Primavera Pertmaster Software Review: Bechtel
"Priceless" is the description Utpala Dubey gave regarding the return on Bechtel's investment in Pertmaster 7.82, a construction estimating and risk analysis program she has used for a year and a half to risk-analyze schedules for construction projects and some business-development proposals. "A higher confidence level makes the client, investors and senior management buy-in into the schedule much easier. This is priceless," she said.
Before it bought Pertmaster, Bechtel seldom conducted risk analysis on its project schedules, but now that the company's construction contracts are usually more than $2 billion, Bechtel is using this construction estimating software for each project. The software features three duration estimates, such as best-case, most likely and worst-case scenarios, and can drill down, identify probabilities and identifies confidence levels and risks, added Dubey.
"I personally like the schedule analyzer that helps clean up unnecessary open ends, constraints, etc. There is a templated quick-risk feature that allows one to define duration spread on some activities by a percentage spread, such as +15% or –10%," she explained. "This is especially useful when there is not enough time to model all possible risks accurately. Also, the risk register can help integrate new and typical industry-specific identified risks. Risks can be modeled, both quantitatively and qualitatively."
Dubey rated Pertmaster 7 out of 10.
How long have you been using this tool?:
I have been using Primavera Pertmaster 7.82 for about a year and a half.
What kinds of construction projects do you mostly work on?:
Bechtel designs and constructs liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, refineries, chemical plants and integrated gasification power plants.
Where did you obtain it?:
It was provided to me by the company.
How much did you pay?:
I didn't buy this product, so I don't know.
How are you using this product?:
I use Pertmaster to risk-analyze schedules for existing projects, as well as some business development proposals requested by clients.
Why did you pick this product?:
I don't know. It was provided by work.
Did you look at other tools on the market before picking this one?:
Bechtel hardly used any construction estimating or schedule risk analysis tool before. Occasionally Monte Carlo, part of an older version of Primavera, was used.
Comparing the way you work now with the way you worked before you bought this tool, what has changed? :
Before we used this, software risk analysis was hardly ever carried out on our project schedules. Our projects are now substantially bigger than the ones executed in the past, with most being more than $2 billion. Some of our clients request risk analysis of our schedules.
Pertmaster easily opens existing Primavera and Microsoft files. With the use of the three duration estimates for all the activities (i.e. optimistic, most likely and pessimistic) this construction estimating program easily identifies confidence levels and risks through the numerous, easy-to-read reports such as histograms, tornado charts and scatter plots, etc. One can even specify how many iterations the tool should go through. The user can not only identify the probably of the current schedule, but he or she can also improve the confidence level by drilling down the top 10 to 15 activities at a time, and re-looking at their execution, duration or logic ties.
What really has changed, even for schedulers like me, is the revelation that critical path analysis is only one aspect of analyzing the schedule.
Can you give us an example of a job where this tool really made a difference?:
One would be when we reworked on the world's largest refinery expansion project, the Motiva Refinery, as well as many business proposals for early engineering.
Can you estimate how much time or money you saved or other measurable benefits your firm realized using this tool?:
A higher confidence level makes the client, investors and senior management buy-in into the schedule much easier. This is priceless.
What are the best features (for your business) in this tool?:
I personally like the schedule analyzer that helps clean up unnecessary open ends, constraints, etc. There is a templated quick-risk feature that allows one to define duration spread on some activities by a percentage spread, such as +15% or -10%. This is especially useful when there is not enough time to model all possible risks accurately. Also, the risk register can help integrate new and typical industry-specific identified risks. Risks can be modeled, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Do you think it's a fair value for the price you paid?:
I don't know how much my company paid, but the Pertmaster construction estimating program is a necessity for the large, billion-dollar projects Bechtel executes.
What would you change about the product if you could?:
I would like to have more standard risk templates modeled in the report.
Are there features that you don't use?:
Scheduling, since Bechtel uses a different Primavera product for that.
Who would you recommend use this tool?:
Every EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) company, manufacturing firm or member of an industry that needs to risk-analyze its schedules.
How much computer experience do you think someone needs to use this tool effectively?:
Anyone comfortable with standard Microsoft applications and scheduling software can use this construction estimating product.
Did it take much training (or studying) to learn to use this tool?:
Those who have used Primavera or Microsoft Project will find it easier to learn because it is essentially a scheduling tool with three time estimates and the ability to generate reports based on the three-time estimates.
Have you ever called the company's support lines and asked for help?:
No, not many times. In fact, Primavera organizes free Pertmaster seminars and user sessions that one can easily attend and share experiences with other users.
How would you rate the user documentation? :
We had formal training for this construction estimating software. I haven't reviewed any user documentation, but the white papers on Pertmaster.com are very useful.
When the next version of this software comes out, will you upgrade to it?:
Yes, and I am sure Bechtel will too.
Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate this tool?:
6 without customizations, 7 out of 10 with the customizations we have made in house.