Point of Concern
This problem is at it again. This POBS issue keeps coming back even after periodic cleanups of the database table they are populating. It has affected our P6 User’s productivity, wasting people’s time as they wait for the process to complete. One Primavera Users complained that it is like eternity looking at the time capsule. Adding to their stress are those PC Managers and Project Managers who are already hammering the table for a schedule report, whatever that might be.
Just very recently, a couple of P6 Users were complaining that the exported XER seems to be unusually too big; ranging from 18MB to 29 MB for what should be just a moderately sized project of about 4000 to 6000 activities. They noticed an acute slowness to the export and import process. I contacted five of my planning and scheduling peers in the construction industry. They have also encountered the same problem in the last six months.
Some of the risks on the horizon if the POBS issue remained unresolved.
. Medium probability of unproductive period, by not only the P6 Users directly affected but some other members of the project team, and those relying on the scheduling output required
- Low to medium probability of contractual dispute due to decision delays contributing to overall project or a specific work package delay
- Medium probability of additional project and support cost due to inefficiency or wasted work hours
- Medium probability of reputational risk as client and operational partner; due to review cancelation, unavailable and/or delayed reports, erroneous reports due to haste, slow turnaround, indecisiveness, and similar others
They asked, “Are these to be considered normal occurrences?” They surely do not look like it.
The question is this. Is there a way of automatically preventing these Performing Organizational Breakdown Structure (POBS) from being exported into the database? Is there an auto-screening feature that will prevent them from coming in? Note that modifying the import configuration will not prevent the POBS from getting in.
The POBS was created in the Primavera days for some functionality that was never implemented. The table was not removed from P6 up to now so it sits, like the human appendix (a useless and unwanted appendage) until it goes wrong (3rd Party Contractor, 2015).
Primavera did not implement the functions related to POBS table. The table will probably be removed some future release. Primavera Version 6.7 has it. I have not used any of the higher versions, so I would like to ask those who have: do you still have this problem? Was the issue resolved on later versions such as V8.0, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.x? 15.0?
Can anyone confirm that it was resolved after V6.7? I have not come across this issue on lower version such as V6.1, and V6.2. It would be appreciated if I get some feedbacks on this. It looks to me that it has not been resolved yet even with the higher versions.
What do these Primavera User’s need?
P6 Users need to have an effective final solution to resolve the issue, including how to avoid the same issue in the future.
Final Solution Applied:
We’ve tried at least two other methods of dealing with the POBS issue but none as effective as the one I am going to share with you. We will go straight to the solution.
Since we can all agree that it is not a good idea for P6 Users messing around with XER files (and they are huge, which means that editing them in a text editor is almost impossible) using backdoor access, we accepted our third party contractor's proposal of implementing a simple application tool (small script). The small program fundamentally replicates what the Oracle Knowledgebase recommended but merely automating it. The tool cleans the stowaway POBS elements from the XERs. It runs in memory and makes a duplicate of the XER with the extension –clean. The users can then import the clean XER to the destination database.
If you are your companies Primavera Administrator, it is best to instruct all your Users to use and run the tool against the subject XER before import and after export.
I have tested it and it works. Again, it is still the solution offered by Oracle but packaged and presented in a more acceptable way. It was made available to the P6 Users to activate and clean instead of relying on the IS/IT support person who has special access. It works simply by a click of a button.
It is safe to use because it does not remove any essential schedule attributes except the unwanted POBS elements. The tool is a great relief to the Users who can now import XERs with the POBS records removed. It is much faster than importing one with large POBS entries, so the one to two minutes taken to run the POBS Cleaner will save 15 to 20 minutes, or even almost an hour of import and export time. This is not to mention the probability of import and export failure after waiting so long. Based on the test I conducted, it can actually reduce a 29MB XER file to just 1MB and less (96% file size reduction), or a 12MB file to just 47KB (99% file size reduction). This is almost preposterous! What is great about this is that it addresses the issue right away and the tool’s icon is available in a common work environment.
A second layer preventive measure recommended against the same issue from occurring again, is the implementation of a P6 job service feature in all your scheduling databases that trims the POBS table once per day or once per week on a nightly basis.
So, are we good? I believe that this article closes the chapter on POBS for now. Until next time...
The Author acknowledges that no joint venture, employment representation, or agency, relationship exists between him and any manufacturer/supplier mentioned in this article.
Rufran C. Frago - Author (081915)
Other articles authored by Rufran Frago:
- Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 1
- Risks as a Function of Time
- Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
- Changing the Culture of Your Organization
- A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
- How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
- How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
- Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
- Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects?
The paperback and Kindle edition of the book "Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective" are now available. Please follow the hyperlinks for more information.
The book provides new/additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, and for students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management. The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school. The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies. So, if you are interested, check it out!