1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply on Mar 20, 2014 4:03 PM by Jerry Burrell

    What is the best scheduling tool?

    Don Kennedy


      We have had SAP for going on 6 years now.  Upper management wants a better handle on a master schedule

      that will easily interface with SAP.  Some want Primavera6 others aren't so sure.  I wanted to throw it out to the community

      to see what is a cost effective, fairly simple to implement and somewhat user friendly scheduling interface or tool we could

      implement.  Thanks for any and all suggestions.  I believe we have not scratched the surface on many avenues of what

      SAP can do.

        • 1. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
          Kent Bettisworth

          Hi Don,

           

          I hope others will comment and add their perspectives.  Here is mine...I am the Project Management & Execution SIG Chair, and a 20 year independent SAP Project System consultant.

           

          And here is the proverbial consulting phrase...it depends...

           

          So, what is the target population that needs to be scheduled?

          Who will use the information to make real decisions?

          Who will enter the required supply and the demand?

          What is the time frame for the schedule?

          Is your question relative to projects, or shop floor, or other?

          Is this a manufacturing question or a professional services provider question?

           

          Since you mentioned Primavera, I will assume the question is project-driven.

          There are 3rd party interfaces from/to SAP for Primavera. All cost money. And, SAP provides one too (called Enterprise Project Connector EPC).

           

          But there is also MRS (Multiple Resource Scheduling) tool within SAP.

           

          So, before you target a tool, more information about your environment would be needed.

          • 2. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
            Don Kennedy

            Hi Kent,

            We are a hydro facility that is about 100 years old in the Sierras above Fresno, California. we have around 120 employees.

            Are manager came from Nuclear where Primavera is  used quite a bit.  They had SAP also and liked the way Primavera

            would make a master schedule, a daliy schedule, a rolling 3 day schedule..etc etc.  There are 3 main crafts and they want a schedule

            that also goes like 3 years out.  Then as it gets closer they can say...oh right..we are 15 weeks out from the outage...everything is

            frozen on the schedule.  It will be used by the production manager and area supervisors along with foreman to assign work based on priority.  The main schedule will encompass just about everything.  We have annual outages on about 22 units that need to be scheduled in the fall through march at this time.  We have numerous relays and compliance items that need to go on there also.

            I feel we probably have not even scratched the surface as to what SAP can do.  I am open to presenting solutions that are cost effective and helpful. Thanks Kent.


            • 3. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
              Dale Whitaker

              We use the SAP to Oracle Primavera

              • 4. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                Don Kennedy

                Dale, do you think you might be able to send me a screen shot or two?  We are benchmarking right now.  Do you find that

                someone has to spend a lot time feeding it from SAP to Primavera and then visa versa?  Thanks so much for any help you can give.

                my email is donald.kennedy@sce.com if you want to send some examples and talk about pro's and con's of your situation.  Thanks again.

                • 5. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                  Roger Colaco

                  Have you looked at the capabilities of SAP PPM (Portfolio and Project Management). The project management module has some schedulling features, not meant to be as detailed as Primavera.

                  • 6. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                    Don Kennedy

                    Thanks Roger. A lot of our stuff is turned off but I will take a look if I have access.  Would you have any examples you could share by screenshots?  donald.kennedy@sce.com   thanks so much in advance for your help.  This is what the community is for and I appreciate it.


                    • 7. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                      Roger Colaco

                      Don - I sent you a document on schedulling features using PPM. Hope it helps.

                      • 8. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                        Don Kennedy

                        Thanks Roger it does help.  We have lots of things in SAP that are not turned on.  I believe when it was set up decisions

                        were made that are effecting us now as we try to move forward.  Thanks for sharing.


                        • 9. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                          Lawrence Miranda

                          I'll second Roger on PPM.  As Kent did state, there are many reasons why you might want to go with one solution versus another  (And yes, even MSP has its benefits).  However, if you're looking at an SAP solution that delivers ease of use from the end-user perspective, it's hard to discount SAP PPM - Project Management  (formerly called cProjects).   Here are my reasons why.

                           

                          We all are familiar with the integration requirement - being able to perform financials and resource identification/allocation.  SAP PPM can do that natively, whereas Project Server has depend on middlemen to integrate  (i.e. EPC/Confero).  With that out of the way...

                           

                          One of the best practices in UI development is to first understand usage, and adapt the design of any user interactions with the system based on the distinct use cases.  I can think of a few in the Project Management space:

                           

                          1. Project Manager
                          2. Resource Manager
                          3. Project Controller
                          4. Accounting / Funds or Budget Management
                          5. Team Member / Responsible Person

                           

                          Now, imagine that you could customize views and simplify only to elements that were relevant to these users.  What if you could provide an interface that allows you to interact with the system in very distinct ways based on role?  Imagine a way by which you could see a list of activities relevant to your role.  That's just one of the main benefits of PPM.  Personalized, role-based UI controlled by application and object authorizations.  This would be my first reason for recommending PPM for scheduling.  It's easy to use, everyone can roll up their sleeves and get to working... but unless you're the right person to do things like progress a schedule or post actuals, you do what you need to without creating a monumental mess.

                           

                          All things remaining the same, scheduling in PPM is much simpler than scheduling in PS, due in part to the latter's heavy interdependency with other ERP functions (and most notably CO for planning).  Now imagine if you could forget about that idea of end-user "overhead" for just one moment, and manipulate a schedule for schedule's sake alone.  Then, once you've reached a happy spot, connect the dots back to your cost objects for planning and budgeting functions.  Then, source and staff your resources, and see if that works out in the Project's favor.  PPM can be your system of record for schedule and resource management that does play to the "light" solution argument made by many in the PS camp.  But as you can see here, that may not be a bad thing!  PS will still do what it does best with cost planning, without being so "heavy" on the user.  This is the second reason I for which recommend PPM.

                           

                          I realize I'm oversimplifying the story.  It's never as simple as just this or that.  There's still multi-year financial planning, forecasting, and capacity management for projects both short- and long-term that come hand-in-hand with scheduling.  Best way to go about this is to really see what's of most value to your business.  Of course, ultimately my opinion remains my opinion

                           

                          I hope this helps.

                           

                          Lawrence

                          • 10. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                            Don Kennedy

                            Thank you so much Lawrence for your input.  We are still in the process of picking something and I would personally

                            like to stay within SAP.  I work for a large utility but our portion is relatively small, just over 100 employees so I don't

                            think we need to make it super hard.  What I am hoping to hear from in the community is maybe another small hydro facility

                            who might have similar objectives to ours.  I thank you again for your input.

                            • 11. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                              Lawrence Miranda

                              No problem Don!  If it helps, try to seek out any connections you may have within PG&E in the North.  They're also in the PPM solution, and in fact are in the process of investingating Primavera P6 integration with PPM.  They might be a good reference for you, and they're likely within your ecosystem as well.  Good luck!

                              • 12. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                                Pramod Patil

                                PPM integration with MS project also one of the option by utilizing SAP standard integration. Unless there is any specific reason for asking Primavera, MS project with PPM meets number of complex scheduling requirements.

                                 

                                Please let me know you are looking in this direction and need more information

                                • 13. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                                  Lawrence Miranda

                                  I know of two companies to date that require Primavera integration with SAP.  I think is mostly an end-user requirement, and 100% a change management item.

                                   

                                  A lot of large engineering and construction organizations (not necessarily from those specific industries)  already use Primavera (P6 or EPM), and it works quite well for that kind of LOB since it uses the WBS + NWA model to capture distinct packages of work --- which then lends itself to the creation of a project structure.  (Of course on the SAP side, PS does the same thing.)  However, it's not a question of "capabilities" that drive clients to require Primavera integration, but more of an organizational change management thing --- we don't want to disrupt the business in the performance of their project management activities while IT implements a new system for PFM!

                                   

                                  Unless there's executive push to do a hard-cutover from legacy PM tool/system to PPM, project management organizations will want to use the same basic productivity tools that they know they can run with to be successful.  Call this the "interim plan".

                                   

                                  I think to Pramod's point, this question of "best scheduling tool" is a matter of strategy:  Is P6 the go-forward solution for managing schedules?  Is it going to be MSP?  Or is it going to be cProjects?  Or will there be various combinations of scheduling and planning tools?

                                   

                                  There has to be a transition plan put in place to ensure that there proper OCM and training activities are conducted in parallel with development/deployment, such that eventually all new projects can and will be created with PPM  (i.e. "new system").  All other "desktop" tools should be secondary and optional.  This is, of course, the best case scenario.  In the end  (and for many reasons)  SAP still has to be the system of record for schedule,  resources, and cost - as they all have to tie back to ECC in some way for planning, alignment, and reporting.

                                   

                                  No matter the number of disparate tools, I recommend that organizations take a page from the "Highlander" playbook --- there can only be one. (Master system of record, that is   )  And remember that, no matter how good the design or feature set, the success of any software implementation depends highly on the acceptance, understanding (proficiency) and usage of the new asset.

                                   

                                  If people can't use the shiny new system, then it defeats the purpose; and the question of "what's best" becomes irrelevant.

                                  • 14. Re: What is the best scheduling tool?
                                    Jerry Burrell

                                    I like pretty much of what Roger and Pramod had to say. The use of the PPM area of SAP seems to be a good economic approach. Not sure about the $ to make happen though. Sorry. An idea is to purchase and use MS Project outside of SAP initially to see how that fits your need - a low cost initial option. Then if you like it you can move forward to evaluate the cost of implementation of the SAP PPM direction. MS Project I believe has what you need - only three crafts but many other interdependencies with a number of assets, regulatory requirements/timings, major site outages, other utility grid timing issues, seasonal demands associated with the hydro industry, etc. The SAP MRS is a good tool but it may be overkill in my opinion. Best wishes!

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