In project management, a project baseline is a saved version of the project schedule at any given moment in time. Once a project has all of the necessary data added to it, such as activities, relationships, and resources, you will want to next create a baseline to capture this data.
Project baselines allow you to track and compare changes as the schedule is updated. Baselines should be created before schedule updates are performed, as it can be used to evaluate progress through schedule comparisons.
HOW DO WE USE BASELINES?
In Primavera P6, a schedule that is built before schedule updates are performed will be given original dates, durations, units, and costs. Original durations, units, and costs represent the amount of time, work effort, and budget that the user estimates each activity will require. Original dates, similarly, will be estimated by Primavera P6 when you schedule the project. These dates represent the ideal start and finish dates for each activity based on the activity types, durations, relationships, and relationship types.
The main goal of creating a baseline is to take a “snapshot” of the original schedule that can be used as a target to track the project’s actual performance. Once schedule updates are performed, the actual dates, durations, units and costs can be compared with the original baseline values to track whether or not the project is performing as expected. In Primavera P6, baseline data can be viewed along with the current project data from the activity table columns and the Gantt chart to perform cost and schedule analysis.
P6 allows you to create an unlimited number of baselines for any project, and up to three baselines can be compared simultaneously. It’s useful to take several baselines during the project lifecycle so you can continuously compare the project to different points in the project’s past. These comparisons can be used to file claims, help you understand reasons for delays, and improve scheduling techniques for future projects.
In this article, we will go over how to create and maintain baselines in Primavera P6 Professional.
CREATING A BASELINE
To create a new baseline in Primavera P6, select Project > Maintain Baselines.
The Maintain Baselines window will open. The top half of the window will display your saved baselines, while the bottom half allows you to adjust detailed information about those baselines. Currently, there is a folder for my open project that is expanded, but empty, as I currently don’t have any baselines created.
When creating a baseline, I only need to have a Project open. I don’t need to worry about what the activity screen looks like since that can always be adjusted with Layouts after the Baseline is created.
To create a baseline for the project, select Add.
A window will open asking if you would like to Save a Copy of the Current Version as a New Baseline or if you’d like to Convert Another Project to a New Baseline of the Current Project.
The first option will simply save a copy of the current project as a baseline – for the most part, you will be selecting this option when creating baselines. Most of the time, baselines are created to be saved as a copy of the open project at any given point in time.
The second option allows you to use another project as a baseline for the current project, allowing you to compare the current project with a different project entirely. This option would primarily only be used if you want to compare the progress of the current project with the progress of another, similar project.
Because this is the initial baseline for the project and we simply want to create a copy of the project as it currently is, I’ll keep Save a Copy of the Current Version as New Baseline selected and press Okay.
The baseline has been created.
ADJUSTING BASELINE DETAILS
To adjust the baseline information, select it from the top table and use the bottom Details section to edit it:
- In the Baseline Name field, you can set a new name for the baseline. Because this is the first baseline I’m making and I’ll likely be creating various other baselines during the project’s lifecycle, I’ll name my baseline Original Baseline Version 00.
- Under Baseline Type, you can choose a type to best identify what the baseline represents. This is not a mandatory field and could be left blank. For the first baseline of a project, I like to set the type as Initial Planning Baseline.
- The Data Date field will show the date the project was set to when you created the copy and cannot be edited in this window. The Last Update Date field will tell you today’s date, or the date this file was created.
With the baseline details set, you can select Close to exit out of the Manage Baselines window. Going forward, it’s a scheduling best practice to continue to create additional baselines after each status update is done. This will allow you to have multiple reference points in the project’s lifecycle to compare with the future, updated project.
One thing to note is that you cannot interact with a baseline version of the project – it can only be used as a point of comparison. To begin this comparison, you will need to assign the baseline to the project and adjust the columns to display baseline data or use the Schedule Comparison tool in the P6 Visualizer.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please use the comment section on the bottom of this page, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to get more Primavera P6 tips & tricks directly in your inbox!
Lauren Hecker is a Primavera P6 Professional Instructor and teaches onsite and virtual Primavera P6 Fundamentals and Advanced courses. To see her next open enrollment course, please visit our calendar. To schedule an onsite or custom course, please contact us!