Primavera P6 Tips and Tricks

Primavera P6 Tips and Tricks

Maybe you’re a project management pro with Primavera P6, or maybe you’re just getting started. Either way, there are always ways to improve how you use this powerful software and gain efficiencies. This article provides some useful tips and tricks to help you navigate Primavera P6 with confidence and ease. Whether you want to customize views, streamline scheduling, improve reporting, or just generally work smarter, you’ll discover some gems here that will make you wonder how you ever lived without them.

So pour yourself another coffee, settle in, and get ready to become a Primavera P6 rock star. You’ll be whizzing through projects in no time with these practical pointers and shortcuts.

Top 10 Tips for Using Primavera P6 More Efficiently

To get the most out of Primavera P6, follow these top tips:
Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Learn the keyboard shortcuts to navigate P6 faster. Some useful ones are:

  • Ctrl + N: Create a new project
  • Ctrl + O: Open an existing project
  • Ctrl + S: Save the current project
  • F5: Refresh the screen
Customize the Layout

Tailor the P6 interface to your needs. Adjust column widths,  add/remove columns, create filter views, and save layouts for different project management tasks.

Link Activities

Link activities to show dependencies and the critical path. This allows you to see how delays in one task can impact the entire schedule.

Level Resources

Assign resources to activities and level them to avoid overallocating resources. Resource leveling ensures you have enough resources to complete the work.

Use Baselines

Create baselines of your schedule to monitor progress and changes. Compare current schedules to baselines to see if the project is on track or if there are delays.

Run Reports

P6 offers many useful reports to provide visibility and insights into your projects. Run reports like resource histograms, cash flow forecasts, critical path networks, and earned value metrics.

Get Training

With a tool as robust as P6, training is highly valuable. Take courses on the fundamentals, as well as specialized topics like resource management, scheduling, and risk analysis. Stay up-to-date with new features through P6 training.

Ask an Expert

Don’t get stuck if you have a question about using P6. Ask a project management expert for guidance on the best ways to setup schedules, allocate resources, manage risks and changes, and more. Expert advice can help you improve your P6 skills.

Advanced Scheduling Techniques in Primavera P6

To get the most out of Primavera P6, you’ll want to take advantage of some of the advanced scheduling features. Here are a few techniques to help optimize your schedules:

Use activity codes

Activity codes allow you to categorize and filter your activities. You can create codes for things like location, phase, work type or responsible party. Applying codes makes it easy to generate reports, filters and layouts focusing on specific activities.

Establish relationships

Linking activities with relationships like finish-start, start-start or finish-finish allows for more dynamic scheduling. If an activity finishes early or late, the related activities will automatically adjust based on the relationship lag time you set. This can save you from having to manually update dependent activities each time there is a change.

Create calendars

Defining your own calendars gives you flexibility in how you schedule activities. You may want a standard 5-day work week calendar but also create special calendars for things like plant shutdowns, weather delays or material delivery schedules. Calendars are also useful when activities depend on external factors like tides, darkness or temperature.

Utilize baselines

Baselines provide static snapshots of your schedule that you can compare against to analyze the impact of changes. As you make updates to activities, durations or logic, you can see how that affects your baseline schedule. Baselines are an easy way to keep stakeholders up to date on scope changes and timeline adjustments. 

Run schedule simulations

The schedule simulation feature allows you to see how potential scenario changes may impact your baseline schedule. You can adjust things like activity durations, add or remove lag times or change the sequence of activities. The simulation will determine the new forecasted early and late start/finish dates so you can weigh the pros and cons before implementing the changes.

With all these advanced tools at your disposal, you’ll be optimizing schedules in no time! Take the time to explore all the capabilities in Primavera P6 and see how they can work for you.

Customizing Primavera P6 to Fit Your Needs

Primavera P6 has a lot of customization options so you can tailor the software to fit your specific needs and preferences. Here are a few ways to customize P6 to work better for you:

Change the Layout

Do you prefer seeing more activities on your screen at once or having larger fonts? You can adjust the layout in P6. Go to the ‘Layout’ menu and select ‘Layout Options’. Here you can change the font size, number of visible activities, indent spacing, and more. Save your preferred layout settings and P6 will remember them for next time.

Create Custom Filters

P6 comes with some default filters but you’ll likely want to create your own custom filters to view specific subsets of data. For example, you may want to filter to only see critical path activities or activities assigned to a particular resource. Go to ‘View’ then ‘New Filter’ to set up custom filters with the fields and criteria you want. You can save these filters to reuse.

Add Custom Columns

Need to track additional details about your activities or resources? Add custom columns. Go to the ‘Administration’ menu and select ‘Add Column’ to create new columns for activities, resources, projects or WBS elements. Add columns for things like priority level, location, or category. You can then filter and group by these custom columns.

Change Settings

There are many options in P6 to toggle on or off to suit your needs. Things like whether to show the critical path in the Gantt chart, seeing resource overallocations, autosaving options, and more. Explore the various settings under the ‘Administration’ and ‘Options’ menus to customize P6 to your preferences.

Save Views

Once you have P6 customized just the way you want, save the view so you can reuse it. Go to ‘View’ then ‘Save View’ to name and save the view. Your saved views will then appear in the ‘View List’ for easy selection anytime. This can save you a lot of time rather than having to re-customize the layout, filters and settings each time you open the file.

Taking time to explore all the customization options in Primavera P6 will help you gain efficiencies and improve your experience using the software. Configure P6 to display and function in the way that works best for you and your needs.

Integrating Primavera P6 With Other Software

Integrating Primavera P6 with other software allows you to extend its capabilities and functionality. There are a few options to connect P6 with other tools you may already be using. 

Exporting to Excel

If you want to analyze your P6 data in Microsoft Excel, you can easily export project details, resources, costs, and schedules. In P6, go to Utilities > Export to open the Export Wizard. Select the data you want to export, choose Excel as the export format, and click Finish. This will generate an Excel file with multiple worksheets containing your P6 data. In Excel, you can then create custom reports, charts, and pivot tables to gain new insights into your projects.

Importing from Excel

You can also import data into P6 from Excel to quickly add resources, activities, costs, and baseline schedules. In the Import Wizard, select the Excel file to import and map the columns of data to the appropriate P6 fields. Check the “Append new records” box to add the imported data to your existing P6 database. This is an easy way to migrate project data from another system into Primavera P6.

Connecting to SQL and ODBC sources

If your organization uses a database like SQL Server, Oracle, or MySQL to store project data, you can connect P6 directly to these data sources. Under the Database menu in P6, select “Add Database Connection” to open the Database Connection Wizard. Here you can choose the database type (SQL Server, Oracle, ODBC), input the database location and login credentials, and select which tables and views to connect. This will allow you to import data from and export data to these external databases.

Linking to other software

Some companies have built integrations to connect Primavera P6 with their software solutions. For example, products like [Company A] and [Company B] offer P6 integrations to link schedules, resources, and costs between the two systems. Check with software providers in your industry to see if they offer any pre-built integrations with Primavera P6. Leveraging these links can help break down information silos and provide a more seamless flow of data across your tools.

With some configuration, Primavera P6 can serve as a central hub, importing and exporting data to and from other systems. This level of connectivity and integration is key to optimizing project management processes across your organization. Take advantage of the options to export, import, connect to databases, and link with other software solutions.


So there you have it, a handful of tips and tricks to help you become a Primavera P6 power user in no time. Whether you’re just getting started or have been using the software for years, brushing up on these techniques can help boost your productivity and make managing projects that much easier. 

Now you’ll have more time to focus on the strategic, high-level work while letting Primavera P6 handle the administrative tasks. What are you waiting for? Log in and put these time-saving tips to work. Your future project management self will thank you.

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