Primavera P6 Professional allows you to assign up to three user baselines and one project baseline per project. The following article explains these capabilities and how they can be helpful in tracking the overall status of a project and near-term interim variance reports.
Take a look at the following diagram (taken from the Ten Six Primavera P6 training course) that outlines the concept of project and users baselines.
This is the current activities in the project schedule and is editable in the activities view.
This is a static copy of the project, typically created once the final baseline has been agreed by all the stakeholders. This should be under version control and not changed without due process.
User Baseline Primary, Secondary and Tertiary
These are more ad-hoc snapshots of the project that are for near-term variance and comparison reporting.
When you create a baseline in Primavera P6 Professional using the Maintain Baselines dialog, you are in fact creating a complete copy of the project in the database: the baseline project just doesn’t appear in the project list because P6 has it tagged as a baseline copy.
Above: a baseline just created using the Maintain Baselines feature of Primavera P6. It is being labeled as Customer Sign-off Baseline.
However, this “invisible” copy of the project is visible as a baseline in the Assign Baselines dialog, and can be assigned as either a Project, Primary, Secondary or Tertiary baseline, depending on what you need.
Above: see how the baseline copy of the project appears and can be assigned as the Project Baseline. Until a baseline is assigned as a Project, Primary, Secondary or Tertiary baseline, the current project is acting as a baseline.
You can create any number of baselines within each Primavera P6 project; there is no limit to the number the tool allows you to create. However, you should avoid creating excessive baselines as each one is effectively a full project and is occupying roughly the same space in the database as the project schedule. Too many unnecessary copies of projects within the P6 database will eventually affect performance.
While Project Baselines often fall under version control, User Baselines exist to help the Scheduler manage variance in a more ad-hoc or near-term way. Schedulers may wish to take a “Snapshot” of the project just prior to a monthly update of status. They can then use the User Baseline fields to generate variance reports that show what has moved since the previous period.
To do this the user must first create a baseline and then assign it to one of the three User Baseline options.
When assigned as a Primary Baseline, the BL1 prefixed columns in the table area will contain dates pertaining to the project that is set in the Assign Baseline dialog. In the following example, the Primary User Baseline has been set to Month 1 snapshot baseline, and that is where P6 will be going to display BL1 field values.
BL2 and BL3 prefixed fields will display data from whatever baseline snapshot has been assigned in the Secondary and Tertiary fields of the Assign Baselines dialog.
BL Project prefixed fields display data based on the baseline snapshot assigned in the Project Baseline field.
Variance columns use the same BL Project of BL# prefixes to identify the project they have assigned to them in the Assign Baseline dialog.
You can also display the various baseline types in the Gantt chart using the Bars dialog. The baselines can be displayed as bars below the activity bars by selecting the Display option. You can also modify their appearance using the Bar Style settings in the lower tabs.
I hope this give you a good overview of the baseline capabilities in Primavera P6 and how to use them in practical situations. Baselines in Primavera P6 are a powerful and useful capability, particularly with the user baselines. The Primavera P6 baslines are a great tool for the project manager!
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