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In Primavera P6, an activity represents work that is required to contribute to the completion a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) deliverable. An activity has a planned start date, a duration, and a planned finish date. An activity can also have resources such as labor, non-labor, and materials assigned to it, as shown in Figure 1.
One or more activities can be defined below a WBS element in Primavera P6. These activities represent all the different tasks required to perform a deliverable. In our example in Figure 2 shown below, we can see that there are four activities required to meet our ‘Design’ deliverable.
In our previous article ‘Developing a Work Breakdown Structure in Primavera P6’ (you can read that here) https://tensix.com/2020/08/developing-a-work-breakdown-structure-in-primavera-p6/ we used the example ‘ProSearch’. If we return to the same example, on the third level of the WBS, under ‘Build’ our WBS terminates at ‘Interface’ ‘Engine’ and ‘DB Connect’. We need to find activities to describe the tasks to complete these deliverable elements as shown below in Figure 3.
Firstly, we focus on the ‘Interface’, our design department has researched the ‘Interface’ process and has produced a requirement document that describes the Search field, Search button and Advanced Search button as well as what capabilities it will offer the user.
The ‘Interface’ must deliver the following capabilities for the Search field:
- It must work on the following web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari
- It must support certain operating systems
- It must be predictive text-enabled based upon database index
- It must offer a spellcheck capability (if not provided by the browser)
Although these capabilities may technically describe deliverables, they are far too detailed to warrant a 4th level to our WBS. We need to focus on the work required to give the ‘Interface’ the desired attributes.
Depending on how familiar our project team is with the work required to develop a schedule, we may be required to interview the people who will perform the work to understand and help create a realistic account of their process. We may also review historical projects that have similarities to our project and talk to the project teams that implemented successful schedules. After developing a work schedule, our activities for the ‘Interface’ is shown below in Figure 4.
When we enter these activities into the Primavera P6 schedule, the first activity (Start Search Interface Development) becomes the ‘Start Milestone’ activity type, identifying it as the planned start date of the deliverable.
The last activity (Deliver Completed Code for Testing) becomes the ‘Finish Milestone’, identifying it as the planned finish date of the deliverable.
The activities in-between the ‘Start Milestone’ and the ‘Finish Milestone’ are known as ‘Task Dependent’ activities. Primavera P6 identifies ‘Task Dependent’ activities as activities that are scheduled using the activities calendar and not the calendars of any resources assigned to it, as shown below in Figure 5.
Before we entered our activities into the P6 schedule we checked that we had created the activity names by following Scheduling best Practice Guidelines.
Best Practice Guidelines for Activity Descriptions
- Use the verb, noun naming technique- describe what you are doing and what you are doing it too. An example of activity names for a different schedule that we used is ‘Design Interface’ and ‘Write Code’, as shown below in Figure 6.
- Keep the description as short as possible whilst still being meaningful, Figure 6.
- Always use standard abbreviations, this will help everyone involved in the project from the project team to the stakeholders to understand the project scope.
- Keep the scope description narrow to allow for accurate reporting. If the description is too broad it will be hard to determine an accurate % of completion when work on the project begins.
Before compiling a list of activities that will describe a deliverable make sure you fully understand the work required to complete the deliverable. Use all the resources available to you including interviewing the experts who are going to do the work and reviewing similar successful projects to ensure you construct a realistic schedule.
Make sure you have a planned start date (a Start Milestone) and a planned finish date (a Finish Milestone) for each group of activities that complete a deliverable. Use the Best Practice Guidelines for naming your activities so that everyone involved in the project understands the project scope. Remember to keep the scope description narrow so that an accurate % of scope can be reported during the project.
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