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Setting and Viewing Baselines in Microsoft Project

Our last post introduced project baselining in a general, theoretical sense. This post will demonstrate how to set and view baselines in Microsoft Project.

Microsoft Project 2016 allows you to view baseline data by applying the Baseline Table. To do this:

  1. From View:Data use the Tables dropdown arrow to select More Tables.
  2. From the More Tables dialog, click Baseline and then Apply. Your screen will resemble the following:
Figure 1.       

Baseline table applied prior to setting the initial baseline

Note: The baseline fields for the project plan displayed in the preceding figure reflect the uninitiated values that we would expect to see when a project has not yet been baselined.

Setting the Project Baseline

3    From Project:Schedule click the Set Baseline icon [ ] and choose Set Baseline….  You will be presented with the following dialog box:

 

Figure 2.   

Set Baseline dialog box

 

4    Ensure that both the default Set Baseline button and the default Entire project options are selected, and click OK. Your screen will resemble the following:

 

Figure 3.             

Results of setting a new baseline

Note that the baseline values have been updated to reflect the values of the current estimated fields.

Viewing Baseline Information

By default, Microsoft Project does not include the baseline data in the Gantt Chart view.  However, you do have several options to view and use baseline information.

Microsoft Project 2016 allows you to view a statistical summary of your project, including baseline data, through the Project Information dialog box.

1    From Project:Properties click the Project Information icon to access the Project Information dialog box.

2    Click the Statistics button.  You will be presented with the following dialog:

Figure 4.            

Project statistics

3    Click Close.

Another common method of looking at baseline data for the schedule is to apply the Variance Table to your project.

4    Make sure you are in the Gantt Chart view.  From View:Data click the Tables icon.

5    From the list of available tables, select Variance.  Your screen will resemble the following:

Figure 5.         

Variance Table applied, showing the schedule baseline dates

Note that variance values (start variance and finish variance) are set to zero immediately after setting the baseline. You can view our posts on Variance Analysis for more details.

By default, the Gantt Chart provides a visual display of planned tasks and their assigned resources.  The Tracking Gantt displays baseline data along with the current plan and actual results.

6     From View:Task Views click the Gantt Chart icon dropdown and select Tracking Gantt.  Your screen will resemble the following:

Figure 6. 

Tracking Gantt view with a weekly timescale

The gray bars represent the baseline plan, while the red and blue bars represent the critical and non-critical tasks in the current plan.  As the plan evolves during the project, the red and blue bars will move; the gray bars will remain unchanged.

For more intermediate baselining features in Microsoft Project, view our final post in the series.