Earlier this year we talked about a fairly major new version of Deltek Cobra that was planned to be released in late June. This new version will be called Cobra Version 8.0. Today we were given a preview by Deltek of this exciting new version and this article provides a few highlights of what you can expect to have available at the end of this month.
If you were wondering what happened to versions 6 and 7, well these have been skipped to bring all the Deltek PPM tools under one consistent version number; i.e. PPM 8, so that is a move to simplify things.
Goals For This Release
One of the goals of this coming release has been to simplify things for the Cobra user community, and in a demonstration today, Deltek showed us some very exciting changes that we believe are a real improvement to the tool from a number of aspects.
To start with, the interface has been brought bang up-to-date with the introduction of ribbons on the toolbar and the new color scheme is based upon the shade of blue used in iAccess. Click on the image below to enlarge.
This new interface supports Deltek’s goal of simplifying workflows, giving users the ability to enter a lot of data more quickly, and reduce the need for reporting by allowing greater control of the existing tables on screen. Also, a lot of the usability that has made the sibling tool MPM so popular over the years is being integrated into Cobra.
Interestingly Deltek are also working to make Cobra a somewhat more generic cost management tool that will be well received by customers who don’t necessary do hardcore earned value management. Therefore you may notice a slight de-emphasis on the term Earned Value. For example, the old function to Calculate Earned Value now calculates Progress. So there will be some slight changes in terminology for all us Cobra veterans to adjust to.
Probably the most significant change both aesthetically and functionally is the removal of the resource tab from the bottom layout: placing resource names below selected work packages in the CAWP view, and the time-phased data breakout to the right of the screen. This is particularly excellent as it will reduce the need for printing time-phased reports in order to see summaries of resource values. There is still a Time-phase Details tab at the bottom right of the screen where you can see the result details too. Both these resource views are interactive so this does look like a major improvement to viewing and editing of resources.
This one is also very exciting – the ability to create a calculated field for your control accounts or work packages. This new field allows you to create expressions based on the values of other fields so that you can see the types of data you are particularly interested in that may not necessary be a standard earned value calculation.
Filters on Tables
Another very welcome new feature is the addition of Filters to the table headers. Much like the auto-filter feature in other Microsoft tools like Excel and Project, you can now do filtering on one or more columns by selecting filter criteria in the column header.
The help system has also seen some improvements. Although as help systems go, Cobra’s help has always been pretty good, this new version gives you the option to use local help or hosted help; so it’s always available to you, regardless of internet access. They have also improved the search feature so you can find your subject more easily.
Overall this new version does appear to be a definite improvement over the current version. It appears that Deltek have made some wise choices in new functionality and really put some terrific design improvements into the interface to boot. In short, have no fear about a repeat of the Microsoft Office ribbon releases that made amateurs out of experienced Word and Excel users: no this has been done right. The ribbon are very logical and will not hit experienced users with a huge learning curve.
While we’ve only covered some of the highlights of the new version in this blog, we will be posting further gems over the days leading up to the official release.