On Friday, June 27th, Deltek launched a substantial point release of the Acumen Fuse, Risk, 360 tool suite bringing this up to Acumen 8.5. And, by the looks of things, this is way more than a simple maintenance release.
This new release includes over 20 functional improvements in 8 different areas of the product. In many cases these enhancements have clearly been modeled around the common approaches that customers take towards certain types of schedule analysis. So, let’s jump in and take a look at some of the highlights of this new release.
EVAS (Earned Value Analysis System) to DECM (DCMA EVMS Compliance Metrics) Support
Well that heading was a mouthful indeed. All that so say that recently the DCMA renamed EVAS to DECM and the Deltek Acumen Fuse system already supports this new paradigm with updates to its metrics library and to the online help system also.
Deltek have added a new group of metrics to Acumen 8.5 that use the 360 schedule acceleration fields.You will find these in the Advanced > 360 folder on the Metrics tab. This will provide metrics to help you analyze the schedule after you have performed an acceleration process within a scenario. You will find a 360 diagnostics ribbon in the S2//Diagnostics tab when you wish to run these new metrics.
Other enhancements to the 360 schedule acceleration functionality include the removal of the schedule cleansing options in the Accelerate Schedule dialog. This simplifies this view and doesn’t remove the function as you can always do a schedule cleansing in a scenario before you attempt to crash as schedule.
In the Accelerate Activity tab you will now find that the ‘Select / Change Activity to Accelerate’ field has become a drop-down list of activities to select from.
While we’re accelerating things, Acumen is now sporting a selection of Accelerated columns including:
- Accelerated Remaining Duration
- Accelerated Start
- Accelerated Finish
- Accelerated Total Float
- Accelerated Free Float
- Accelerated Script (the name of the script used to accelerate the schedule)
- Accelerated: This is a checkbox that is selected if any of the following occurred with the acceleration:
- Remaining duration was reduced
- Predecessor lag was reduced
- Successor lag was reduced
- Calendar changed
- Constraints were removed
After you run schedule acceleration, you can click Add Scenario and go to Diagnostics on the Acceleration Results dialog box. Acumen will then default to the Scenario Comparison ribbon.
You will also find that a button for Add scenario and Trace Logic has been added to the Acceleration Results dialog, so you can jump right into that process too. And my last word on 360 improvements, they have added the acceleration information into the scenario name with the revised target date included. It makes the name a little long but is saves you time manually changing it so you know what you did in that particular copy of the schedule.
New Acumen 8.5 Options
There have been some welcome additions in the Option dialogs so you can choose the default behavior of some commonly used features. For example, you can now automatically import schedules. Rather than have to point to your schedule file and then do an Import Project process, you can now have Acumen do the import immediately.
The reason it defaults to a two-step process is to allow you to make mapping changes in the Fields tab before importing, lest you have some UDFs you want to redirect in Acumen. So this has been implemented as an option, should you need to turn it off and go do some field mapping.
And speaking of field mapping, you can now save Field Mapping template files for the Deltek, Oracle, and Microsoft platforms so you can standardize your own mappings for each of these products. Very cool.
Continuing our overview, let’s give you some other highlights that you will find in this new and improved version of Acumen.
The mentor is a built in tool designed to prompt you when you are about to embark on the use of some feature in a way that may not give you the best results. It’s rather like having an Acumen consultant looking over your shoulder and saying: “If you do that, it’s gonna hurt buddie”. Well maybe not that exactly but you get the idea.And with each new release, the mentor is expanded to give you more advice, in new areas. For example, when you select the S3//Risk tab, Acumen asks you if you’d like to assign uncertainty or create a risk register. You can turn this off if you want, but if you attempt to run a risk analysis with neither uncertainty nor a risk register assigned, it will tell you that the result will not be meaningful.
This S3//Risk mentor option is in the Mentor area of the Acumen Options dialog, if you want to turn it on or off at some point.
Continuing through the Acumen 8.5 release notes you will see that you can now load cost data without having a schedule already loaded. This is thanks to the aforementioned DECM (EVAS) metrics, some of which can be used on cost data without schedule data.
Baseline Project Time Now and Baseline WBS Code Fields have been added to the table area in the S1//Projects tab, after you assign a Primavera P6 baseline to your current project. You’ll find those two new fields hanging out in the Column Chooser.
These include a Reset Display button to…well…reset your display when you feel the need, without having to leave the tab and go back in to shake things up a little. Really though, it will undo groupings, zooms, drilldowns into a period and such getting you back to a default view.
The full list is huge so I’ll just say, go to page 16 of the Release notes to see details of what this Reset button can reset.
When you are looking at huge lists of activities in the Activity Browser below the Ribbon Analyzer, and there’s structure in there, you now have a Collapse and Expand button to save you a bunch of drilling.
Also an Activity ID column has been added to the Activity Browser and the Scorecard View along with some additional numbers displayed in the Activity Browser header showing how many activities tripped the metric out of the number of activities it evaluated.
You will also see some nice additions to the Fuse Metric Evaluation Report in the form of a summary tab, individual metric tab, and Logic Trace included on Published Spreadsheet.
Acumen 8.5 Summary
Some really nice enhancements are showcased in the Acumen 8.5 release notes, and while we’ve only just taken our first look at the software and documentation. I’m sure we are going to get a lot of positive feedback from customers and our own team as we unpack this new version over the coming weeks and put it through its paces.
I would say this is definitely an important release, and if you haven’t renewed your support to get access to this puppy, you just ran out of excuses. The DECM support alone is critical for organizations working with the DoD and DCMA. So don’t hesitate folks, get downloading those upgrades.
You can get this latest version and the supporting documentation via the Deltek Software Manager (DSM) as always. And we found that upgrading your existing version of Acumen will take just a couple of minutes to run.
The best schedule quality and risk analysis tool on the market just got even better – really nice job Deltek.