Meet Your Reporting Needs with Primavera P6
There are many stakeholders on projects and they all need different access to information in order to best do their roles. In this article, we’ll look at the different levels of data required for management roles and how you can support that with data from your project management software. In particular, we’ll look at Oracle Primavera P6 but you can adapt the principles below to work with any project management tools to meet your reporting needs.
At the highest level of project leadership and steering, dashboards and executive summaries tend to be enough. In our experience, there is no single set of data points that will satisfy every senior team for every project, so while there might be some common metrics to include across all your projects, it’s good practice to ask senior leaders what they need and give them that data.
Typically, that means creating project dashboards. Over time, as they get used to reviewing dashboards from your project management tools, you may be able to crystallize the requirements around a standard set of measures. However, be prepared to create ad hoc reports as and when required!
Keep the information at high level. Provide an executive summary, for example a short narrative paragraph explaining key movement during the reporting period. Other common metrics to include at this level are:
- Actual performance compared to scheduled performance
- Actual budget compared to forecasted budget
- Main open risks and issues
- Decisions needing executive input.
Dashboards are versatile and can show a lot of information, so avoid including too much and focus on only the metrics that are relevant and that provide the context required. If senior leadership members want more information, they will no doubt ask for it.
Read next: Managing dashboards in Primavera P6 EPPM
Similar to top-level management, customers tend to have a pretty good idea of what they want to see to both help them complete their tasks and to have confidence that your team is doing a good job. Different levels of customer management may require different reporting. For example, an account manager might produce a client report that covers all the projects you are running for that client in dashboard format.
A project manager may produce a steering group report for the client’s leadership team about project performance at high level, in dashboard format. Then the project delivery team on the client side will need more detailed information about what they are expected to do, when and decisions to be taken along the way. Over time, the reports you create will no doubt evolve as you and the client gather more experience about what is useful and what can be dropped from the report deck.
In Primavera P6 you can publish reports on a project website, so if you share that information with customers, it could be relevant to create an area of your project website for them to view current data.
BI Publisher is another option for creating client-facing reports. This software empowers teams to design report templates with applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat using XML data. It can reduce the support and maintenance overhead on the IT team, because project teams can set up and create reports themselves in many formats. If your client needs a PDF, that’s no problem. If they want it exported in Excel, you can do that too. It’s very flexible.
Daily project management
Project management teams need the most detail. They need performance data that shows project progress to date against plan as well as a forward view that highlights what is still to be completed. This information allows them to assess performance and course correct to stay on track for future milestones.
Relevant reports at this level will show aggregated and broken-down information, for example:
- Resource allocation and utilization across the project
- Earned value management reports
- Resource and cost graphics
- Schedule and activity matrix reports
- Time-distributed reports
- Reflections and what-if analysis.
These are covered in our Primavera P6 training classes and we run a specific BI Publisher course for people who need a deep understanding of how to design and create reports for Primavera P6 EPPM.
Daily project management requirements mean real-time data is more valuable than a static monthly report that is probably out of date by the time it reaches the people that matter. Expect your project team members to be in and out of your software regularly as they look for the data that will help them do their work.
Flexible reporting for all needs
Most project management tools, including Primavera P6, have a range of reports built in. Start with existing templates or create your own – the Oracle family of tools is very flexible and enables you to pull out pretty much any aspect of your project in a report of some kind.
Try a few different options and see what resonates best with the stakeholders involved in the work. Some might prefer a detailed spreadsheet report; others might like the dashboard format that they can call up in real-time. Set permissions for users so they can only see what is relevant to them and keep company-confidential information secure from client users. Create scheduled jobs that automate the production of reports so you can set it and forget it – never be chased for your weekly report again!
You might still find some executives who insist on Microsoft PowerPoint slides and our top tip in that case is to screen capture the information from your enterprise project management tool and paste it into a slide! The less duplication of effort you have to do, the better.
Primavera P6 is a highly flexible and mature project management tool that captures and presents a lot of data. Working out how best to match the data requirements to your stakeholders will ensure that everyone gets what they need to do their jobs.