The long-awaited update for Cobra (Deltek Cobra 8.3) is nearly upon us, and as a Deltek partner Ten Six had the opportunity to get a sneak preview of some exciting, and important enhancements that we can expect to see in this version.
Due out at the end of the year, we are excited to share with you some of the highlights you will enjoy with this new version.
IPMR and IPMDR
Just before I get into detail about Cobra, let’s briefly talk about an important situation that has been influencing the release date of Cobra 8.3. Known until recently as IPMR2; the IPMDR (Integrated Program Management Data Report) Data Item Description (DiD) has been bouncing along the horizon for several years now as promised deliveries of final specifications have not materialized in the timeframes expected.
Indeed, as I write this, the new IPMDR DiD is still not approved by the government so there are no programs yet being compelled to report using this new IPMDR protocol. However, the technical particulars of this DiD are more-or-less stable now, so evidently Deltek has decided to release Cobra ahead of government sign-off. And good for them – there’s some really cool stuff in 8.3 besides IPMDR support.
The purpose of this augmented electronic reporting is to overcome certain limitations that are inherent with the IPMR Formats. This will be the subject of another article, but for now, just be aware that Cobra 8.3 fully supports this new protocol so when the folks on the hill finally sign off on this, Cobra 8.3 (and Deltek Acumen) users will be ready to go.
IPMDR in Cobra 8.3
All that to say: Cobra allows you to export your project data in the new IPMDR format to create a cluster of cost-centered JSON files packed into a zip. Once we get our hands on the final 8.3 version, we’ll unpack this zip file for you and show you what exactly that looks like. That article will appear when Deltek officially releases this version which should be right at the end of December.
This new functionality is executed using the existing 8.2 Cost Data button in the Integration ribbon.
Cobra 8.3 Preview
Once you install 8.3 and open a project, the first thing that will leap out at you is the yellow row at the top of both the spreadsheet and Time-phase areas. This is a ‘Total’ row and I think many of you will quickly start enjoying the benefits.
Another feature I’m very happy to see is the ‘Clear All Filters’ button. You’re now just one click away from returning your spreadsheet area to full detail after completing some filtering operations, without the need to go back to all the filtered column headers to switch them off individually.
Process Logs User Improvements
The already very useful Process Logs feature has been improved, particularly in regard to filtering and default sorting. You will be happy to know that the newest entries now appear at the top of the list, so you don’t have to keep clicking on the Start Time column header to see the latest logs at the top. There are also additional filtering fields above the table area allowing you to filter by date and filter by user. The logs themselves have been improved showing more detail about the settings you used during the configuration process.
Deltek have added support for Macro-enables Excel Spreadsheet templates (.xlsm), so you can now create Macros to run on your reports after the report has been run. You will also see additional CAWP, Resources, and Rates tabs at the bottom of the Excel reports. So for those of you who like to use the Data tab for custom reporting, you can now pivot on these additional data dumps reducing the need to write custom SQL statements for some of the more common reporting needs.
I’ll have more for you once we get our hands on the release, but there are a few other goodies we can look forward to. These include:
The ability to Reclass Earned Classes – previously this was not an option, so those who are perhaps migrating current projects from MPM can now build a more detailed history with this capability.
Primavera P6 Integration enhancements including support for Resource Assignment % Complete, Loading Material Quantities, and Filtering of Data loaded from the Schedule.
Allowing the editing of current periods when the ‘Prevent editing of historical time-phased values’ option is enabled in the Project Properties dialog.
For Cost Point users, there is now support for Cost Point Cloud integration.
And finally an improved help system that provides multi-word search string support (and/or) for more targeted results. I can’t wait to see that one, as I’m sure is the case for all the users. Dare I say HOORAH? It also gives you more direct access to the Deltek Learning Zone, and Customer Care so if you need more help, it’s all just one click away.
I’m particularly excited about this release, mostly because of the user interaction improvements. It’s great to see that Deltek are listening to their customers and then acting on their suggestions. Every release of Cobra these days seems to sweep away more legacy hangovers from the old 4.n FoxPro days (for those old timers among you), and in their place is rolling out new, well designed, and well thought out capabilities and enhancements.
While the focus of this release has been on IPMDR, which will start to become relevant early in 2020, I’ll be happy to see this release go GA (General Availability) at the end of this month. Watch this space in the coming days for a more detailed exploration of Deltek Cobra 8.3.