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Difference between Start/Finish and Baseline Start/Finish Fields

    Question

  • Please forgive my ignorance, but can someone kindly tell me the difference between the Start/Finish and Baseline Start/Finish fields (beyond what is contained in the Help file)?  Are the Baseline Start/Finish fields similar to what my company refers to as "Planned" Start/Finish (i.e., the original plan)?  If so, then are the Start/Finish fields similar to what my company refers to as "Revised Plan" Start/Finish (i.e., the original plan that has been updated due to new info)?

    If the answer to the two previous questions is "No", then can someone help me understand the purpose of these fields (again, beyond what is contained in the Help file)?

    I am using MS Project 2007.  Thanks in advance for any assistance.

    Thursday, June 02, 2011 6:39 PM

Answers

  • emerald77 --

    This is a good question, so do not apologize for not knowing the answer. Here's what you need to know:

    1.  After you completely plan your project with complete task, resource, and assignment information, the Start and Finish fields contain the original "planned" dates for every task in your project.  At this point, you should click Tools > Tracking > Set Baseline to save a baseline for your project. When you save a baseline, Microsoft Project 2007 captures the current Duration, Start date, Finish date, Work, and Cost for every task in the project in a corresponding set of Baseline fields.  The software also captures the Work and Cost information for every resource, and captures the timephased Work and Cost information you can see in either the Task Usage or Resource Usage view.  At this point, the Baseline Start and Baseline Finish fields contain the original "planned" Start and Finish dates.

    2.  As you begin entering actual progress in your Microsoft Project 2007 plan, such as entering Actual Start dates and/or Actual Finish dates, your schedule will undoubtedly change.  This means that Start and Finish dates would change, possibly earlier, but most likely later than what you originally planned.  During the execution stage of your project, the Start and Finish fields no longer contain the original "planned" Start and Finish dates; instead, they contain the "current dates" for every task in the project.  If your dates have shifted earlier or later, how would you ever know?

    3.  To know if you have variance in your project, such as if your Start and Finish dates have slipped, you can examine the Tracking Gantt view.  If you see blue Gantt bars (non-Critical tasks) or red Gantt bars (Critical tasks) that have slipped to the right of their accompanying gray bars (Baseline schedule), this means that their task Start date, Finish date, and/or Duration has slipped, compared against their original Baseline Start date, Baseline Finish date, and/or Baseline Duration.  While in the Tracking Gantt view, you can click View > Table > Cost to apply the Cost table and analyze Cost variance (shown in the Variance column).  A positive number in the Variance column indicates you are going over budget on Cost.  You can click View > Table > Work and analyze Work variance (shown in the Variance column).  Again, a positive number in the Variance column indicates you are going over budget on Work.  You can also click View > Table > Variance and analyze Start and Finish date variance (shown in the Start Variance and Finish Variance columns).  Once again, a positive number in either of these two columns indicates that your dates are late.

    Hope this helps.


    Dale A. Howard [MVP]
    VP of Educational Services
    msProjectExperts
    http://www.msprojectexperts.com
    http://www.projectserverexperts.com
    "We write the books on Project Server"

    Thursday, June 02, 2011 7:28 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi,

    I cannot be absolutely sure what exactly your company refers to (I don't know those people :-)) but yes, normally you would describe baseline as the original plan and start/finish dates as the "revised plan".

    This being said, you do know that you have to populate baseline fields yourself through tools, tracking, set baeseline, don't you?

    • Marked as answer by emerald77 Friday, June 03, 2011 3:18 PM
    Thursday, June 02, 2011 7:16 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hi,

    I cannot be absolutely sure what exactly your company refers to (I don't know those people :-)) but yes, normally you would describe baseline as the original plan and start/finish dates as the "revised plan".

    This being said, you do know that you have to populate baseline fields yourself through tools, tracking, set baeseline, don't you?

    • Marked as answer by emerald77 Friday, June 03, 2011 3:18 PM
    Thursday, June 02, 2011 7:16 PM
    Moderator
  • emerald77 --

    This is a good question, so do not apologize for not knowing the answer. Here's what you need to know:

    1.  After you completely plan your project with complete task, resource, and assignment information, the Start and Finish fields contain the original "planned" dates for every task in your project.  At this point, you should click Tools > Tracking > Set Baseline to save a baseline for your project. When you save a baseline, Microsoft Project 2007 captures the current Duration, Start date, Finish date, Work, and Cost for every task in the project in a corresponding set of Baseline fields.  The software also captures the Work and Cost information for every resource, and captures the timephased Work and Cost information you can see in either the Task Usage or Resource Usage view.  At this point, the Baseline Start and Baseline Finish fields contain the original "planned" Start and Finish dates.

    2.  As you begin entering actual progress in your Microsoft Project 2007 plan, such as entering Actual Start dates and/or Actual Finish dates, your schedule will undoubtedly change.  This means that Start and Finish dates would change, possibly earlier, but most likely later than what you originally planned.  During the execution stage of your project, the Start and Finish fields no longer contain the original "planned" Start and Finish dates; instead, they contain the "current dates" for every task in the project.  If your dates have shifted earlier or later, how would you ever know?

    3.  To know if you have variance in your project, such as if your Start and Finish dates have slipped, you can examine the Tracking Gantt view.  If you see blue Gantt bars (non-Critical tasks) or red Gantt bars (Critical tasks) that have slipped to the right of their accompanying gray bars (Baseline schedule), this means that their task Start date, Finish date, and/or Duration has slipped, compared against their original Baseline Start date, Baseline Finish date, and/or Baseline Duration.  While in the Tracking Gantt view, you can click View > Table > Cost to apply the Cost table and analyze Cost variance (shown in the Variance column).  A positive number in the Variance column indicates you are going over budget on Cost.  You can click View > Table > Work and analyze Work variance (shown in the Variance column).  Again, a positive number in the Variance column indicates you are going over budget on Work.  You can also click View > Table > Variance and analyze Start and Finish date variance (shown in the Start Variance and Finish Variance columns).  Once again, a positive number in either of these two columns indicates that your dates are late.

    Hope this helps.


    Dale A. Howard [MVP]
    VP of Educational Services
    msProjectExperts
    http://www.msprojectexperts.com
    http://www.projectserverexperts.com
    "We write the books on Project Server"

    Thursday, June 02, 2011 7:28 PM
    Moderator
  • Dale,

    Thanks for taking the time to provide your detailed and excellent explanation.  I greatly appreciate it.

    Friday, June 03, 2011 3:16 PM
  • Jan,

    Thank you for your response.  You confirmed my suspicions.

    Friday, June 03, 2011 3:17 PM
  • emerald77 --

    You are more than welcome for the help, my friend!  :)


    Dale A. Howard [MVP]
    VP of Educational Services
    msProjectExperts
    http://www.msprojectexperts.com
    http://www.projectserverexperts.com
    "We write the books on Project Server"

    Friday, June 03, 2011 3:28 PM
    Moderator