Deltek Cobra is a mature, incredibly capable Earned Value engine. As such, it has a ton of capabilities and other tools you could be using right now. How much are you really taking advantage of? This is true of the Microsoft Office suite you probably have access to today…what percentage of its capability do you think you take advantage of? What percentage of its capability do you think you’re familiar with?
We get comfortable with how we use a particular tool to do a particular task, but vendors constantly update the capabilities of their tools. We might not have even been thinking about a particular need when we decided to go one way or the other with our vendor of choice.
In our role as consultants we are consistently presented with scenarios where we see tools being underutilized even (actually typically) if the particular capability is not related to what we were brought in to help with. One area where we see this a lot, is in the reporting capability in Deltek Cobra. There is a lot you can do to streamline and enhance your reporting through Cobra. And whether users never knew about a capability or forgot about it, we have seen some simple ways to make reporting easier, faster and more integrated with processes.
Below are three quick tools you can use in Deltek Cobra to start getting more out of the way you use reports in Cobra.
1. Use Report Categories
Deltek Cobra comes with a lot of reports out of the box and it makes it really easy to create new reports through saving your wizard settings. One of the things that happens is the list of reports can start to get large and a bit confusing when you scroll through all the options to find that one report you want. By default the out of the box reports are put into different groups:
- Ancillary – reports on the ancillary files like calendars, resources, rates, etc
- Audit – reports like change management, log reports, etc.
- Export – reports formatted to easily export data into Excel
- Format – government mandated reports like CPR’s, IPMR’s, 1921
- Graphic – reports with S curves, histograms
- Planning – reports used for planning purposes like CAPs, Pivot reports
- Time phased – reports that produce the data in a time phased format
But did you know you could create your own categories? It’s as simple as typing in a new category on the last screen of the report wizard when you save the report.
You can type directly into the category field and that entry will be added to the drop down list options. If you want to add other reports to that category, simply select it from the drop down list. You can even assign existing reports to the new category by updating the report properties.
We recommend setting up a category for Monthly Reports, Change Management, Annual Reports to start. We also recommend using a number to start the category name so they’ll be at the top of the list of categories…every little bit helps.
2. Eliminate Reports You Don’t Use
As noted in the previous section, Deltek Cobra comes with a lot of standard government format reports, which is great, but if you don’t do work with NASA, you probably don’t need to worry about running a 533M or Q. You can clean up the report list by simply deleting reports that you don’t use, thereby making it that much easier to select. No sense in consistently scrolling past reports that you are never going to use.
Before deleting the reports we recommend making a backup of the report in case you do need the format at some point down the line. This is as easy as going to the File/Manage Files menu and selecting Backup. From the dialog, simply select the File Type of “Report” and you can select the different reports you want to backup.
Cobra has some basic calendar sets defined by default when you create a new calendar, but we see a lot of folks not taking full advantage of the capabilities. You can set up up to 99 different calendar sets in a Cobra calendar file. Each calendar set is simply a grouping of the dates that exist in the base calendar. By default Cobra sets up a calendar set to track the Previous, Todate and Cum to Date (Calendar set 18) and one for use with the Format 3 (Calendar set 19) but you can easily add additional calendar sets to the file.
The advantage of setting up these calendar sets is that, once defined, they can be used in saved reports in Cobra, which means it is easier to use the reports in batch reports or even batch processes. It also sets you up to simply select a report, project and basically click finish to see the reports with the relevant periods, without having to select them.
We always use a calendar set for fiscal year and one for contract year. Every project has to report data based on these two criteria, so we just prep the project to do this right up front. Once the calendar sets are established, we make sure to create the requisite report formats with the appropriate calendar set and save the report for future use.
To create a new calendar set simply open the calendar file and click on the button. Cobra will select the next available number and give you the opportunity to provide a description.
Once you click OK, the calendar set will be created and you just need to identify the dates to be used with either a floating or fixed flag. In the example below, we’re setting the fixed flag to identify the end of the fiscal years.
There are other reporting capabilities in Deltek Cobra that allow you to customize the formats, integrate the reports into a SharePoint environment, etc. Beyond reporting, there are capabilities that can be leveraged to increase the adoption of Earned Value in your environment and most importantly minimize the overhead associated with executing Earned Value Management on a program.
Ten Six offers a full audit of organizations Deltek Cobra set up, settings and process integration to help organizations maximize their return on investment. To find out more contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.