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What are the improvements in Primavera 6 Release 8 ?
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I’ve been studying up on the new P6 Release 8 to see what’s new in the world of Oracle’s Primavera P6 EPPM.  And I have to say, there’s some cool stuff in this new release!

The easiest way to explain it (from my slightly tilted point of view) is – think of P6 as a Centurion Warrior: powerful, not much competition, but he can be a bit intimidating for some.  Now, take P6 Release 8 – still a Centurion Warrior, in fact much more powerful than before, but warm him up a bit and make him a little more personable – that's release 8.
P6 Release 8 and Business Intelligence

P6 Release 8 brings into the P6 platform elements from the Oracle Business Intelligence Suite, P6 Reporting Analytics, and Primavera’s Risk Analysis.  There’s still some gray areas about exactly what “BI” is all about but basically, BI functionality is kind of like taking a template and a macro, merging them together and putting them on steroids.  This lets you take processes that involve many steps, that you have to repeat frequently in a manual way, and creates an automated system out of them.

One example I’ve seen was procurement.  Let's say the procurement system (outside of P6) reflects a purchase order for lumber.  The project manager has a schedule to keep (inside P6) that depends on that lumber delivery.  If the lumber is late, the buyer has to (manually) notify the PM, then they have to decide what to do about it, update the project with that information, and follow through on the action.  The BI functionality automates that process by automatically alerting the PM that the lumber is late and taking him/her directly to a screen where they can input their response decisions, which can then be fed back to the buyer who can take the appropriate action.
P6 Release 8 and Reporting Analytics

In P6 Release 8, some of the Reporting Analytics (a separate software package), also get integrated, along with some of Oracle’s BI Publisher Suite and Oracle’s Essbase.  The Publisher Suite provides 40 new reports that previously users had to create ad hoc or with third party publishers.  Behind this is the Essbase server.  Without getting too technical, Essbase is a multi-dimensional, online analytical processing server.  In a nutshell, it allows databases to be mined faster and regurgitated with more complex calculations than before.  This is the data that feeds your reports.  The ones you used to have to create ad hoc or buy other software to create.  While every business is unique, Oracle has taken some of the most commonly (and complicated) user requested reports and built them into P6 Release 8 using the Oracle BI and Essbase tools.

This becomes extremely valuable, and important, when considering that some Reporting Analytics and Risk Assessment functionality have been integrated into P6 Release 8.  Among the Risk Analysis functionality that Oracle is including is some of the ‘early steps’ such as “Schedule Checker.” This is particularly valuable because the Schedule Checker is based on the DCMA 14-point checklist for schedule quality.  A handy little tidbit indeed!  Schedule Checker also looks for things like missing predecessors or successors, and valid constraints.  Oracle has also incorporated a Risk Register and Risk Scoring Matrix.
Another very handy tool in P6 Release 8 is the "User Development Kit (UDK)."  One of the many things you can do with the UDK is to create a customized in-house training "Help" function.  Every organization uses software in a slightly different manner, and with so much customization available in the Primavera Suite, implementation between one company and another could be significantly different.  The UDK Training/Help feature lets organization administrators create tutorials in the Help center that are based on the businesses processes and customized use of P6.

Some of the ‘warm fuzzies’ you’ll see with Oracle’s Primavera P6 Release 8 are customizable toolbars, export to Acrobat and MS Office products (including security protocols), better and more logical Resource cataloging, labeling and reporting, and an overall more user friendly look and feel. And something that’s sure to make you warm with joy – Oracle’s Primavera P6 Release 8 extends their activity limit to 100,000 activities!