Retrieving Dates and Time Stamps From a Historical Project
We received an inquiry regarding the blog “How to Display Time Stamps in Primavera P6” asking if one can retrieve date and time stamps from a historical project. Let’s take a look at how to do this.
The quick answer is yes, provided your user preferences are set to display a time stamp, you should be able to retrieve/display that information for the current project or a saved project in P6 Professional.
The scenario becomes a little more interesting when you want to make the date and time stamps information available in the Enterprise Project Structure (EPS) at the same time all projects are closed.
To make sure dates are most recent and available for your and others viewing when you have no open projects, you must summarize the project after entering the project updates. This becomes an important feature, particularly for program managers that often want reports on numerous projects in the EPS.
This article explains and demonstrates the importance of summarizing projects after schedule updates are applied. This practice can save you and your program manager much probable heartache during reporting in the EPS.
The reason is that when a project is closed the information displayed in the EPS data columns comes from the Summary Tables. These memory Summary Tables are separate from the detailed project information memory available at the time a project is open.
Two negative scenarios can occur for a current project that is not summarized:
- The summary tables are empty so no data displays for that project in the EPS
- The summary tables are populated but with out-of-date information
The first bad situation is a minor nuisance, particularly if the veteran scheduler knows the solution is to summarize the recently updated project. In this situation, the Summary Tables are not populated so they come up empty in the data fields. Well, even the novice would know blank data fields are not right. So, they will look for an answer to the mystery of the vacant fields and, most likely, discover the Summarize feature in P6 Professional.
The second predicament can be catastrophic. Your program manager works and expends effort, then toil and sweat, and afterward, tears; producing, and, possibly, presenting project data that they later discover is not current. And they will have no warning flags from P6 Professional that the data in their reporting is no longer relevant.
They will have to rely solely on their own expertise of the projects in the program to infer/conjecture that the data is amiss. To avoid this unfortunate happening, program managers must drill their schedulers to always summarize schedules after their updates. Then do their part and follow up with you and confirm the execution and follow-through of the task to summarize the project after revisions.
A way to avoid this situation is one advantage of the P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) database. The system administrator can create a nightly service to summarize a project or projects in an EPS node; the equivalent of a node in Microsoft Windows is the folder though a Windows folder is less robust than a P6 EPS node.
With this Summarize service, program managers have assurance, as per the scheduled service set up by the system administrator, that the project data in their presented report is correct. And this can be done by the server when all team members and project managers are home resting (and asleep) at night. So, with a nightly Summarize service the program manager has one less important program management step that hinges on their personal memory.
Lat’s look at a demonstration. In Figure 1, we have our open WELLMONT01 project in the DEMO EPS node displaying start, finish, project baseline start, and project baseline finish.
It displays all the date information needed including our AM/PM time stamp. (Note the WELLMONT01 folder icon, Figure 1, representing an open project folder.) Watch what happens to most of our date data after we close the project, Figure 2.
Now that the WELLMONT01 project file is closed in Figure 3, (Observe the closed folder icon.) the fields for the finish date and all project baseline date data are blank.
This is a problem, but everyone knows the data is missing so we can deal with this issue. Much worse is the situation where all these fields are populated but with noncurrent dates; only the well-informed project team members will know to question the accuracy of these presented but incorrect dates.
Proceeding we again open the project, Figure 4.
Note the open folder icon indicating our project is currently open. Our date and timestamp information reappears. So, if our project is open, we are safe. But running reports on all projects in a program is memory intensive for the computer. The better solution is therefore to summarize our recently opened and updated schedule. In Figure 5 we choose Tools | Summarize | Open Projects.
Then see what happens when we again close all projects, Figure 6, but having just previously summarized our open project, WELLMONT01, in the DEMO node.
When we look again at our WELLMONT01 project in the DEMO EPS node, Figure 7, we see that all our project data fields are populated, which is what we want.
(Note the closed folder icon in Figure 7.) That demonstration shows the summarize tool in action. Let us continue, and experiment with a schedule update, Figure 8.
In Figure 8 we have a progressed schedule. Look at the project end date: April 1st, 2024. Previously, it was March 25th, 2024. Let us now look at our open project in the EPS, Figure 9.
The EPS is displaying the correct current Finish date of the project, April 1st, 2024. Finally, we close our project in the EPS again, Figure 10.
When our WELLMONT01 project is closed, Figure 11, the Finish date reverts to the date stored in the Summary Tables, which is outdated and incorrect after our prior entry of schedule updates.
The program manager’s report including our WELLMONT01 project is incorrect. But how would your program manager know? So, what happened in our demonstration is that the correct project finish date is (ironically) April Fool’s Day, but the program manager unknowingly reports March 25th as project completion, which, most likely, leads to embarrassment and loss of credibility for the program. Neither funny nor good!
If your projects in the EPS are all open, the information populating data fields come from the Project Detail memory and is, therefore, the most current. However, this challenges memory, so P6 Professional has Summary Tables that can store a boatload of information about your project, but not too much data to create memory problems.
When projects in the EPS are closed the information displayed in the data fields comes from the Summary Tables. This is a good solution provided your Summary Tables are current.
The hiccup comes when you neglect to summarize your schedule after providing updates. Then your program manager runs reports in the EPS on a basket of closed projects, including the un-summarized and inaccurate data.
This can require follow-on amendments to correct the erroneous data in the original report. Therefore, it is imperative to summarize your schedule after entering progress. As mentioned, this problem can be averted if the database is on a P6 EPPM server, and the system administrator creates a service to summarize projects while you sleep at night.