Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 13 – Save Baseline, A K A Start the project
Before you get cracking at completing your new project using Microsoft Project, you need to stop and think. What do you track during the project?
During the project you need to:
- Track progress, in other words: how much resources are spent and how much time did this take
- Make changes to the current plan
- Compare changes in plans and actual work with the original plan
To enable these tasks, you need to track these. And now it’s time to get back to the terms Work, Duration, Unit and Cost. The meaning of these fields are in fact:
- Work= The planned workload, according to current plan
- Duration = The planned length, according to current plan
- Unit =The planned allocation, according to current plan
If you look at other columns like Cost, Start, Finish, etc, you can see the same pattern: they are all about the current plan.
If you right click a column in for example Gantt chart and select Insert—>Column you can view the column list by browsing the Field name dropdown:
If you scroll up to B you can see a lot of columns starting with the text Baseline. If you continue scrolling to A you find a lot of columns starting with Actual. This is what they mean:
- Baseline Work= The planned workload, according to Baseline plan
- Baseline Duration = The planned length, according to Baseline plan
- Baseline Unit =The planned allocation, according to Baseline plan
- Actual Work= Actual workload, according to current reports
- Actual Duration = Actual length, according to current reports
- Actual Unit =Actual allocation, according to current reports
Baseline is a snapshot of the plan at a given time. To save Baseline, you select Tools—>Tracking—>Save Baseline. In the dialog box you can select which baseline you want to save (you can save up to 10 baselines).
Observe that you can save the Baseline for only selected tasks or the entire project.
When you click OK, the values in the current plan (Work, duration, start, finish, cost, unit, etc) is copied to the baseline columns (Baseline Work, Baseline duration, Baseline start, Baseline finish, cost, unit, etc). So, if you view one of these columns now you can see that they are now filled. You could have accomplished the same if you manually had copied the information. But this is of course a bit faster…
You can now go a head and make changes to your plan. Since the values has been copied, you can compare them later, for example in Tools—>Project—>Project Information—>Statistics.
You can now also switch view to View—>Tracking Gantt.
The grey bars are your Baseline values while the colored are your current plan.
When you switch to the Tracking Gantt you can now see that some of the bars are red. They are the tasks which cannot be delayed without delaying the whole projects. Exactly how much they can delay the project can be found in the column Total Slack. Select Format—>Bar styles and take a look at the definitions in the chart part and you’ll probably get a hang of this.
One tip for the road: don’t delete tasks, assignments, etc after you’ve saved a baseline. Since the baseline values are stored on the same rows in the tables, the baseline values are then lost forever.
Next stop in this guide will be tracking progress!