It’s always exciting when something new is released by the Deltek production team, so I was looking forward to installing and testing the latest point release of Deltek Cobra, namely version 5.1.
This was quick and easy on my standalone instance, requiring me to simply kick-off the DeltekCobra51.exe file, respond to the usual install wizard prompts and then sit back and watch my system do all the heavy lifting. Within a couple of minutes, Cobra 5.1 was glistening on my screen.
The good news is Deltek haven’t turned us all into amateurs by redesigning the whole interface and moving all our favorite stuff around. So, for any organization that has invested time developing detailed process documentation with nice screen captures there’s no need to do any rewrites or updates; it looks identical to 5.0 in every respect. Bravo. This also means that despite this being a point release, there aren’t really many fancy new features for me to drool over.
In summary, here’s what’s new with Deltek Cobra 5.1.
A new field type option called User Field has been added to the list of options under the Code Field Type menus in the Project Codes tab of the Configure dialog, Control Account Codes and Work Package Codes tabs of the Project Information dialog. This basically allows you to assign names that have been configured as users in the EPM Security Administrator to work packages and control accounts. This seems it might save a lot of double entry in lager multi-user installations.
User Date Fields
Five new date fields (User Date 1 – User Date 5) have been added so that you can enter dates against control accounts and work packages. These can be added as columns in the Control Accounts table area of a project. You can enter a date to mark a specific event or change that occurred on a control account or work package.
Cobra 5.1 was released in large part to support the upcoming PM Compass product, scheduled for release this summer. This is a new project management platform for government contractors. I’ll be sure to give this new and exciting tool some column space once it becomes available.
Deltek Cobra Web Pack
A new release of Deltek Cobra Web Pack is also available to support the Cobra 5.1 version. For the unfamiliar, this is a web based project collaboration and management reporting tool that extends the project’s metrics to anyone in the organization with a web browser (therefore anyone with a pulse). This provides some neat dashboards, reports, graphs and tables and even allows CAMs to enter variance information. In short, it can be thought of as the Cobra Analyze view in a web browser.
Nearly 100 fixes are listed of reported defects addressed in this release. Check the DeltekCobra51ReleaseNotes.pdf file for details and defect numbers. You can download this file from Deltek’s Customer Care site.
Hey look, I hate to gripe about such a great product but…
Yeah, I have a couple of nits I’d love to have seen fixed in this release, but alas I’ll have to wait a little longer, I guess. These have come up in my blogs before, and I’ve seen a couple of these discussed in the forums; but here they are in summary.
“I’m forever shuffling columns…”
The columns in the table area of the Projects tab aren’t sticky. You can Insert, Move or Remove columns in this area, and everything is good until you Update Totals, Recalculate Earned Value, pretty much change or recalculate anything. At this point, the columns all reshuffle back to their original positions and you have to drag them all back to where you want them again. This one drives me and pretty much every other Cobra jockey I’ve talk to ‘Bonkers’. Come on Deltek, give use a ‘Save View’ button or something. It doesn’t even have to be that fancy, just let the tool remember where I put my stuff and I think most of us would quit bleating about it.
Moving a resource from one leg of the RBS to another
Let’s say I have built the original RBS with simple categories such as Labor, Contractor and Material. Now I realize that a role that was originally Labor has been subbed out to a contractor. To move this resource from the Labor leg of the RBS to the Contractor leg, I have to either; delete the resource and rebuild it in the Contractor leg, or export the lot into a Resources.CSV file, change the parent in a spreadsheet and then reload them all; the latter option being a bit risky if you have a particularly large resource pool. A simple indent/outdent tool added to the Reorder Resources dialog would do the trick nicely. Using a function like this, I could walk the resource out, up or down and then in again without having to engage in risky deletion or import/export activity.
Primavera P6 ( 7 & 8 ) APIs still not supported
I’d like to have seen Cobra catch up with the latest Primavera versions, at least P6 version 7. This one is biting a couple of my customers who purchased one of the latter versions along with Cobra, but cannot integrate correctly.
My initial tests have shown that upgrading to 5.1 is a pretty low risk step and you can treat it much the same as any Deltek Cobra hotfix. The interface hasn’t changed and the database schema has only a handful of minor field additions that the installer handles without fuss. It’s proving to be as robust as the previous release and fixes a good number of items concerning the integration tools. It won’t blow your socks off with dazzling new functionality, unless you’re adding the Deltek Cobra Web Pack tools perhaps, but it will keep delivering your EV metrics without any frustration, new learning to endure or documentation to update.
My next plan is to install the Deltek Cobra Web Pack and report what it has to offer. Stay tuned for that one folks.