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Primavera P6

Primavera P6 Database Pollution, XER File Corruption and Solutions

Primavera P6 Database Corruption During File Imports and Why It Occurs

Primavera P6 uses a database to store its data and this database can contain millions of values, dates, and other data. The database contains dozens of tables and along with massive amounts of data storage can come data corruption. Data corruption is part of the territory when it comes to large storage capabilities, and unfortunately, Primavera P6 is not an exception to this issue.

A Primavera P6 user may notice an issue when attempting to use Primavera P6’s XER import and export feature. If the Primavera P6 database has encountered corruption, it will often show in this instance. Several warning signs may occur when exporting and importing Primavera P6 XER files.

Primavera P6 database corruption can include any of the following: erroneous POBS data and unwanted risk types (more on these scenarios shortly), data-bloated XER files resulting in extremely slow imports to Primavera P6, and Primavera P6 crashes.

Primavera P6 Global Data vs. Primavera P6 Project-specific Data

Primavera P6 contains two types of data, global data and project data. Primavera P6 global data resides at the enterprise level and it is available and usable to all projects throughout the enterprise. A Primavera P6 user can utilize resource and role information from a global data perspective, for example. This data exists outside of projects, and most importantly, the data will not be deleted if a Primavera P6 user deletes a project(s) that uses the global data. In addition, global data does not have to be imported.

Primavera P6 project data is just that – it is project-specific. Since project data is available and usable at the project level, it is accessible from the project toolbar or project menu in Primavera P6 and it can only be modified when the specific project is open. Examples of project data include individual schedule activities or the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). If a project is deleted in Primavera P6, any project-specific data will be deleted as well, and project data is imported and cannot be disregarded during import.

Some data within Primavera P6 are interchangeable, such as Primavera P6 calendars. Calendars can be created specifically for a project, such as for a special shift calendar for a particular project. Primavera P6 global calendars exist that can be used and assigned to multiple projects throughout the enterprise.

Clients and contractors often exchange copies of Primavera P6 schedules in their collaborative project environment to communicate project progress and minimize project issues. Primavera P6 users can encounter issues with bloated XER files due to POBS data and unwanted risk types, as well as complications in the database due to Primavera P6 global data exchanges between different databases. Global data has been known to create inefficiencies and duplicates when exchanged between different databases, causing corruption and undesirable actions in the Primavera P6 database.

The Primavera P6 POBS Conundrum

Several issues can occur within the XER file and one of the most common issues is with large amounts of POBS data in the XER itself. Performing Organizational Breakdown Structure, or POBS, is erroneous data that is not used for a specific purpose, and this table data exists in the Primavera P6 database. Primavera P6 creates a significant amount of information in the data tables to store this information, and when trying to import an XER file into Primavera P6, it can take up to several hours to successfully import the file.

POBS data, which is present in the POBS table in the Primavera P6 database, is not only useless but is imported and exported through the XER file. The significant amount of data, in turn, affects the speed and performance of importing XER files into Primavera P6. This can be an issue in cases where the client needs to provide the Primavera P6 schedule to the contractor, or vice versa. It is also problematic in cases where the XER file is transmitted via e-mail and the XER attachment is too large to send as an e-mail attachment.

It will take a lot of time to remove POBS data manually. However, there is a smart and simple software solution that removes POBS from the XER file with only a few clicks, which will also reduce the file size drastically. Hence, the time to import the XER file into the database will be decreased.

The Primavera P6 Issue Involving the Import for Unwanted Risk Types

Another nuisance issue associated with Primavera P6 XER files is the RISKTYPE table, which possesses up to thousands of risk categories. These unwanted risk types are mysteriously generated through an export file that is then imported into a different database. The RISKTYPE table can grow exponentially and impact numerous databases negatively. Unwanted risk types can be identified by strange text-like characters and picturesque special characters, such as diamonds or circles in the RISKTYPE table.

In addition to a large amount of unnecessary data that this can create in the XER, unwanted risk types can also cause circular references that can crash Primavera P6, which is very problematic. Imagine a client importing this catastrophe into their Primavera P6 database; this is not an ideal scenario.

Just like the POBS data, unwanted risk types can be cleaned with a smart software solution.

Efficiencies with Eliminating Issues by Utilizing ScheduleCleaner and ScheduleReader

ScheduleCleanerTM can be used to convert Primavera P6 global data to project data, which will automatically classify the data values at the project level. As previously discussed, this minimizes Primavera P6 database corruption during the import process. Global data such as global activity codes and global calendars can be successfully converted to project activity codes and project calendars, respectively.

Launch ScheduleCleanerTM and use the “Add” button to select the Primavera P6 XER file that you would like to clean:

Add Button in ScheduleCleaner

You will see a list of options that you can choose from to perform different operations. These can be selected individually or all together:

Options in Schedule Cleaner

After you have made your selections select “Ready to Clean”:

'Ready to Clean' in ScheduleCleaner

Within seconds you will receive a confirmation that the cleaning has been accomplished:

Completed sign in ScheduleCleaner

In this comparison below, you can see the original test file before using ScheduleCleanerTM and after using ScheduleCleanerTM. The second file, labeled with “_clean”, has been significantly reduced in size following the removal of the POBS data and unwanted risk type data:

Reduced file size after cleaning POBS with ScheduleCleaner

ScheduleCleanerTM is effective for removing global data, such as global project calendars, from Primavera P6 XER files. Primavera P6 global data can be translated into project data for optimum schedule efficiency and a safe XER import process into Primavera P6.

Following removal of the global data utilizing ScheduleCleanerTM’s features for “Convert Global/EPS To Project Activity Codes”, “Convert EPS to Global Activity Codes,” and “Convert Global To Project Calendars”, the example below demonstrates how the Primavera P6 global calendar was converted to a unique project calendar.

To see the data residing in the new file, use ScheduleReader open the file and go to the Activities tab and select the “Calendar” button. This is the original file with the global corporate calendar:

Global Calendar in ScheduleReader

This is the same schedule following the activity codes and calendar conversion to the project level using ScheduleReaderTM:

Activity Codes and Calendar

By using ScheduleReaderTM, you can quickly open a .xer or .xml schedule without connecting to any database and perform a quick audit to determine which data and in what format, ex Global Calendars, are included the project file.

This will also help you to spot potential issues before the schedule can be uploaded into the database and problems arise.

Using ScheduleCleaner to Remove Proprietary Data from Primavera P6 Schedules

ScheduleCleanerTM allows you to remove sensitive data such as prices, costs, and units from Primavera P6 resources and roles in the schedule. Often Primavera P6 schedules are exchanged and reviewed among clients, contractors, and other project team members and the costs and prices associated with the project schedule is something that the company submitting the XER file desires to keep confidential.

By selecting the options for “Clear All Units”, “Clear All Pricing”, “Clear All Rates”, and “Clear All Costs”, company proprietary financial information can be removed and the XER file can be safely transmitted as demonstrated below.



ScheduleCleanerTM also can remove progress and baseline data from Primavera P6 schedules. Simply select the options for “Clear Progress” and “Clear Baselines”. In the case of the deleted baseline, any deviation in the project plan will not show.

Notice that in the “before” screenshot the baseline and current dates are different, along with the fact that the first task contains completion and an actual start and finish date as a result. In the second screenshot following the use of ScheduleCleanerTM, the baseline is equal to the start and finish dates and the progress is zero percent.



ScheduleCleaner Also Supports XML Files

You can use ScheduleCleanerTM for XML file types, just like with Primavera P6 XER files. In XML files, ScheduleCleanerTM can remove all units, costs, rates, and pricing data, as well as baseline data. In addition to the actions for removing sensitive data from XER files, ScheduleCleanerTM can also convert global and EPS to project activity codes and convert global calendars to project-specific calendars.

Efficiencies in Team Collaboration Using ScheduleCleaner with Primavera P6 Schedules

ScheduleCleanerTM is an extremely useful tool to use in project organizations that require collaboration and sharing capabilities. ScheduleCleanerTM allows members of the project team to share and disseminate information safely and securely without the threat of corrupting another Primavera P6 user’s database and tables, as well as allowing the quick and simple removal of company proprietary data such as financials. Primavera P6 project team members can benefit from utilizing ScheduleCleanerTM, which is compatible with both XER and XML file formats.

About the Author

Melanie Calverley is an experienced professional with several years of knowledge and practice in Project Management as a Program Cost and Schedule Control Analyst on multi-million/multi-billion-dollar projects, Project Controls, Strategic Planning, Engineering Planning, Earned Value Management (EVM), and Earned Value Management System (EVMS) implementation, Configuration Management, and writing/editing. She commands full utilization of Primavera P6 software, MS Project, and MS Project Server. Her career background includes industry experience in oil and gas, energy, aerospace/defense, IT, litigation, and media.

Calverley has extensive experience in the planning and scheduling arena since 1999, as well as extensive experience in the aerospace and oil and gas industries combined.  Calverley has worked for the large and high-visibility players in the aerospace industry – Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as well as the large companies in the O&G industry, such as Schlumberger, GE Energy, and Chevron.  She supported NASA directly and a host of smaller sub-contractors over the years before exploring the O&G and IT industries.  Calverley understands the strict, organized flow of the aerospace industry’s horizontal and vertical logic integration, the criticality of resource loading, and the reporting functions that support Earned Value Management (EVM).  She has also participated in various audits such as DCMA audits, JSRs, ISRs, and CAM reviews.  In 2013, Calverley was responsible for implementing a full EVMS in Primavera for Cameron International’s (now Schlumberger) Process Systems Division across the globe.  The system was fully tested and successfully implemented and run in the United States, Brazil, the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Middle East.

Calverley owns her own business, Calverley Consulting, LLC, which has been operational since 2017.  Calverley is also a solid writer, editor, and process flow documentation expert. She possesses a full command of the proper English language, and she is also a published book author. Calverley developed and championed multiple process flows and written documentation via policies and procedures for various well-known companies.