What is Primavera’s P6 Enterprise Project Structure (EPS)?
First, before we get into why it doesn’t work, let’s establish what the Primavera P6 EPS is. Per Oracle’s online documentation, About the Enterprise Project Structure (EPS):
“The enterprise project structure (EPS) represents the hierarchical structure of all projects in the database. The EPS can be subdivided into as many levels or nodes as needed to represent work at your organization… The number of EPS levels and their structure depend on the scope of your projects and how you want to summarize data…Multiple levels enable you to manage projects separately while retaining the ability to roll up and summarize data to higher levels.” (emphasis added)
More simply, the EPS is a folder structure that shows summary data at each folder level. Let’s be clear: the P6 EPS is, at best, a central location for schedule files. However, the EPS does not, and likely never will, work as an effective enterprise summary or extension of the WBS. Here’s why:
P6 is a primarily a scheduling tool; meaning, schedules are constantly being imported and updated, what-ifs created, and back-ups restored and analyzed. Notwithstanding, the EPS summarizes data from all schedules within its structure, regardless of what type or what their status is. By nature of using the scheduling system, the EPS roll-up fails.
Workarounds: Of course, P6 users have developed workarounds; creating unique codes being probably the most common. These workarounds typically work “ok” when importing a schedule or creating a new schedule; but, they fail horribly when schedules are copied or baselines restored. Managing coding becomes cumbersome as a workaround for the EPS to summarize properly.
Many of the schedules are at some level of “draft” almost all of the time. To summarize multiple schedules accurately, their update status and data dates need to align. Assuming you committed to and achieved a workaround to managing the schedules: i.e. through rigorous procedures you assured that all schedules are current and active, have proper coding, and are viewed properly. The question remains: “when is the EPS summary accurate?”, or asked a different way: “when do all schedules perfectly align?” Using P6 to manage multiple schedules, including internal schedules that are constantly updated and external schedules that are submitted at various dates, requires extreme diligence and near perfection in order to align all schedules for an accurate EPS summary.
Workarounds: As with managing schedules, there are workarounds for managing schedule timing and update alignment: using “fake” schedules, estimating updates, or forcing a “pencils down” period in order to generate reports. In common practice, if you managed schedule types in your EPS perfectly and enforced a schedule updating pause, your reporting structure is only accurate for a very short period—even as the result of layers of workarounds and system quality control.
When we say the P6 EPS doesn’t work, we don’t mean that getting accurate data isn’t possible; we’re saying the diligence, maintenance, workarounds, and limitations are not worth the simple mathematics that the EPS summary provides. Cashflow, schedule quality, or an easy way to see schedule issues are not available via the EPS. P6 is also not very forgiving if you happen to receive schedule information via MS Project or Excel.
And this goes without saying, but you only get summaries of data that is in P6; you don’t get costs or dates that may be relevant to your program or organization unless they are part of or forced into a P6 schedule. Moreover, to view the EPS roll-ups, you need a P6 license, software training, an understanding of the proper coding and filters, and when the summaries are viewable and for how long they are accurate.
Saying the P6 EPS will never work might seem harsh. At ProjectControls.online, we have worked with and P6 for decades, and appreciate what it does in terms of a scheduling tool. But, we believe scheduling is an ever-evolving, dynamic process. A schedule is never perfect and never finished; it is updated with the best information at the time and new information is always coming in. Using the P6 EPS to summarize projects, programs, and organizational cost and schedule data just isn’t worth the hard work, system management, quality control, and workarounds.
Primavera P6 does scheduling well, but not enterprise reporting and management. ProjectControls.online solves this EPS nightmare, by facilitating a flexible and dynamic reporting EPS within our Portfolios module. Here’s how PC.o solves the constraints of the P6 EPS.
- Schedule Management: in PC.o, you can upload your current, active schedules from P6, MS Project or both. Keep your back-ups, and what-if schedules in P6 (or MSP) where they belong and keep updating as needed.
- Schedule Alignment: the reporting dashboards in PC.o are always “live”, summarizing the most recent reportable schedules uploaded, regardless of the alignment of their updates.
- Results: unlike P6, the user-defined EPS levels on PC.o for projects and portfolios include summary cost and schedule information, cashflows, performance data, and meta-information. Moreover, cost information can be added as a summary level manually, imported from Procore, and/or imported from an excel file. Meaning, the data that summarizes your program or enterprise doesn’t need to live within P6, or just one source.
- Access: at PC.o, one of our key missions is to make cost and schedule data accessible. Our Portfolios can be shared to anyone with a web browser, without even registering for PC.o.
For more information about Portfolios, check out this article: New Feature | Portfolios or check out our YouTube Playlist for step-by-step tutorials on how to get started on Project Portfolios with ProjectControls.online. And, as always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org.