Project Management

Applying Baseline to Incremental Projects

San Diego Chapter

Paul is a Project Manager at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

The application of a baseline to projects is an essential tool in measuring project schedule performance during post-project review. Setting a baseline on a project is quite simple, and MS Project allows up to 11 baselines to be saved—so the project manager can save a snapshot of the entire project at any point in time. Setting multiple baselines can be very useful in providing an historical record of how the schedule progressed during post-project review.

The baseline tool in MS Project is found on the project tab of the ribbon and will default to the commonly used settings of “Baseline” and “Entire project.” There are additional baselines (1-10) that can be set or cleared independently, as well as the option to apply or update only “Selected tasks” within a baseline.

Using the default settings of a baseline across all tasks in the plan is both simple and effective in most cases. However, if a project has an incremental or phased approach, there can be additional considerations. In the specific case that came to my attention, the variance from baseline at the task level was being used as a performance metric influencing bonuses paid to staff assigned to tasks within the project. This raised the stakes on recording a baseline that would accurately reflect variance at the task level.

The defined procedure in our department is to…

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