By: Felix Soto Morales
Two of my major pleasures are: rock and traveling. As a result, I have attended more than 100 concerts all over the world; the most amazing of them was —no doubt— U2 during his “360º” tour. Watching a gigantic claw in the middle of a Stadium, was just spectacular.
During that whole two-year tour (2009-2011) around the world, a notorious fact was the sponsorship of BlackBerry. You could see the advertising panels all over the stadium.
Back then, having a cellphone of that brand was “in fashion”. While I had an IPhone, my colleagues used to tell me that, as an executive, I must use a BlackBerry; the “others” used IPhone. Shortly afterwards, RIM, the company that manufactured BlackBerry stopped producing them and withdrew from the consumer market in such way that today we could affirm it has disappeared. Nowadays it is dedicated to produce software for telephones almost anonymously.
Now, knowing the whole story, I can say that BlackBerry rested on its laurels; It didn’t react to the arrival of a new technology that would rule the world from that moment on: touch-screens. It’s a whole case-study at universities that even motivated to write books1 .
When it comes to technology, the one who stays behind, who does nothing to go forward, disappears from the market, “au revoir”, “ci vediamo”, “chau”, “goodbye”.
Of course it is easy to say something about a fact that has already happened, as the saying goes: “anybody is a Monday morning quarterback”. However, let me give you a forecast: the end of a story that hasn’t yet ended, you choose to believe it or not. I believe so much in that future that I am getting ready for the change.
In 1983 Primavera Systems is founded, its BlackBerry …excuse me, its main product was called Primavera Project Planner (P3), a very reliable software and very used in the construction world almost until the end of the first decade of 2000’s. I loved that software.
However, Primavera Systems needed to expand and, as Information Technology field has a lot more projects than Construction, in 1999 they decided to acquire Eagle Ray2, a company that manufactured a software oriented at IT projects, which had essentially two things: many features of P3 and also handled project portfolios, something its P3 didn’t do. They called this new software —acquired and directed to the IT sector—, “P3e” (e for Enterprise) that evolved during the 2000’s as P3e, P4, P5 and the famous P6 that you are maybe using right now. In the meanwhile, Primavera Systems left its firstborn P3 to focus on the new P6. The fame of P3 aimed to construction was capitalized by P6, so, that’s how a software created for IT sector became quickly in the new standard for construction world. As a matter of fact, I was a part of that change and as provider of the software I encouraged many P3 users to upgrade to P6.
In 2008, the powerful Oracle —with thousands of software in its portfolio— decided to acquire Primavera Systems, which by that time had three important products: P6, of course; Primavera Risk Analysis, result of the acquisition of an english company called Pertmaster; and Contract Management, directed to contracts in construction sector, well known as Expedition. In that year I was an expert on those three software.
¿What happened with these software after Oracle’s acquisition? Nothing good, one day in 2013 they sent us a statement saying that Contract Management was no longer in use and it would be replaced by other of their acquisitions: the Skyre, better known today as Primavera Unifier. You could say that from Primavera only the name had left in the contract category, because Unifier has nothing to do with Primavera.
In terms of risks, well, Primavera Risk Analysis —ex Pertmaster— was never updated anymore …excuse me, they changed the logo! The software is so good, but having eight years without any improvement since it was acquired makes me think a lot. In fact there was one more change besides the logo, they took away the Macros function, a feature loved by the most expert users of Pertmaster.
And ¿what happened with P6?, this story is more recent: they changed the logos and the database, which passed from SQL to Oracle and then came back to SQL again because of the number of users that refused to use Oracle databases. The web side of P6 was remodeled and improved, I have to say, but ¿how many people use the WEB function of P6? So few.
According to my own surveys with Latin-American, European and North American consultants, Professional version, the one you should know, is the most used. However, this version hasn’t had major changes since 2008, at least none visible to common user, except for the reengineering of icons. The fact of using or not using now the Java in the internal structure for example, is not of interest for the end user. We need new features to make our life easier, but after eight (almost nine) years, nothing has happened and I don’t think it will. Since the software isn’t perfect, at least in the construction world, the most capable users help us to discover how to fix those problems caused by software failures.
What do you think is going to happen with software that has no real upgrades? That the only thing it does is to upgrade its version year after year without making any significant change for the user. What is going to happen when other software appears, actually leaded to construction and improving with each version? Well, here comes my opinion about the future: It will happen the same as Blackberry, it will be lost in time.
Nowadays, at least in Peru, P6 is still in full swing in the construction sector. While in the past we were just three trainers to this software, now there are tens. While before only the owners get trained in P6, today more and more contractors do it. But, you know what? That wave is ending.
As a matter of fact, it’s already happening in other parts of the world, in Asia and Europe this subject is a reality: P6 isn’t the king. And in North America, when DRMcNatty, one of the best american consulting company specialized in Primavera —I would say in the world—, starts betting on other software, then the subject is more than clear to me: the extinction of Primavera P6 es imminent.
Unfortunately, when it comes to technology, our corner of the planet is always the last to get it. That’s why a few months ago I decided to represent one of these new software developments, which are captivating the world more and more. I don’t want to wait for the wave to come alone, I want to attract it.
I recently visited an exhibition in London and I could see they are already on that wave, that ‘s what Expos are for!
Some people can say I’m predicting a black swan3; however, by the reasons exposed, I think it’s not about if change is going to happen here or not, but when. The sooner we adapt to new tools, the sooner we will upgrade our standard in project controls field.
Project Controls Expo in London was a great opportunity to realize we have the same level of knowledge here. The difference is the tools they have on hand.
But I will write about the Project Controls Expo in another post. By now, I’m going to put on my shield against all the critics coming from P6 users for predicting the extinction of the most used planning software nowadays in the construction world.
1 Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
2 The P6 XER Files have this extension because of eXport Eagle Ray
3 The Black Swan theory or theory of events of Black Swan is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise and has a great impact (generally negative)