Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding baseline, scheduled, and actual values, part of Microsoft Project 2010 Essential Training.
- After your project plan is approved, it's important to save baseline values, like dates, work hours and cost. When you record actual values, Project then updates the scheduled values based on the progress you've made. Before you evaluate performance in Project, it's important to understand what baseline, scheduled and actual values represent. Here I have the Gantt Chart view. This view doesn't show the baseline. It shows the current schedule and to a certain extent, what's actually happened.
To see the baseline, I'm gonna change the view. First of all, I'm going to apply the tracking Gantt. On the View tab, I click the bottom half of the Gantt Chart button and then choose Tracking Gantt. Now, if you don't see it on this menu, you can choose More Views, then in the More Views dialogue box, scroll down until you see the Tracking Gantt, click it and then click Apply. The other thing I'm gonna do is apply the baseline table. On the View tab, I can click the Tables button and then choose More Tables.
In the More Tables dialogue box, scroll up to the top, click Baseline and then click Apply. Now let's take a look at what this shows me. First of all, let's look at the timescale. The gray bars in the timescale represent your baseline. Those are the dates that you're trying to achieve when you execute the project. On the other hand, the blue and red bars represent your current schedule. In this example, while the first task starts at the same time as the baseline, but from there things start to change.
And that's pretty natural with projects. Let's do one more thing with the view. On the View tab, turn on the Details check box and then in the drop-down list choose Task Details Form. Now here's why this form is great. It has three options for the values you see. Current represents your current scheduled values, and then you can also display Baseline and Actual values. Let's use the Prepare mgt presentation task as an example and go through what these fields really mean.
We're gonna start with the baseline values, so I select the Baseline option down in the Task Details form. In this task, the Baseline Start and Finish dates are 8/26 and 9/2. And you can see those in the baseline table. Now, what the baseline values represent is a snapshot of your schedule when you saved the baseline. This is important because those baseline values are what the management team or stakeholders have approved.
Baseline covers Duration, Start, Finish, Work, Cost and some other fields. On the other hand, let's look at actual values. In the Task Details form, I'm gonna select the Actual option. Now, to look at the actual values up in the tracking Gantt, I want to apply a different table. So I click that view, then on the View tab I click the Tables button and choose Tracking. This table shows some of my actual values.
Of course, the actual (laughs) values are the values you record for what actually happens as you start working on your project. Now let's look at the current scheduled values. Down in the Task Details form, I select the Current option and then up in the tracking Gantt, I'm going to apply the variance table. So on the View tab, I click the Tables button and this time I choose Variance. Now I'm gonna drag the vertical divider a little bit over to the right so I can see all the fields, and here I have Start and Finish, which are my scheduled start and finish dates, the Baseline Start and Finish, and then the Variance between the two.
The scheduled dates are your current forecast of the schedule. Here I have Baseline Start and Finish, 8/26, 9/2. Here the Start and Finish dates, which are the scheduled dates, 8/21, 8/27. So the variance is negative, which means this task actually occurred a little bit ahead of schedule. Well, let's think about the differences between these values. Initially when you save your baseline, the baseline values and the scheduled values are going to be the same.
That's because Project takes the scheduled values and saves them to the baseline. But then time passes and things happen to your project, so you're gonna make edits to your plan and you're gonna record actual values. And all those things will change your scheduled values. So while things are going on, your scheduled values start to differ from the baseline. Then, finally, when you complete a task, it's done, so the scheduled values are going to equal the actual values.
And let's take a look at that for Prepare mgt presentation. Down in the Task Details form, I have the Current option selected, the dates 8/21 and 8/27. Well, the task is 100% complete. So if I select the Actual option, the dates are the same. Now you know what baseline, scheduled and actual values represent. You're ready to set a baseline and track performance.
- Setting up projects and calendars
- Creating tasks and milestones
- Linking and timing tasks
- Setting up and assigning resources
- Understanding duration, work, and units
- Filtering and grouping items with views
- Adding tasks to a baseline
- Updating progress and costs
- Viewing project status
- Running reports
- Importing and exporting projects