Since Deltek Cobra version 8.0 made its debut back in June of 2016, I’ve found my working habits slowly changing as I become more and more familiar with some very convenient items in the ribbon based toolbars.
I’m sure that those of you who are making the transition from Deltek Cobra 5 to Cobra 8 are having a similar experience. The way you used to access certain features in Cobra 5 are changing, and it seems that I keep finding nice to have little tools that I didn’t notice at first. So I’m sharing them with you now in hope that they will save you some time in the future.
I’ve already talked about the Quick Access Toolbar, but it’s so cool it’s worth another couple of column inches: a standard windows feature for ribbon based systems that allow you to pick your favorite and most commonly used ribbon tools and place them in the quick access toolbar using a right-click of the mouse.
However, it seems that I’m constantly finding new items that make some work habit of mine entirely redundant.
Only today I was working on my customer’s monthly update cycle and found myself having to check the Project Properties dialog to remind myself which ancillary files the project is using. That was the only way to check as I recall in Deltek Cobra 5, but in Cobra 8, I just noticed the Ancillary Files feature in the Edit ribbon.
Well I’ll be darned – what do those little buttons do? Answer, save you a bunch of time goofing around with the Project Properties dialog, that’s what.
As you click on each of the Calendar, Rates, Codes, and Resources buttons you will see a popup that displays the ancillary files in use by the currently opened project. Check it out:
This is a terrific little time saver. Because I’m using several code files for this project, each one is listed below the Codes button. Furthermore, if I click on one of the list items, it actually opens the underlying Code file, Calendar, Rate, or Resource file.
So this feature will definitely save you having to launch the Project Properties dialog every time you need to be reminded of the Rate file, or whatever it is that you to check on.
Moving to the left on the same project Edit ribbon is the Data group. Because of its location, somewhat away from the time-phase data area on the right of the screen, you might overlook the purpose of these tools. However, once I caught on, I find myself making constant use of these features.
In Deltek Cobra 5 it seemed I was constantly running time-phased reports from the report wizard to validate this and that. But since Deltek put the time-phase data on the right of the screen, I’ve found that it, plus these Data tools almost eliminate the need to run time-phase reports. The most important options are the Result pick list. In here I can select to show specific results in the time-phase area. By default it shows the Total Currency values. However, I can quickly and easily flip to HOURS, or even FTE and look at these metrics instead.
In the above figure you can see that with a simple change to the result field, I’m looking at a time-phased headcount for the Program Management LOE Work Package.
Furthermore, if I select the rows on the time-phase side of the table, and use the Ctrl+C key combo, or with a right-click | Copy, I can then paste these values into a spreadsheet in just a couple of seconds.
Returning to the Data group once more, note how you can remove the values in the summary work package and control account rows of the time-phase area. This unclutters the screen to help you focus on the detailed resource assignment level values.
One last example is the Show Assignments check box located in the Assignments area of the Edit ribbon. This option removes the resource assignments, and thus the time-phase data from the right-hand side of the Cobra window.
I’d say this is almost like reverting the system back to Deltek Cobra 5, except for the fact that the resources have been entirely hidden, and there is no place in which to interact with assignments once this box is unchecked.
You may find that when you are working with particularly large project files, the performance may improve somewhat if you turn off the Show Assignments feature. This is something to keep in mind whenever you are not doing anything that requires resource assignment interaction.
Finally, do spend a few minutes looking at the buttons available in the Tools ribbon. I don’t have time to go into all of these in this article, but I do urge you to become familiar with their existence.
Just tonight as I’m crafting this article, I spotted something that may solve a problem I’ve been having in the office. I am going to experiment with the Align Time-Phase Dates feature which evidently allows me to manage a change in the financial reporting period end dates. My customer recently underwent a change in the financial reporting cycle, and consequently the in-progress Cobra project now misaligns with the new reporting periods. I can feel another article coming on.
Anyway, do familiarize yourself with these tools. Look them up in the Deltek Cobra Help system to better understand their purpose, and when the time comes, you’ll have them ready to go in your bag of Cobra tricks to impress the boss with some sleight of hand EV dexterity.
I hope some of these featured options are news to you and will save you a bunch of time going forward. I know how it is, we are so busy just trying to get through another monthly cycle, that we rarely have time to just peruse around Deltek Cobra and really get to know all its capabilities. I have learned the hard way that when you don’t pay proper attention to the entire suite of tools and features, you will overlook some real time-saving gems.
It’s like the old saying, “we’re too busy cutting wood to stop and sharpen the saw.” Well ain’t that the truth. So please, take some time, or better still make some time to wander around the ribbons of Deltek Cobra and get really intimate with the details of the application. I guarantee you’ll learn a few things that will one day raise your prowess, and maybe even your salary as you save the day and become the go to Deltek Cobra SME in your company.