 scheduling world, or just wishing to augment your current expertise, I can definitely recommend this book.

To read an interview we had with the authors, click here

For more Primavera P6 articles click here