MS Project 2013: Why is my Baseline Work "Zero" in all Tasks? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I set a baseline and have assigned resources all of which are part of the standard calendar.  No matter what I do, the "Baseline Work" field is zero across all tasks in the project.  Why is this the case? 

    My end goal is:

    • To compare man-hours planned versus actual man-hours
    • To forecast if I have enough available man-hours vs future man-hours (do I have enough manpower to complete future tasks or do I need to bring in more help).

    Thanks for the help.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 4:39 PM


All replies

  • Hello,

    So you assigned the resources to the tasks first then set the baseline? Create the tasks then assign the resources then set the basline - does that then work?


    Paul Mather | Twitter | | CPS | MVP | Downloads

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 4:53 PM
  • No.  I created the baseline then added resources as they become available. Is this wrong?  Most of the time, I do not know who is going to be assigned to what task until the task is a week or two out in the future.  The entire project is about 4 months long. 
    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 4:56 PM
  • Correct, this work will not be in the baseline work field if you add the resources to the tasks after the baseline is set. You will need to set the baseline after the resources are added to the tasks.


    Paul Mather | Twitter | | CPS | MVP | Downloads

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 5:45 PM
  • Is there a fix I can do for current state or will I need to set a new Baseline (Baseline2) to see these results throughout?  I think I know the answer so I'm looking for a beer to cry into.
    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 6:08 PM
  • Depends on your requirements, you can just select the tasks that now have resources and when setting the baseline just choose the option for the selected tasks.


    Paul Mather | Twitter | | CPS | MVP | Downloads

    • Marked as answer by mm122345 Wednesday, February 3, 2016 6:24 PM
    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 6:13 PM
  • You can always adjust baselines as needed without wrecking your whole project.

    You can either set the baseline for the whole project at once or you can adjust for one task, and have it roll up the baseline changes to all relevant summary tasks, or you can even just have it adjust the baseline for that one task and have it influence nothing else.

    What you're wanting (I think) Is to have your original baseline from when you started. I have done this before too- I input all the actual hours and realized I never set my baseline beforehand.

    It's a mistake you make only once. Keep your head up!

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 7:40 PM
  • It has been a tough pill to swallow for sure.  I actually do not understand why this is the case in MS Project because of the complexity of making the original plan in the beginning.  Who really knows what engineer, designer, sourcing agent, etc. will be working on a task 4 to 6 months in the future or even if those people you thought were going to be available are still employed?  When I lay out a plan, I do it based on other similar projects but the names of the resources working with me change with each project and may change several times during the project so I find it very difficult to forecast man-hours into the future.

    My task is to make sure that each resource is fully loaded each day and that they are not overloaded (based on a 8 hour per day calendar).  So I'm looking at daily tasks and weekly tasks and tracking Baseline Work and Actual Work.  Does that make sense?

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 8:59 PM
  • As you have discovered, a baseline is a static snapshot of the plan as it is when you set the baseline.

    So, to have a baseline which is anywhere near useful you have to first have plan which is pretty much complete and correct.

    Of course, even then the plan changes constantly as you incorporate new and/or better information and adjust durations, predecessors/successors, resource assignments, work and cost etc.
    And you may also add new tasks, delete tasks and move tasks.
    And of course tasks get re-scheduled when their predecessors get actuals.

    So your baseline is obsolete and superseded very quickly. This has to be expected because it is just the way it is with project planning, not a flaw or a fault with MSP.

    Baselines are over-rated anyway.
    What's way more important is to make sure that the current plan is as correct and complete as you can make it.
    It is rather futile and pointless to be 6 months into a 12 month project and pining for the primitive baseline that you set 6 months ago. Baselines are used for the EV calculations, and this is why EV is over-rated too, since it ignores the changes which are always necessary as the project proceeds.

    What I do. Just save the current version of your plan with a new file name every day, so that you preserve the entire history of the plan as it was on each day of the project.

    Any help?

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 11:49 PM
  • mm122345,

    Here are a couple of suggestions you might want to consider.

    First, use generic resources instead of specific names (i.e. mech engineer instead of Joe Smith).

    Second, there is nothing unusual about not having full details about a plan at the onset. However, most plans have a total budget and an estimated work content (perhaps based on similar historical data form past plans). One way to handle that is to only plan out the details for the near term (e.g. 3 months), and leave the future tasks in what we called "planning packages". Planning packages are simply preliminary tasks that have an allotted cost and perhaps a manpower load (e.g. XXX hours of work). As the plan is executed and the near-term planning packages come due (e.g. destined to start in a month or so), those packages are replaced with detail tasks. The end result is a first cut plan that is "rolled out" as it is executed. Baselines are reset as appropriate for the newly planned work.

    Hope this helps.


    Thursday, February 4, 2016 4:14 PM
  • I realize this is late to the table but I think it's important to dissuade those who would say using the advanced features like baselines along with many of the other typically hidden tracking fields as less than valuable.

    When building a project there are 3 parts to every project concept design (before its drafted to a physical schedule); 1) the presumptive product and the steps needed to make the product (why you're creating a schedule in the first place), 2) the presumptive timeline to produce the product through the work steps identified in step 1, and 3) the necessary resources (people, dollars, equipment (raw or finished)) and where those resources are used along the lifeline of the timeline and aligned to the steps needed.

    So EVERY project whether you know the specific names of the resource to be applied to the project schedule / plan, do exist, either in your head or on some resource sheet, and should be captured and assigned / aligned to each task, even (as one of the other responses noted) if you don't know their specific name. 

    Example: In an engineering manufacturing project there are the contract negotiation, management and settlement resources, business functional resources, engineering software, engineering hardware, engineering systems resources, testing and quality as well as overall program management.  This could start as a list of C1-C4, B1-B4, ES1-ES4, EH1-EH4, etc. and listed in the resource sheet with the expected % of work from these resources available to work (not just on your project but entirety (i.e., are they full-time or part-time resources)) and when you make assignments you bring them in based on the realistic, weekly, load they can provide; in many of my projects I don't allocate a resource more than 50% to a task within a work week because EVERYBODY MULTI-TASKS.

    I hope this wasn't too much of a waste of effort in explaining WHY projects, even the smallest, should be resource loaded with SOMETHING rather than nothing before any baseline is set.  If this is done, baselines work like a dream, if not there is a lot of individual task work, as described here also, that will need to be done.

    Cheers mate...

    • Edited by jnsnfl Friday, November 9, 2018 4:28 PM
    Friday, November 9, 2018 4:24 PM
  • There are two points of interest with the Post-writers inquiry.  Before addressing the points, the reason the baseline work is zero is because he assigned resources after creating the original baseline that did not have resources loaded.  He should have read the online help guidance on using, applying a baseline which provides the reason he's looking for.

    1. Creating baselines without resources will always provide 0 Baseline hours much like the Work hours which will also be 0.  This is because there is no resource loaded to the task.  This is normal and should be expected.
    2. When you add resources to a previously baseline schedule only the work hours are adjusted because the baseline process only copies the work hours into its field when and ONLY WHEN you create a baseline.  You should (by practice not MSP requirement) never manually update the baseline hours in a schedule, it creates HUGE problems.
    3. Baseline is a snapshot of the start and finish dates, the duration and the currently identified expected hours of resource effort in the form of work, recorded in hours unless you change it.  The principal point being without a resource assigned there will be no hours on a task, regardless of baseline or not.
    4. Once you set a baseline on the project unless you have articulated a task has altered its duration from the original schedule you created the original baseline, or if you've applied updated predecessors, start-no-earlier-than, or finish-no-earlier-than or some other date constraint changing the start and finish dates; then the baseline dates and the start and finish dates, along with baseline duration and baseline work, will remain aligned. 
    5. Adding in resources after a schedule has been built and an original baseline has been created simply means the application of the new baseline will have no significant impact other than producing hours for both resource work assigned and baseline work (which is just a copy of the work hours at the time you made the baseline).

    It is understandable that frustration can be caused by not putting resources or even mock-resources to tasks in a schedule before creating the first baseline, but that is essentially because the person building the schedule has limited experience with using baselines and managing their value.

    The post-writer doesn't need baseline to compare planned vs actual because you use the fields work and actual work for the comparison, baseline only shows the same value the original planned value was before operational impact.  If he is trying to compare baseline to actual (a better report showing drift from the last time a baseline was set ) then he still needs to resource load the schedule to get the data.

    The post-writer also needs to have the best allocation of resources expected to be used to provide the future forecast, which means he/she needs to know the expected loading of the resources to the tasks over the life of the scheduled tasks, whether he/she actually has the resources available or not.  Without having a good estimate of the people doing the work and what the work entails you can't appropriately forecast, you're simply creating a SWAG.

    • Edited by jnsnfl Friday, January 10, 2020 4:44 PM clarification
    Friday, January 10, 2020 4:42 PM