If you are running a Deltek based Earned Value Management System ([cm_tooltip_parse]EVMS[/cm_tooltip_parse]) comprising of Open Plan Professional And COBRA you may have heard the praise they are getting about the facelifts available in their v8 software. The crew there took a broom and swept away their older style (think Windows XP or Excel 2010) style interfaces to come up with new efficient interfaces that make using the tools that little bit quicker. It’s not going to take big % points of out of your cycle time during a month end but do expect that it will;

  • Make it easier to train new staff as they would be used to newer style interfaces with ribbons such as this
  • Reduce errors through bug fixes and improved actuals interface, and
  • Help get a little bit more efficient with collaboration and ease of working (think MS Excel 2010 – 2016 with less menu drill-down and frequently used buttons at your fingertip).

As below is a neat quad table showing you side by side comparisons of the two interfaces and you can immediately see the new ribbon style that is applied and is consistent between the two products. Previously you had two slightly different interfaces that were reflective of their heritage and now you have two that fit neatly with the Deltek PM Suite of products (wInsight, Acumen, PM Compass included)

Some of the major usability enhancements that have been made:

  • OPP Shared mode lock
    • Now you don’t need to ask all the people working in a schedule to close before doing a basline change, schedule driver analysis, calculate cost.
    • Benefit is that it is quicker working when you are a team working on a single schedule
  • OPP baseline delete warning
    • This option provides a secondary dialogue when deleting items in the baseline to ensure the user really wants to remove valuable baseline information
    • Benefit is a reduction in rework when someone accidentally removes a baseline task
  • COBRA Database actuals import
    • With COBRA you can integrate your actual cost information from a transaction database.
    • Benefit is you have integrity of actual cost information with the knowledge there wasn’t anyone modifying the actuals data from the finance tool
  • COBRA has views and calculated fields
    • Yes you can filter, sort in the new views plus add your own calculated column such as ETC! In the view you can filter down to a specific resource to see it across WPs or down to a single cost class or cost set
    • Benefit is you spend less time running reports and reviewing the data just filter and change your data straight away if required.
  • Little things that just make it a little bit better
    • Some little things that just make it easier…dialogue boxes can be resized, tooltips on column headings, quick access bar, find/replace enhance, conditional formatting and user defined validations, favourites for sorts/filters/views
    • Benefit is that it’s easier to train people in the tool due to the familiar excel style interface

This looks like a big change with a lot of new buttons however the behind the scenes the database schema, functions and way the tools work haven’t changed a lot which means that you can proceed with a pretty simple upgrade process. Deltek provides installation wizards and guides that help you out with the technical part. This is the way we have performed the upgrade previously;

  1. Plan out upgrade to allow time for a go live that misses month end and to ensure sufficient test timings
  2. Review licence terms and ensure customer is still active with support (essential to get the upgrades free of charge from Deltek)
  3. Review customisations (COBRA custom menu items, hooks, reports + OPP add-ins, OLE interfaces) in place
  4. Perform database cleansing either through a brand new install of the database for the v8 toolsets (preferred for customers with slow performance or a long existing database) or removal of old projects, codes, users
  5. Review server and database backup routines to ensure a rollback can be performed for worst case
  6. Trial the upgrade on a copy of the database offline
  7. IF all good then perform the real upgrade
  8. Conduct user familiarisation through 2hr introduction session and through users performing their month ends
  9. Celebrate 🙂

Some other items to be wary of;

  • OPP Backup for prior versions. OPP has a checkbox to allow you to backup your v8 data so that it can be opened in earlier versions of the tool. This is great if you work with other organisations that utilise the v3.x toolset.
  • Easy migration. Unlike the conversion from previous versions this upgrade is done in a similar way to the steps you might take in applying a hotfix. The wizard will apply database updates, change programs and perform necessary data changes for you. As the security modules remain the same there is very low chance of errors in this part of the upgrade and noting we are now 1yr+ into the v8 set of the tools you are secure in knowing initial issues have been solved.
  • What if I use wInsight? This also has a v8 of the product that uses the legendary (in BI circles) reporting tool Qlikview builtin. It is best to upgrade all items together to maintain the integrations that are capable.

So if you want to make it easier to train new staff, reduce errors in your EVMS and become more efficient then be sure to take a look at the new versions. At Skeiny we have staff who can assist with performing the upgrade including amending customisations, managing stakeholders and training staff in the new tool.  We believe the best way to upgrade is to have a combination of the skillsets of your company and ours 🙂