Comparison of Primavera P3 & P6

By Andrew Tennyson

Primavera Project Planner -- also referred to as P3 -- was project-management software developed by Primavera Systems. Oracle Corporation purchased Primavera in 2008. In 2011, Oracle replaced P3 with Primavera P6 Professional Project Management. Although P3 and P6 are designed with the same intended users and large-scale, capital-intensive projects in mind, the products differ somewhat in terms of usability, database technology and features.


P3 was a standalone management environment in which one project manager or administrator was responsible for all data entry, report generation and tailoring. With P6, Oracle moved Primavera from a single-user management environment to one that supports multiple users in a variety of roles. As a result, P6 allows for the management of thousands of simultaneous projects administered by multiple users, all of whom share access to the same data stored in a single, secure database repository.

Technology and Deployment

Since its release in 1985, P3 ran on a 16-bit Btrieve database engine. P6 saw a series of changes in this regard. It can be installed in two different environments, both of which are more advanced and secure than Btrieve. P6 can be installed on a server running Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server technology or locally on a computer running Oracle XE database software. Both options also allow users to disseminate information over an Internet connection for the purpose of providing project and status updates.


Perhaps the most visible change between P3 and P6 is the move from a DOS-based screen interface to an icon-based graphical user interface manipulated with a mouse. Apart from the move to a GUI, many familiar P3 features are maintained in P6. P3’s File, Edit, View, Format, Tools and Data Menu options remain largely unaffected in terms of functionality, except that in P6 they are accessed via drop-down menus rather than using command-key combinations. The terminology used to describe some features has changed, though. For example, Activity Logs are now called Notebooks, Costs are now called Expenses, PERT is now referred to as Activity Network and Target is now called Baseline.

Additional Differences

With P6, Oracle introduced a series of new date fields, each of which is assigned to a specific activity date in the database. The company provides a detailed explanation of these date changes in its P3-to-P6 user-migration guide. Several activity types have been renamed as well, though their functionality remains intact. The Task activity in P3 becomes the Task Dependent activity in P6, for example, while Hammock becomes Level of Effort.