Practice makes Perfect Part 2 – Baselines
When I was in a Prince2 Practitioner refresh course the other week I asked around who uses Project Professional to plan their projects. Only a few did, then I asked who uses baselines in their plans. None of them responded. This gave me the incentive to make a post about baseline usage in Project Professional.
For this post I will again use Project Professional 2013. As always this is not the finished product and images do not represent the final version. Things might change.
What is a baseline?
A baseline within project is basically a snapshot of your plan. Almost like taking a photo. This is very handy as every Project Manager knows a project plan is subject to a lot of changes. Using baselines give you a good opportunity to track what has changed in your plan.
The first thing you need to determine is “when am I making my first baseline”. In large organizations this is mostly handled by a PMO (Project Management Office) or by the Project Manager. In small organizations the Project Manager is generally responsible for setting the first baseline. If we take PRINCE2 for example your first baseline could be set at the end of the process Initiating a Project.
It is also relevant to know that Project Professional gives you 11 baselines per project. Baseline (0) to Baseline 10. When you have determined when your first baseline has to be set you have to decide which baseline to set. I recommend to always use Baseline 10. The reason behind this is that baseline (0) is easier to override by accident than baseline 10 is.
Where can I set the baseline for a project?
In Project Professional you can set the baseline under Project > Set Baseline Schedule.
As you can see in the image below you got a few options. You can select which baseline to set, Set interim plan. Set a baseline for Entire Project or Selected tasks. For this exercise I will set my first baseline for the Entire Project.
When you go back to the same screen you can see on which date you last saved your baseline. So what can you do with that? You can make it visible in your project plan. Go to Format > Baseline and select the baseline you have set. In my case this is Baseline 10. A other option is to set your Gantt view to Tracking Gantt.
When you selected this option or a tracking Gantt a bar is added in your Gantt Chart which represents the baseline. In the image below it is the grey bar.
During a project you are able to make multiple baselines to track where you are delayed or even ahead of schedule and why. I recommend you make a new baseline when you start the next phase of your project. By doing so you can so by the end of the Project where delays have occurred. These delays can then be added to your lessons learned report.
After making baseline 10 I made some modifications to the plan by increasing duration of some tasks. I also added the baseline10 Duration column to my screen to show you what I actually had planned and where the delays have occurred.
As you can see by the grey bars in my chart my project has a significant delay. This also gives you a good overview where the delays occurred. Pretty useful when reporting to the Project Board.
Reporting of baseline data within Project Professional 2013
In the image below I made a report displaying the scheduled duration vs. duration of baseline 9 and 10. This report is made by the new functionality of Project Professional 2013. (Yeah I know this is really cool!)
Being able to see where your project plan is delayed or ahead of schedule can help any Project Manager. In the case of a delay he/she can take corrective measures. For example the Project Manager could request an extra resource for a specific task to make it finish earlier and by doing so getting back on track.
The usage of baselines in a Microsoft Project plan is one of the most useful tools you can have during a project. It can really help you out. As always experiment with baselines in Project and see for yourself. I hope this gave a little insight in the use of baselines.
via SpeakingSilent » Robin Kruithof http://speakingsilent.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/practice-makes-perfect-part-2-baselines/
I am Robin Kruithof. I am working at CXS in the Netherlands as a Microsoft Project Consultant. My passion lies in Project Management and everything in the Project Management domain.