After the project plan has been finalized=-everyone who needs to has signed off and last-minutes adjustments have been made-the project is now ready to go. However, to track progress on the project, you need to have something to compare the actual results to. When you enter actual experience into the plan, Actual Start and Actual
Finish dates for example, Project has nothing to compare it to. To be able to calculate variance from the plan, you first have to save the project plan with a baseline.
A base line is a project plan that contains the ‘Original estimates for tasks, resources, assignments and costs. A base line plan includes the data displayed in With a baseline, you preserve the plan and use variances to judge your progress. You can compare task, resource, assignment and cost updates to the plan as well as actual information as the project work is completed. These variances are helpful for identifying potential problems in the project and in planning future projects.
When Project saves a baseline, it does not save a separate file. Rather, it saves key project data into Baseline fields within the existing project. The best time to save a baseline is after you have entered all of your estimates for start and finish tasks, duration, and costs; but before anyone has started work on the project.
Saving a Baseline
When you initially save a project, Project’s Planning Wizard prompts you to save the project with or without a baseline. In you can see the Planning Wizard options. At this point in your project planning, it may be too early to save the project with a baseline. In that case, you have two options:
• Save the project without a baseline and let the Planning Wizard prompt you until you are ready to save the baseline .
•. Save the project without a baseline and not be prompted again.
Choose this second option if the project is too small to warrant saying a baseline or if you want to initiate the option to save with a-baseline when you ready
If you are ready to save the plan with the baseline, choose Save [project name] With a Baseline from the Planning Wizard. Project inserts the baseline data and saves the project.
To access the Save Baseline option after you have chosen not to be prompted, click the Tools menu and choose Tracking» Save Baseline; This opens the Save Baseline dialog box shown in Figure 11,13. Click OK to create the baseline. The next time you save the project, Project saves the baseline with the project.
Viewing the Baseline
Once you saved the project with a baseline, you can view the baseline data by switching to the Tracking Gantt with the Baseline View, (View» Tracking Gantt and View )Tables More Tables Baseline)
The Tracking Gantt displays gray bars to reflect the baseline. Red bars indicate critical tasks (see “Viewing the Critical Path” in Chapter 13, “Assessing and Managing Risks”), and blue bars show nen-critical tasks. The baseline table contains the Baseline Duration, Baseline Start, Baseline Finish, Baseline Work, and Baseline Costs fields.
Switch to the Variance table (View >- Table >- Variance) to see how your current plan differs from the saved baseline. If you have just saved the baseline, you should not see any variance. As you make changes to the plan and update actual task, resource, and assignment data-the Variance table is the best place to see how things are going. In , “Tracking Project Pr.ogress,”we explore tracking project changes in more depth.
Editing the Baseline
After you save a baseline, you may find that you need to update certain data that you want included-in the baseline. For example, after you saved a baseline, you find out that a group of tasks that were going to be contracted out can now be handled in-house. To
incorporate this change into the project, you need to add some additional subtasks, adjust fixed costs, and add resources, Rather than include the changes as exceptions to the plan, you decide to include them in the baseline.
After you make the required changes to the project, you can follow these steps to revise the baseline for these tasks:
1. Select the changed and added tasks from the Gantt Chart Entry table.
2. Choose Tools > Tracking and choose Save Baseline.
3. Click Selected Tasks.
4. Click OK.
If you decide that the changes to the project are pervasive enough to reset the entire project’s baseline, choose Entire Project from the Save Baseline dialog box. This replaces ,the existing baseline data for the project with the new data.
Clearing a Baseline
To save a copy of a finished project without the baseline or to reverse the action of saving a baseline, you can clear the baseline from the entire project or from selected tasks. To clear the baseline, choose Tools >Tracking >Clear Baseline. Click OK to clear the baseline for the entire project. If you want to clear the baseline data only from some tasks, select the tasks first, choose Tools > Tracking > Clear Baseline, and choose Selected Tasks from the Clear Baseline dialog box.
Tracking Interim Plans
When you save a baseline, you save a full set of project estimates that you can use to track changes in your project, After you save a baseline and as your project progresses, you may also want to save interim plans along the way that record changes to the start and finish dates of current tasks.
Let’s say, for example, that you have a task in your project that is scheduled to start on 3/15/00. When you save the baseline, the baseline records this as the original start date.
You receive a call from your client, who indicates that they cannot release any more funds for this task until the start of the second quarter. Therefore, the start date of the task has to be postponed to 4/3/00. To record this change in the project, you can change the start date of the task to 4/3/00, which automatically adds a Start No Earlier Than constraint on the task.
You can then save an interim plan based on the new start date of 4/3/00. ‘ext week, your client recontacts you and gives you the go-ahead to start the task on 3/20/00. Because the assigned resources have been on hold, you seize the opportunity to get started and enter the actual start date of 3/20/00 in the project. You can now track the history of the task by showing the Baseline (original plan) date of 3/15/00, the interim plan date-:ef~/3/00, and the actual date of 3/20/00. the actual dates (Actual Start/Finish), the current plan (Start Finish), interim plan dates (Startl/Finish1), and baseline dates (Baseline Start/Finish). See “Viewing Interim Plans,” later in this , to set up this view in your project.
Saving an Interim plan . You can save up to ten interim plans during the course of a project, which you can then compare ~ the project baseline and the current plan. To save an interim plan:
1. Choose Tools Tracking and choose Save Baseline.
2. Select Save Interim Plan
3. From the Copy drop-down list, select the fields that contain the start and finish fields you want to save in the interim plan, In our earlier example, you would choose Start/Finish Dates.
4. From the Into drop-down list, select the fields you want to use as the interim ‘plan fields.
s. Select whether you want the plan to apply to the entire project or only to selected tasks.
6. Click OK to save the plan.
Viewing an Interim Plan To view an interim plan, you must insert the interim start/finish date columns into a sheet view such as the Tracking Gantt view.
Follow these steps to view an interim plan:
1. Switch to a sheet view such as Tracking Gantt view-we recommend this view because it already contains all the other start/finish date columns you might want to compare to.
2. Right-dick any column head and choose Insert > Column.
3. In the Column Definition dialog box, select the interim plan start field (for example, Startl).
4. Click OK.
S. Repeat Steps 2-4 to add the interim plan finish field.
Updating an Interim Plan After you have added the interim plan fields to a sheet view such as the Tracking Gantt view, you can edit the dates directly in the interim plan start and finish fields. Click in the interim plan start/finish cell for the task you want to edit.