Like all software products there are things we love about the tool, and things that we feel could be improved. Deltek Cobra is no exception. With years of blogging behind me, you may already know I’m a big Cobra fan. In my humble opinion, it is the easiest to use and most flexible tool on the market by a long mile. In recent months, I’m sure you’ve all noticed that the Cobra 5.n hotfixes and point releases are now starting to introduce features that were never in the original Cobra 4.n family. This is exciting to see and we look forward to what lies around the corner. So perhaps this would be an opportune time to talk about a few minor improvements many users would love to see appear in future releases. They’re not major things, just nits really, but would make all the difference.
Specifically there are three items that I believe would really improve the user-interaction of Deltek Cobra and this is not just my opinion, but that of literally dozens of users that I have asked about these during training and consulting engagements over the last few years.
So if you could change anything about Deltek Cobra, what would it be? Feel free to ping us a comment if you have an opinion – we’d love to hear it.
This article looks at a couple of shortcomings in the Deltek Cobra interface that if solved, would make a lot of users very happy indeed. They may seem a little trivial on the surface, but evidently I’m not alone in my frustration. So for what it’s worth, here’s The Cobra Guy’s wish list for interaction improvements, in order of priority.
Wish List Item 1 – A way to save the columns view of the Project and CAWP table areas
I get asked about this one on almost every engagement. “Can I save the view in these tables?” Currently Deltek Cobra does save the order of selected columns with the individual project, so if you resize, reorganize, add or remove columns, then that view gets saved with the project as long you click save before you close it. However, it is almost universal practice to frequently make copies of projects when preparing for monthly updates or to test things; and this is where a Save View capability would be awesome. Whenever you make a copy of the project using Save As…, the columns all reset to defaults in the new copy. This forces the user to reorganize, resize and add/remove the columns back to the view they need every time a copy is created. It’s the number one complaint I hear from users.
The Suggest Solution:
Most EPM tools offer a way to save views that can be applied to whatever project or table you have open. In Deltek Cobra, it would be great to see something like the following fictional figure; a field that gives drop down options to save the current view as a named view. Even better, how about an option to save it as a User view or a Global view depending on the requirement? Wouldn’t all this be very cool?
Here’s an artists impression of what that feature might look like in Deltek Cobra.
If a Save View feature is not possible in the near term, it would at least help if a copied project inherited the table view settings from its original project. That would save us from one area of frustration in the absence of a Save View option.
Wish List Item 2 – Insert Column Improvement
Currently when you insert a column in the Project or CAWP table view, Deltek Cobra will not place that column in the position you right-clicked to open the menu. Rather it always inserts the column at the extreme right of the table, forcing you to scroll over and then drag-n-drop it to the location you originally wanted to see it at. This has an added disadvantage for new users; they may incorrectly believe that the insert didn’t work, as the column appeared off-screen.
The Suggested Solution:
Have the Insert Column feature place the column to the left of the selected column. This would emulate the behavior of most standard windows table objects.
Wish List Item 3 – Shift buttons on hierarchical views
Ever needed to change a branch of a WBS, OBS or other hierarchical object in Cobra? This can be somewhat fiddly to do and I typically have to export the file, change the codes or parent values in a spreadsheet and then reload it via the integration wizard. Adding new elements to a hierarchy is pretty straightforward in Cobra, but moving elements below a new parent or to a higher level; not so much. Because projects always change, particularly in today’s world of Agile software or design-build construction projects, making the management of such dynamic data easier would be really cool and save the user considerable time and hassle over the lifecycle.
The Suggested Solution:
In a hierarchical dialog, how about providing a set of buttons to allow a selected element to be moved left, right, up or down? Something like the following figure perhaps:
So there you have it. My wish list of enhancements that I, and many fellow Cobra users would be delighted to see appear in some future release of the tool. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on these items. Perhaps you have a few of your own you’d like to share with us.