Create or update a baseline or an interim plan

Before you start tracking your schedule (schedule: The timing and sequence of tasks within a project. A schedule consists mainly of tasks, task dependencies, durations, constraints, and time-oriented project information.), you may want to set a baseline (baseline plan: The original project plans [up to 11 per project] used to track progress on a project. The baseline plan is a snapshot of your schedule at the time that you save the baseline and includes information about tasks, resources, and assignments.) so that you can compare it with your up-to-date schedule later in the project. As your project progresses, you may also want to save an interim plan (interim plan: A set of task start and finish dates that you can save at certain stages of your project. You can compare an interim plan with the baseline plan or current plan to monitor project progress or slippage. You can save up to 10 interim plans.) periodically.

 Note   To set or update a baseline or an interim plan in an enterprise project (enterprise project: A project that is stored in Project Server to ensure information integrity. To make changes to an enterprise project, users with access permissions are required to check it in and out from Project Server.), you must be connected to Microsoft Office Project Server, and you must have the necessary permissions. For more information about permission settings, contact your server administrator (administrator: Sets up and manages user accounts, assigns permissions, and helps users with network or server access issues. This person can also manage and customize various elements in Project Professional and in Project Server.).

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Learn about baselines and interim plans

A baseline is a group of nearly 20 primary reference points (in five categories: start dates (start date: The date when a task is scheduled to begin. This date is based on the duration, calendars, and constraints of predecessor and successor tasks. A task's start date is also based on its own calendars and constraints.), finish dates (finish date: The date that a task is scheduled to be completed. This date is based on the task's start date, duration, calendars, predecessor dates, task dependencies, and constraints.), durations (duration: The total span of active working time that is required to complete a task. This is generally the amount of working time from the start to finish of a task, as defined by the project and resource calendar.), work (work: For tasks, the total labor required to complete a task. For assignments, the amount of work to which a resource is assigned. For resources, the total amount of work to which a resource is assigned for all tasks. Work is different from task duration.), and cost (cost: The total scheduled cost for a task, resource, or assignment, or for an entire project. This is sometimes referred to as the current cost. In Project, baseline costs are usually referred to as "budget.") estimates) that you can set to record the original project plan when that plan is completed and refined. As the project progresses, you can set additional baselines (to a total of 11 for each project) to help measure changes in the plan. For example, if your project has several phases, you can save a separate baseline at the end of each phase, to compare planned values against actual data.

Because the baseline provides the reference points against which you compare actual (actual: Information that shows what has actually occurred. For example, the actual start date for a task is the day that the task actually started.) project progress, the baseline should include your best estimates for task duration, start and finish dates, costs, and other project variables that you want to monitor. The baseline may also represent a contractual obligation for the project. Baseline information that consistently differs from current data may indicate that your original plan is no longer accurate, possibly because the scope needs review or because the nature of the project has changed. If project stakeholders (stakeholders: Individuals and organizations that are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be affected by the project.) agree that the difference warrants it, you can modify or rework the baseline at any time during the project. You may find that setting multiple baselines is especially useful for long projects or for projects in which the baseline is rendered irrelevant by significant changes to scheduled tasks or costs.

An interim plan is a set of current project data that you save after the project begins and that you can compare against the baseline to assess project progress. An interim plan saves only two kinds of information: the current start dates and finish dates for tasks. You can set up to 10 interim plans for a project. If you need to keep records of extensive project data during the planning phase, it is a good idea to set multiple baselines instead of using interim plans. For example, you may want to set a baseline at each major planning milestone (milestone: A reference point marking a major event in a project and used to monitor the project's progress. Any task with zero duration is automatically displayed as a milestone; you can also mark any other task of any duration as a milestone.). Then, if you need to save only task start dates and finish dates after the project begins, you can set multiple interim plans. For example, you may want to set an interim plan on a monthly or quarterly basis.

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Set a baseline

  1. On the View menu, click Gantt Chart.
  2. If you are setting a baseline for specific tasks, select the tasks, including subtasks and summary tasks, that you want to include in your baseline plan. (If you are setting a baseline for the entire project, skip this step.)

 Tip   To select adjacent tasks, hold down SHIFT, and then click the first and last tasks that you want. To select nonadjacent tasks, hold down CTRL, and then click each task that you want. You can select up to 10 tasks at one time.

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Tracking, and then click Set Baseline.
  2. Click Set baseline, and then select the baseline that you want to set.
  3. Under For, do one of the following:
    • To set the baseline for all data in the project, click Entire Project.
    • To set the baseline for only the tasks that you selected in the Gantt Chart view, click Selected tasks.

Under Roll up baselines, select how you want baseline data to be rolled up:

  • To all summary tasks    Select this check box if you want updated baseline data for the selected tasks to be rolled up to the corresponding summary tasks. Otherwise, baseline data for summary tasks may not accurately reflect subtask baseline data.
  • From subtasks into selected summary task(s)    Select this check box if you want baseline data for selected summary tasks to be updated to reflect both deletions of subtasks and added tasks for which you previously saved baseline values.

 Note   If you selected both subtasks and their summary tasks, select both check boxes.

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Set an interim plan

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Tracking, and then click Set Baseline.
  2. Click Set interim plan.
  3. In the Copy box, click the start and finish or baseline values that you want to save. (The current start and finish, and baseline values are not numbered.)
  4. In the Into box, click the name of the interim plan into which you want to copy the values.

Interim plans are stored in the start and finish fields.

 Note   If you select one baseline in the Copy box and another baseline in the Into box, you will save a baseline, rather than an interim plan. All baseline data will be copied. If you select a baseline in the Copy box, and a start and finish interim plan in the Into box, only the start date and finish date from the baseline will be copied to the interim plan.

  1. Click Entire project or Selected tasks to save the portion of the schedule that you want.

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Update a baseline or an interim plan

If changes to your initial plan occur after you set a baseline or an interim plan, you can update the saved data.

 Tip   If changes to your plan occur while your project is underway, you may find it helpful to save a second set of baseline or interim data, rather than updating your existing saved data.

  1. On the View menu, click Gantt Chart.
  2. In the Task Name field, select the tasks, including subtasks and summary tasks, that have baseline or interim data that you want to update. (If you are updating baseline or interim data for the entire project, skip this step.)

 Tip   To select adjacent tasks, hold down SHIFT, and then click the first and last tasks that you want. To select nonadjacent tasks, hold down CTRL, and then click each task that you want. You can select up to 10 tasks at one time.

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Tracking, and then click Set Baseline.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • If you are updating a baseline, click Set baseline, and then select the baseline that you want to update.
    • If you are updating an interim plan, click Set interim plan. In the Copy list, select the data that you are copying. In the Into list, click the interim plan that you want to update.
  3. Under For, do one of the following:
    • To update the baseline or interim data for the entire project, click Entire Project.
    • To update the baseline or interim data for only the tasks that you selected in the Gantt Chart view, click Selected tasks.

Under Roll up baselines, select how you want the updated baseline data to be rolled up:

  • To all summary tasks    Select this check box if you want updated baseline data for the selected tasks to be rolled up to the corresponding summary tasks. Otherwise, baseline data for summary tasks may not accurately reflect subtask baseline data.
  • From subtasks into selected summary task(s)    Select this check box if you want baseline data for selected summary tasks to be updated to reflect both the deletions of subtasks and added tasks for which you previously saved baseline values.

 Note   If you selected both subtasks and their summary tasks, select both check boxes.

  1. Click OK.
  2. When prompted to overwrite the existing saved data, click Yes.

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Analyze baseline and interim data

After you set baseline or interim data, you can compare it with the scheduled and actual data to see how your project is tracking against your initial goals.

View project baseline information

After you set a baseline for the entire project, you can view the baseline data side-by-side with the current planned data, the actual data, and the variance.

  1. On the Project menu, click Project Information.
  2. Click Statistics.

Compare baseline and scheduled information

You can compare baseline and scheduled information in either of two ways:

  • To view variance information in a sheet view, on the View menu, point to Table, and then click Variance.
  • To view variance information graphically by using the Tracking Gantt view, on the View menu, click Tracking Gantt.

The Variance table shows start and finish dates for both scheduled information and baseline information, making it possible to evaluate your prediction of how the project would progress (baseline) by comparing that prediction with how the project is in fact progressing (actual).

Baseline and actual bars with 2-day slip

If the variance in your project doesn't show the values that you expect, there are several possible explanations:

  • You might not have set a baseline. The variance is the baseline value compared with the actual value for a field. If there is no baseline, Microsoft Office Project calculates this difference by using a 0 value for the baseline fields, resulting in variances that are as large as the scheduled field itself. For example, suppose that you have a scheduled cost of $60 for a task. If no baseline is set, the baseline cost is $0. The Cost Variance field therefore shows $60.
  • You might have set multiple baselines, but Office Project uses only the initial baseline values (that is, the values for the Baseline field, and not the values for Baseline1 through Baseline10) when calculating variance. In this case, you might see information in variance fields, but the information might seem to be outdated and possibly too large.
  • You might have added new tasks to a project but not added them to the baseline plan. In this case, you might see variances that are equal to the scheduled values.
  • You might not have updated actual values for those tasks that are completed or in progress. In this case, variances might be equal to the scheduled values, or otherwise larger than you expect.
  • You might have added new tasks or assigned resources and then set a baseline plan, but the baseline information for the summary task has not yet been updated. In this case, accurate variance values are showing for the individual tasks but not for summary tasks.

Compare multiple baselines

If you want to keep records of extensive project data during the planning phase, you may want to set multiple baselines, because baselines store more values than interim plans. To view tracking information across multiple baselines, use the Multiple Baselines Gantt view. (On the View menu, click More Views. In the More Views dialog box, select Multiple Baselines Gantt, and then click Apply.)

 Note   By default, the Multiple Baselines Gantt view shows the first three baselines (Baseline, Baseline1, and Baseline2). To show other baselines, modify the bar styles on the Gantt chart.

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Applies to:
Project 2007