Il est bien plus beau de savoir quelque chose de tout que de savoir tout d'une chose. [Blaise Pascal]

Use baseline and track your work

Let me tell you this story of a project manager; he spent time with his team to compile their project planning, then proudly print it on A0 page, and pin it on the wall behind his desk. This is for me one of the most common mistakes a beginner does on project management. Why? Because the time you print the schedule and pin it on the wall, the schedule is not anymore up to date. You planning is alive, people will make work and progression on some tasks, others tasks might be delayed… It is important to track the work done in order to answer the question “how are we progressing compared to original plan?”.
A snapshot of the original plan should be saved in order to allow later comparison. This is what we call the Baseline.

Once your original planning is done, you can save your first baseline, by clicking on Project > Set Baseline > Set Baseline.

Select the baseline you want to set. Note that 11 baselines can be saved (baseline, then baseline 1 to baseline 10). As this is the first time you set a baseline for this project, ensure you set baseline For: Entire Project.

When a baseline is saved, the application takes a snapshot of the following fields (all fields’ definition can be found on
  • Project start and end date
  • Work and duration
  • Cost
  • Budget Cost, Budget work
  • Deliverable start and end date
  • Fixed cost and fixed cost accrual

Baseline (somehow Baseline 0) is used as the current baseline, which means that when the scope change after an approved Change Request, the baseline is updated. I order to keep a version of the original baseline of the project, it is recommended to set Baseline AND Baseline 1 at the same time when you first set a baseline. By doing this, you will be able to compare current situation with current baseline and with initial baseline. Use Baseline 2 to Baseline 10 the same way for important scope change you want to compare later on with current situation.

Set an interim plan
Compared to a baseline, an interim plan only save two elements: a start date and a finish date. You can choose to copy current start and finish date or any of the baseline start and finish date.

Update your baseline
The only case where you have to update your baseline, is when there is an approved scope change. Let say, you add another task to your schedule. In this case you just need to update the desire baseline with the new task.
Select the new task(s) (and subtasks if any), you want to add to the baseline. Click Project > Set baseline > Set Baseline. Select the baseline you want to update. Under For:, click Selected tasks.
If you are adding subtasks to your baseline, under Roll up baselines:, you can choose among these two options to specify how subtasks interact with their summary tasks.
  • To all summary tasks Updated baseline data for the new tasks is rolled up to all associated summary tasks, not just the nearest summary task.
  • From subtasks into selected summary task(s) Baseline data is updated only for the selected summary task. Typically, you’ll do this so that only the nearest summary task reflects the new roll‐up data.

(Copied from office support)

Track percent complete for tasks
Once baseline is set, you can start tracking the work done. We will consider here two ways to add actuals (work done) to your planning:
1) By using % complete buttons
Select a task, click on the Task tab on the ribbon, on the Schedule section, you will find the % complete buttons.

Easy to understand, you can set your percentage of completion for your task by clicking on one of these buttons. You can only use these buttons when your progression is as planned (if you click on 75%, it means that 75% of your task is done and 25% of your task is remaining).

2) By entering actual work and remaining work on the task form
Doing this will allow you to enter 1) actual work and 2) remaining work. Here, you will be able, for example for a task of 2 days, to say that you already worked 2 days, but you will need another day to complete the task, meaning that the total work will be 3 days, more than initially planned.
To do so, you need to use the split view and display Task Form with work table. On the View tab, check Details and select Task Form.

Once the task split view is displayed at the bottom of your screen, right click on the right side in order to select the Work table.

You will then be able to enter the values for Task 1, Actual work is 2 days and remaining work is 1 day. The updated work becomes 3 days, where baseline work was 2 days. Click Ok to save.

Display your baseline using Tracking Gantt view
The Tracking Gant view displays your actual schedule and the baseline schedule.
On the Task tab, click on the view selector and choose, Tracking Gantt.

You can also add the baseline to your current Gantt view (non-tracking mode). On the Gantt Chart Tool > Format ribbon, click on Baseline and select the baseline you want to display.

On the Gantt chart, you will see actual work, remaining work, % complete and the baseline.

Manage your project by measuring variances and work with Earned Value Management
Because for each task you can enter new workload, new start and finish date, now you can measure variances (compared to the baseline):
  • Start variance, being the difference between actual start date and baseline start date
  • Finish variance, being the difference between actual finish date and baseline finish date
  • Duration variance, being the difference between actual duration and baseline duration
  • Work variance, being the difference between actual work and baseline work
  • Cost variance, being the difference between actual cost and baseline cost

Going further, you can use Earned Value Management to monitor your project. I wrote an article on using EVM on a previous blog post: Project Management: Understanding EarnedValue Management.


  1. Thanks for those valuable informations. I am conflicted on how to create a baseline for a project. Which of the following scenarios would be considered a "best practice" for creating a project baseline in which to measure progress and get some schedule-related EVM metrics? Is Primavera Really usefull for this process, What you did was exactly what I suggested???
    Best Primavera training


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