A common problem that is faced when converting a schedule from Microsoft Project to Primavera P6 is that the translation process moves the project tasks from the order they were in previous to the translation.
This article discusses the how to prepare a Microsoft Project file for translation so that a particular task will remain in its current location in the schedule.
There are many items to consider to be certain your Project to P6 translation goes smoothly, including removing blank lines and links from summary tasks to regular tasks. Yes, there is much to note, so much so, that our company wrote guidelines on the subject, which are provided to customers in need of translation services.
One translation issue that may be a problem for some customers is that the translation process moves tasks. The reason this happens is that P6 wants to associate tasks or activities with work breakdown structure (WBS) elements. Summary tasks in Microsoft Project are the equivalent to WBS elements in P6.
If a task is out dented such that it does not fall under the nearest summary task, the P6 translation will move the task to the next closest summary task that is compatible with its indentation. If you absolutely want your task to remain in the same location, there is a way you can prepare your Microsoft Project file, accordingly, so that the tasks will not move.
Let’s begin by simulating the problem so we clearly understand the issue. We have a portion of an Ice Storage Glycol Cooling System installation in Figure 1.
Notice that Task 12 ‘Install Pipe & Fittings’ is out dented so that it is not a child of Task 9 – ‘Ice Storage System’. It is, however, a child of Task 4 – ‘Piping Primary Loop & Bypass’, again, Figure 1. The translation wants to associate ‘Install Pipe & Fittings’ with a Summary Task, and, therefore, a P6 WBS element.
So the translation process is going to move Task 12 ‘Install Pipe & Fittings’, as well as ‘Install Pump Electrical Power’ and Install Pump & Associated Fittings’, so that they are located directly underneath the nearest parent Summary Task that is compatible with their indentation. This is Task 4 – ‘Piping Primary Loop & Bypass’. Watch what happens when the translation is complete, Figure 2.
As anticipated, tasks 7, 8, and 12 are moved directly underneath ‘Piping Primary Loop & Bypass’ WBS element. And to muddy the waters further they are out of order, but that can be fixed simply by adding a zero before the 7 and 8 digits. If you are happy with the movement but want the numbering to be sequential this is resolved by moving the tasks yourself while in the Microsoft Project file. Our issue is that we absolutely do not want Task 12 – ‘Install Pipe & Fittings’ to move from its spot below the ‘Ice Storage System’ tasks. How can we make sure of this?
The way to keep ‘Install Pipe & Fittings’ from moving is by inserting Summary Task ‘Primary Loop & Bypass Connections’ contiguous to and a parent of ‘Install Pipe & Fittings’, Figure 3.
Note that ‘Primary Loop & Bypass Connections’ is a sibling of ‘Ice Storage System’ and ‘Air Cooled Chiller’. Now watch what happens post translation, Figure 4.
‘Install Pipe & Fittings’ as promised stays in its spot and is associated with the parent ‘Primary Loop & Bypass Connections’ WBS element. Of course, ‘Install Pump Electrical Power’ and ‘Install Pump & Associated Fittings’ moved, but we did not make them a child of an adjacent Summary Task in Project. If we wanted to hold them in place too, then we would have had to make them a child of an adjacent Summary Task as well.
Now you have a better understanding of the how and why tasks move when their associated schedules are translated from Microsoft Project to Primavera P6. If you are fine with the movement, but want the numbering to be sequential, move the tasks in Microsoft Project before the translation. And if you must have the task remain in location, associate the task with a contiguous Summary Task, the equivalent of the P6 WBS element. Primavera P6 wants to associate the activity directly with a parent WBS element. If none are nearby then it moves the activity accordingly.