What is the P6 Asterisk on Date?
Have you spotted some characters appearing in your date columns in Oracle Primavera P6 and you’re wondering what they are?
Here’s a quick explanation of what the characters appended to your Start and Finish date columns mean. Spoiler: they are helpful notices from the software intended to surface information to make it easier for you to manage the project.
Why does an asterisk appear next to the date in Primavera P6?
You might see an asterisk (*) next to a date in the Start or Finish column of Primavera P6. This is an indicator that the date is driven not by scheduling logic, but by a constraint. Perhaps it’s a ‘start no earlier than’ constraint, or a fixed date milestone, or something else. Check to see if there are any constraints on the date specified in the activity details.
Sometimes you will need to use constraints – they are an option in the tool for a reason – but they can make it hard to truly understand where to spend your priority time and they can also make it harder to work with the critical path. We advise using constraints cautiously.
There is another situation where the asterisk on date column situation arises, even if the task is not constrained. That is where the project has activities with a relationship to an external project. Primavera warns you about the external relationship. This might happen if you import a project data file into Primavera but don’t have the associated details for the external project. If you do need to keep the link to the external project, you will most likely have to recreate the relationship and delete the external dates.
Regardless of the root cause, think of the asterisk as a helpful notification that there is something else influencing the date beyond the scheduling logic. If you spotted this on an activity and now can’t find the relevant line in your schedule, you can use the filters to look for activities that have start and/or finish constraints and that might help you narrow down the search.
There’s another character that you might see appended to dates in the Start and Finish column: A. Let’s look at that too.
What does the A mean in a P6 date?
Primavera has a default date display feature that appends the letter A to a start or finish value. This represents Actual: the actual start date or finish date for the activity.
Think of this as a way to quickly determine whether a task has started or not without having to use an additional Actual Start or Actual Finish column. Smart, right? And also nothing to be worried about.
Primavera P6 is a smart tool that is designed for professional project managers leading programs of all sizes. However, as you can see there are a few quirks in the software that might not be intuitive for new users. That’s why we recommend project controls specialists and schedulers take the time to familiarize themselves with all the relevant software features by talking to experts and attending a Primavera P6 training course.
Once you know the basics, move on to the advanced features. Primavera is a tool that can enhance your ability to deliver great results for your organization, so it’s worth knowing how to use it properly.