You might have heard of the terms early start, early finish, late start and late finish. I will explain here in a very easy way to help you understand what early and late dates are.

Early Dates:

Say project start date is 1 March 2019.

I have one activity in my project. This activity can start on 1st March. So, the earliest date this activity can start is 1 March 2019. This is its early start date. Now, say duration of this activity is 10 days. So if this activity starts on 1 March 2019, the earliest it can finish is 10 March 2019. This is its early finish date.

Late Dates:

Say my project's end date (deadline) is 30 March 2019.

I have one activity in my project. Duration of this activity is 10 days. Now, the latest date this activity can finish is 30 March. This is its late finish date. If this activity was to finish on 30 March, having 10 days of duration, so the latest date this activity will start is 20 March. This is its late start date.

I hope you understood now the difference between early and late dates in schedule.

Late dates are usually not used. Someone might just look at the late date information, in case there is an activity he wants to start as late as possible in the project and also finish as late as possible.

If you are using Primavera P6, you can add columns early start, early finish, late start, late finish to see this information.

Primavera vs MS Project Differences

MS Project and Primavera both are reputed software applications for proper project planning, reporting, progress updating and progress monitoring. Both the software are used worldwide and they have their own benefits. There are several differences between MS Project and Primavera P6. The following are the differences between Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project software.

Baselines

In MS Project only 11 baselines can be created. In Primavera unlimited baselines can be created.

Multiple User Access

MS Project doesn't allow multiple users to work on a single project at the same time, Primavera allows you to do that. In Primavera you can even specify what features of Primavera a particular user can use , and which he can not.

Issues & Risks

MS Project lacks the feature of tracking project issues or risks. In Primavera, we can record issues and risks.

Web Support

Primavera schedule, documents and other information can be converted to HTML directly from the software. MS Project doesn't have such option.

Steps

Steps in Primavera allows you to create sub-activities (steps) of an activity. Each step can have its own start and finish date, and a completed step can be marked as completed. This useful feature is missing in MS Project.

Expenses

Besides Costs, in Primavera project expenses e.g training, travel, etc can also be added, in MS Project we can not add this information with many properties as we can in P6.

Custom Fields

Both MS Project and Primavera allows us to create custom fields. But MS Project even allows us to define complex formulas and assign the values to user-created column.field. In Primavera we can create a blank custom fields, but we can not define formulas as detailed and complex to the columns as we can do in MS Project, so users have to manually enter values in each in the field, for each column.

Columns

Primavera P6 has many useful columns. It comes installed with over 250 columns, each giving you different information. Some column category to name include EVM, Budgeting, Costs, variances, dates etc. On the other hand in MS Project, there are only around 30 columns, giving the user with much less information about the project that we can view in Primavera.

Calendars

Customized Project and resource calendars can be created in both MS Project and Primavera. But perhaps Calendars is the only feature in MS Project that is much better in MS Project as we can create different types of work day or non-work day recurrence patterns. Furthermore, we can also define range for the recurrence pattern to fall between. These easy and much demanded options are not available in Primavera, however these can still be done in Primavera manually, which is time consuming.

Multiple Activity Relationships

In Primavera P6, more than one type of relationship can be established between activities e.g we can have FF and SS between the same two activities. In MS Project only one relationship can be made between two activities.

Project Website

The Primavera P6 software can create a comprehensive website comprising of complete project details including activities, resources, reports, risks, issues, WBS, and everything that has been entered in the software. This website is very valuable feature and is not present in MS Project.

Multiple Project Creation, View and Tracking

In Primavera multiple projects can be created and viewed. This can be done in MS Project too but since MS Project is not intended for multiple project use, it doesn't allow us to do things like we can do in Primavera like multiple project tracking, multiple project or WBS comparisons, cost and units calculations.

There are many more minor differences between Primavera P6 and and MS Project but above list is of major and prominent differences between the two software.

WBS

In Primavera P6 WBS is created separately from activities. Once WBS has been created, then we can add activities with each WBS element. Whereas in MS Project, activities are indented to make them look like WBS. The separate creation of WBS in P6 allows in-depth specification of WBS elements, with as much detail as possible, and with ease. 

Reports

In Primavera, comprehensive reports can be created. In MS Project, reports can not be customized to display everything you want in the reports. However, MS Project allows us to create graphical reports and customize the graphics but this can not be done in Primavera. Primavera can show some graphics like Gantt Chart, Histograms and Spreadsheets but we can not customize their looks and the current graphics displays are not prominent enough.

Which one You Should Learn?

If you are heavily involved in a project or multiple projects, and you are requiring to computerize every detail of your project, you should go for Primavera P6. Or if you are working on a single project that doesn't require you record details other than activity schedule, resource list, and assignment details, use MS Project as it is simpler.

These were differences between Primavera and MS Project. Also read:

Recommended guides on Primavera


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