What’s New in Oracle Primavera P6 Version 21.12 PPM

Oracle released Primavera P6 Version 21 PPM for download from their eDelivery web site in late 2021.

Oracle has published a tool that you may use to see the enhancement that have been introduced into P6 by comparing two different versions. This is the link to the “Oracle Primavera P6 Cumulative Feature Overview


The aim of this paper is to explain the main functional changes that users will see in the Oracle Primavera P6 PPM V21.12 added since the release of P6 PPM V20.12.

What’s New in Oracle Primavera P6 Version 21.12 PPM

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Assignment Cost are Exported

The Oracle Cumulative Feature Overview file states “When you export to Primavera XML, Price Per Unit data for assignments is included in the export file.

This statement is a little misleading and I will now explain what I have found. Please note that there are many options that affect how data is imported into a P6 database, but I have used the default options in my tests. You may receive different results with different options. Lastly this is a very difficult topic to document and understand.

Version 20 XML Import and Export Resource Unit Rate Issue

In summary the current issue with importing an P6 XML project file into Version 20 and earlier is that the imported project may calculate different cost to the project that was exported and the issue is outlined below in my example. The issue occurs when:

  • A project is be created, resources assigned and then the resource Unit Rate is changed in the Resource table.
  • Thus, at this point in time the resource assignment Unit Rate of an activity is different to the Resource table Unit Rate.
  • The activity resource assignment Unit Rate may be recalculated by running Tools, Recalculate Assignment Costs or using the Tools, Schedule, General, Recalculate assignment costs after scheduling. In this example I did not recalculate the resource assignment costs.
  • In this example the Resource table unit rate was $20.00 per hour and the resource assigned to an activity. Then the Resource rate in the Resource table was then changed to $40.00 per hour.
  • I will demonstrate the differences between exporting and importing an XER and an XML file.
  • The project was:
    • Exported as an XER;
    • The resources and project deleted;
    • Then the project imported;
    • The resource was imported into the Resource table with the $40.00 per hour Unit Rate, as it was exported;
    • The imported project used the resource assignment Unit Rate of $20.00 per hour that it was exported with and the imported project had the same costs to the exported project;
    • Thus, an XML file imports with exactly the same costs as it was exported.
  • The project was next:
    • Exported as an XML using the same process;
    • The resources and project deleted;
    • Then the project imported;
    • The resource is imported into the Resource table with the changed Unit Rate of $40.00 per hour;
    • The project assignments were recalculated based on the changed Resource table Unit Rate of $40.00 per hour, not the assigned Unit Rate of $20.00 per hour and thus the imported project calculated different costs to when it was exported.
  • Thus, a project exported and imported as an XML will calculate different costs to the exported project when the Resource table Unit Rate is different to the Activity assigned Unit Rate.
  • This has the obvious issue for a contractor that submits a schedule in XML format to a client and the client ends up with resource cost data in their schedule.

For example,

  • The project on the right has a resource assigned at $20.00 per hour, and then
  • The resource unit rate in the Resources table was changed to $40.00 per hour.

It was then exported as an XER and XML and both the resource and project deleted and the project imported:

  • The XML file again imported correctly.
  • XML file on import changed the assigned resources unit rate of $20.00 per hour to $40.00 per hour be the same as the Resource table as per the example on the right.

Thus, the imported project has incorrect activity costs.

Version 21 Changes

When the project was exported and imported into a Version 21 database it behaved in a similar way as in Version 20, but with one minor change. The change that I found in Version 21 was that:

  • When the Resource was not deleted after exporting and deleting the project and the Resource table Unit Rate was changed to a third value;
  • Then when the file was imported back into P6 V 21 then the activity assignment Unit Rate was calculated based on the Resource table unit rate of the exported project and not the revised third value of the resource Unit Rate existing in the database, which is what happens in Version 20;
  • The imported project should use the Activity assigned Resource Unit Rate to calculate the correct project costs, which it does not.

Assignment Cost are Exported Conclusion and Solution

My testing indicates that the Activity Resource assignment Unit Rate being changed on the import of an XML to the Resource table Unit Rate has not been fixed with this enhancement.

If you want the costs to remain the same when importing an XML file, then the Resource table Unit Rates must be the same as the Activity assigned resource Unit Rates when a file is exported and you must be careful when you import an XML project into a database that the resource already exists in.

There is one slight change with Version 21 and that is the imported project costs are always calculated based on the exported Resource table unit rates, but this Version is still not using the exported assigned activity Unit Rate.

If you did not understand my text above and you wish to import XML projects to calculate the same as exported projects then always ensure that the Resource table Unit Rate in the export database and import database is the same as all Activity resource assignment Unit Rate, or use XER files.

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Users may See and Set Activity Start and Finish Times in the Date Picker box when the User Preferences are set only to show the date

This is a great enhancement as P6 usually picks the wrong time when setting Actual dates, Constraints, Suspend and Resume dates when the time is not set to be displayed from the User Preferences.

  • P6 Version 20 and earlier the time is not available.
  • P6 Version 21 the time may be set from the Date Picker box.
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Financial Period Calendar Selection when Importing an XML file

Version 20 introduced the option of different Financial Period Calendars for different projects.

Version 21 introduced the option when importing an XML file to select the Financial Period Calendar to be assigned to a project.

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Maintain Relationships with External Projects When Importing from Primavera XML Files

When you import projects from a Primavera XML file, you can choose whether to retain relationships between activities in the project and those in external projects.

P6 Version 20 XML Project Import Options (see picture on the right).

Option added to P6 Version21 (see picture on the right).

On the right are three projects, MP1, MP2 and MP3 with their single activities linked.

The second project, MP2 was exported, deleted and imported with each of the three options.

  • With Do Not Import, External Dates not set.
  • With Keep Existing or Update Existing and before Rescheduling.

Note: External Early Start and External Early Finish dates are not set with this update thus allows you to import a project and NOT set External Dates when the project have External Relationships.

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IPMDAR Format Supported for EEPM Databases only

IMPDAR is a project export format required by the US Department of Defence. It is only available when you open an EEM database, when exporting from a PPM database the option is greyed out.

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Resource and Role Cost Spreads Consider Rate Changes Over Time

The Admin Preferences, Options has introduced a Cost Spread option.

This changes how the cost spreads for resources and role rates are reflected in the Resource Usage Spreadsheet and Profile, Activity Usage Spreadsheet and Profile, Tracking View, Resource Assignments window, and Activity Usage Spreadsheets and Profiles, Publishing and Reports.

In earlier versions when a resource rate changed during the duration of an activity then P6 took an average rate for the resource over the activity duration which gave an incorrect cashflow.

  • In the example on the right I have created a resource that doubled its unit rate from $20.00 per hour to $40.00 per hour after the first week
  • With Linear Spread option, which is how older versions calculated, an average rate of $30.00 per hour is used, which is $240.00 per day
  • With Unit Spread option the cash flow is calculated correctly
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Activity Critical Path

There is a new toolbar in Version 21 titled Activity Critical Path.

  • The Toolbar is displayed by right clicking on any toolbar and checking the Activity Critical Path option.
  • This will display the toolbar on the right.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Clicking on a button will activate the command and clicking again will deactivate the command

The Oracle Cumulative Feature Overview file states:

To aid in the resolution of delayed critical paths before they become project over-runs, P6 Professional can show:

  • Activities on up to 30 activity-driven critical paths, calculated on the forward pass, backward pass, or forward and backward passes (with or without resource leveling).
  • The activities on up to 30 resource driven critical paths, calculated on the backward pass with resource leveling.
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Milestone Reduced Relationship Types

P6 Version 20 and earlier supports more relationship types than P6 Version 21.

Projects imported into P6 Version 21 from earlier versions bring in and acknowledge the old relationship types but these Start Milestone FS and Finish Milestone FF cannot be set in Version 21.

If you want to learn more about Planning and Control with Microsoft Project, please check out my online course here.

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Paul Harris
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Paul Harris
Certified Cost Engineer, Certified PRINCE2™ Practitioner
Subjects of Expertise: Project Management
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Paul Harris
Certified Cost Engineer
Certified PRINCE2™ Practitioner

Subjects of Expertise

Project Management

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