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Microsoft Project 2010 : Tracking Progress on Tasks (part 1) - Saving a Project Baseline

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1/17/2014 3:22:54 AM

Saving a Project Baseline

After developing a project plan, one of a project manager’s most important activities is to record actuals and evaluate project performance. To judge project performance properly, it is helpful to compare it with your original plan. This original plan is called the baseline plan, or just the baseline. A baseline is a collection of important values in a project plan such as the planned start dates, finish dates, and costs of the tasks, resources, and assignments. When you save a baseline, Project takes a “snapshot” of the existing values and saves it in your Project plan for future comparison.

The specific values saved in a baseline include the task, resource, and assignment fields, as well as the timephased fields.

Task Fields

Resource Fields

Assignment Fields

Start

Work and timephased work

Start

Finish

Cost and timephased cost

Finish

Duration

 

Work and timephased work

Work and timephased work

 

Cost and timephased cost

Tip

Timephased fields show task, resource, and assignment values distributed over time. For example, you can look at a task with five days of work planned at the weekly, daily, or hourly level and see the specific baseline work values per time increment.

You should save the baseline when

  • You have developed the project plan as fully as possible. (However, this does not mean that you cannot add tasks, resources, or assignments to the project after work has started, for this is often unavoidable.)

  • You have not yet started entering actual values, such as a task’s percentage of completion.

Project supports not just 1 but up to 11 baselines in a single plan. The first one is called Baseline, and the rest are Baseline 1 through Baseline 10. Saving multiple baselines can be useful for projects with especially long planning phases in which you might want to compare different sets of baseline values. For example, you might want to save and compare the baseline plans every month as the planning details change. Or, you might want to save a new baseline at various points during the execution of the project plan. You could, for example, save the Baseline before work starts, then Baseline 1 a month after work starts, Baseline 2 two months after work starts, and so on. You can then view the various baselines and compare them to the actual schedule throughout the project’s duration.

Tip

Saving several baselines in a project plan can increase your file size.

In this exercise, you save the baseline for a project plan and then view the baseline task values.

Set Up

Start Project if it’s not already running.


  1. On the File tab, click Save As.

    Project displays the Save As dialog box.

  2. In the File name box, type Simple Tracking, and then click Save.

  3. On the Project tab, in the Schedule group, click Set Baseline, and then click Set Baseline.

    Set Up

    The Set Baseline dialog box appears.

    Set Up

    You’ll set the baseline for the entire project by using the default settings of the dialog box.

  4. Click OK.

    Project saves the baseline, even though there’s no indication in the Gantt Chart view that anything has changed. You will now see some of the changes caused by saving the baseline.

  5. On the View tab, in the Task Views group, click Other Views and then click Task Sheet.

    Set Up

    The Task Sheet view appears. Because this is a tabular view, it does not include the Gantt chart, so more room is available to see the fields in the table.

    Now you’ll switch to the Variance table in the Task Sheet view. The Variance table is one of several predefined tables that include baseline values.

  6. On the View tab, in the Data group, click Tables.

    Set Up

    In the listed tables, note the check mark next to Entry. This means that the Entry table is currently displayed in the Task Sheet view. You’ll switch to another table next.

  7. Click Variance.

    Tip

    You also can right-click the Select All button in the upper-left corner of the active table to switch to a different table.

    The Variance table appears. This table includes both the scheduled and baseline start and finish columns, shown side by side for easy comparison.

    Tip

    Because no actual work has occurred yet and no changes to the scheduled work have been made, the values in the Start and Baseline Start fields are identical, as are the values in the Finish and Baseline Finish fields. After actual work is recorded or later schedule adjustments are made, the scheduled start and finish values might differ from the baseline values. You would then see the differences displayed in the variance columns.

  8. On the View tab, in the Task Views group, click Gantt Chart.

    Tip

    The Gantt Chart view appears.

    Tip

    Project includes views that compare the current schedule to baseline, but here’s one quick way to see baseline values in the Gantt Chart view: on the Format tab, in the Bar Styles group, click Baseline and then click the baseline (Baseline or Baseline1 through Baseline10) that you want to display. Project draws baseline Gantt bars for the baseline you choose.

    Now that you’ve had a look at some baseline fields, it is time to enter some actuals!

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