Blog Title

Published June 2021, Updated April 2023

USACE P6 Mandatory Requirements

Published September 2021, Updated November 2022

P6 Mandatory Requirements: 

The How and Why Behind the Requirements


P6 Mandatory Requirements

If your federal project is using the standard UFGS 01 32 01.00 10 or 01 32 17.00 20 specification, you may see a section included titled “P6 Mandatory Requirements” or “Schedule Software Settings and Restrictions”.


In this article, we’ll discuss what each of these requirements are, how they’re applied in P6, and context behind why they’re there.  


The schedule software settings described in these requirements provide consistent function and calculation methods in the schedule. They make sure there’s a smooth transfer of information from the contractor’s schedule system to the government’s system (e.g. from P6 into the government’s Resident Management System or RMS).


If these settings aren’t applied correctly, there could be transfer issues, causing delays in schedule submission, government review, and follow-on progress payments.


In this article, we refer to the P6 mandatory requirements from the standard UFGS 01 32 01.00 10 specification. There are 10 items, listed as a. through j.:

Why is this important? It’s actually a big one and applies to more than just activity codes as you’ll see in the sections below.


Global level settings applied in schedule files can cause P6 system issues when the files are transferred between different systems (or databases).


In this scenario, we’re talking about a schedule file exported from the contractor’s P6 system and imported into the government’s system, including their Resident Management System (RMS) as well as the government reviewer’s P6 database.


These issues can include field duplications, overwriting of existing global codes, system crashes, or other undesirable or unintentional issues.


The problem with global level settings is they apply across an ENTIRE P6 database. So when you import a schedule file from a different database that has global level settings, it can unintentionally overwrite or cause crashing issues within your database. Not good.


Project level settings however live ONLY within a schedule file. Because they don’t go outside the schedule file, they’re not going to wreak havoc like global level settings can.


As a rule of thumb, whenever you’re importing and exporting from different P6 databases – always choose project level settings in the schedule file.

When you’re in the “Activity Codes” window in P6, make sure the codes show up under the “Project” setting as shown below. You can get there by clicking on “Enterprise” from the top drop down menu, then “Activity Codes”.

P6 Activity Codes as Project Level
P6 Activity Codes as Project Level Example

a.  Activity Codes as Project Level

When activity codes are created in the schedule, they need to be under the Project level, and NOT the Global or EPS level.

You can get there by clicking on “Enterprise” from the top drop down menu, then “Activity Codes”. Make sure the calendars used in your schedule are under the selected “Project” level.

P6 Calendars and Project Level
P6 Calendars as Project Level Example

For the same reasons described above for activity codes, P6 calendars need to also be created on the project level.

b.  Calendars as Project Level

Activity duration types need to be set to “Fixed Duration & Units.”

P6 Activity Duration Types as Fixed Durations & Units

An activity’s duration type is based on how progress in the schedule will be tracked.


There are 4 duration types to choose from, and the “Fixed Duration & Units” is required because this setting tells the schedule that costs are to remain fixed.


Activity duration types other than “Fixed Duration & Units” may automatically (or unintentionally) change costs during a schedule update.


As you’ll read throughout the scheduling specifications, activity durations and costs are established early on in schedule development – during the Preliminary and Initial Schedule submissions.


Any changes the contractor makes later on in schedule updates need to be explained in the narrative and approved by the government. Budgeted costs should not be changing every update through schedule software mechanisms.


This setting can be confirmed in P6 by first ensuring you can view activity details. Click on “View”, “Show on Bottom”, then “Details”. The first tab, “General”, will have the information shown below.

P6 Activity Duration Types as Fixed Durations & Units Example

c.  Activity Duration Type

Note: Milestones in P6 can only have the “Fixed Duration and Units/Time” duration type and can’t be changed. This doesn’t disrupt the schedule though because  milestones don’t have durations or costs.

Activity percent complete types need to be set to “Physical.”

The ”Physical” % Complete Type setting keeps the remaining duration and percent complete unlinked, requiring manual input for both fields when updating the schedule as required by the specification sections noted above.

P6 Percent Complete Type as Physical

The % Complete Type setting is shown below.

Updating Percent Complete and Remaining Duration Independent

An activity’s percent complete type is based on how progress will be measured in the schedule. There are 3 options in P6 to measure progress: duration, physical, and units.


Having activity percent complete set to “Physical” allows independent updating of percent complete and remaining duration. The separate and independent updating requirement is described in another part of the specifications as shown below.

P6 Percent Complete Type as Physical Example

d.  Percent Complete Types

Time Periods preferences need to be set for specific quantities for hours/day, hours/week, hours/month, and hours/year.

P6 Time Period Admin Preferences Example Calendar

To confirm the calendar work hours/day, go into the “Calendars” window. Make sure you’ve selected a work day and click the “Total work hours/day” option. This will show the total work hours/day (8.0 in this example).

P6 Time Period Admin Preferences Example

This setting can be confirmed under the “Admin Preferences” window as shown below. To get here, click “Admin” on the top bar, then “Admin Preferences”, and “Time Periods” in the left column.

P6 Time Period Admin Preferences

e.  Time Period Preferences

Critical activities need to be defined as the longest path.

P6 Critical Path Defined as Longest Path
P6 Define Critical Activities as Longest Path Example

The setting can be confirmed in the “Schedule Options” window, as shown below. To get there, click the “Schedule” button (or F9 key), then click “Options”.

P6 Critical Activities as Longest Path

By defining critical activities as the longest path, the schedule will calculate the longest path from the project start to finish.


With this setting of calculation, any activities on this path that are delayed would also delay project completion.


This requirement is also touched upon in another part of the specifications which speaks to critical path report included with the schedule submissions. See below:

f.  Defining Critical Activities


This setting tells the schedule to run its calculations based on the logic assigned to the activities. While this may seem obvious, there are alternative settings that can be applied to deal with out-of-sequence progress – to ignore the logic.


To confirm this setting, go into the “Schedule Options” window (same as with defining critical activities as shown above), and make sure the “Retained Logic” option is selected.

P6 Retained Logic
P6 Retained Logic Example

The schedule needs to be set to retain schedule logic when progressing activities.

g.  Retained Logic

P6 Cost Loading Single Lump Sum Labor Resource Example

This requirement facilitates schedule importing into the government’s RMS (Resident Management System) as a SDEF file. This transfers schedule and cost information from the contractor to the government for project management and progress payment purposes.


You can view this setting in the “Resources” window in P6. When your cost loading designation is selected, look at the bottom “Details” tab as shown below.

P6 Cost Loading Single Lump Sum Labor Resource

The schedule’s cost loading needs to be set up with a single lump sum labor resource.

h. Cost Loading Single Lump Sum

Simple one here – Activity IDs can’t be more than 10 characters.

P6 Activity IDs not Exceed 10 Characters

This is due to limitations within the SDEF conversion file and the government’s Resident Management System (RMS).


In the SDEF file, activity IDs are cut off after 10 characters. They can’t be viewed in RMS or reports generated for progress payments.

i. Activity IDs

For similar reasons as activity IDs, activity names need to have the most defining and detailed description within the first 30 characters.

The SDEF file uploaded into RMS will cut off activity names after 30 characters. So – it’s important to have the most relevant information in the activity’s name upfront.

P6 Activity Names not Exceed 30 Characters

j. Activity Names

Summary

If your federal project is using the standard UFGS 01 32 01.00 10 or 01 32 17.00 20 specification, you may see a section included titled “P6 Mandatory Requirements” or “Schedule Software Settings and Restrictions”.


This article discussed what each of these requirements are, how they’re applied in P6, and context behind why they’re there. 


These settings are important because they provide consistent schedule calculation methods and performance, and also facilitate transfer of the contractor’s schedule file from their system to the government’s system.


Below is a summary of the P6 required settings:


  • Activity Codes and Calendars = Project Level
  • Duration Types = Fixed Duration & Units
  • % Complete Types = Physical
  • Time Period Preferences
  • Critical Activities = Longest Path
  • Progressing Activities = Retained Logic
  • Cost Loading = Single Lump Sum Labor Resource
  • Activity IDs = Max 10 Characters
  • Activity Names = Define/Describe within 30 First Characters


Questions or comments? Reach us at connect@cpm-ss.com.


Thanks for reading.


Related Articles:

How to Review a P6 Schedule Log

USACE SDEF Explained

Schedule Cost Loading

Schedule Linking to RMS Submittal Register

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