After completion of the initial planning phase of the project, where the activities, activity durations, and activity relationships have been successfully entered and scheduled, it is time to make a baseline of the project. The baseline is a complete copy of the project that is linked to the original project. The baseline allows you to clearly display where the project is diverting from the original plan.
Project vs. User Baselines
You may make numerous copies of the project and assign them to either of two types of baselines: a project baseline or a user baseline. The project baseline is the main baseline that is used for tracking variance and for earned value calculations. The project baseline should not be changed unless an official administrative change process has been followed. An example of a possible change request is when the estimators acquire more accurate information on crew outputs that will cause the change of several activity durations. Their request to change activity durations should proceed through a formal change process.
On the other hand, changing user baselines does not require a formal change process. The user baselines are for taking snapshots of the project. The Primavera P6 Gantt chart allows you to display a couple of different user baselines at one time. There are numerous baseline activity table outputs available for the project baseline and primary baseline. The secondary and tertiary user baselines only have two outputs each.
Creating the baselines is a straightforward process. Select the Project | Maintain Baselines option on the main drop down menu. This will bring up the dialog displayed in Figure 1. As shown in the figure, select the + Add button to create a copy of the project.
When the Add New Baseline dialog appears, select the toggle to “Save a copy of the current project as a new baseline”. Select the newly created baseline. Then in the Baseline Type drop down menu in the lower left hand corner of the Maintain Baseline dialog, Figure 2, select the “Initial Planning Baseline” type for the baseline. Note that if your desired baseline type is not in the drop down list you can add it by selecting the Admin | Admin Categories option on the main drop down menu.
Now that your baseline is created you may assign it to one of four baselines in the Assign Baselines dialog. This is brought up by selecting the Project | Assign Baselines option in the main drop down menu. Selecting the Assign Baselines option will bring up the Assign Baselines dialog displayed in Figure 3. You may assign the baseline to any one of the four types of baselines.
After you assign your baseline to any of the four types of baselines you are ready to display the User Baseline on your Gantt chart. Select the Bar icon on the layout tool group. From the list of available Bars select “Primary Baseline”, Figure 4.
In the Timescale column select “Primary Baseline Bar”. The filter is Normal; which is a default filter that shows just Task Dependent, Resource Dependent, and WBS Summary activity types. In the lower left corner of the Bar Style Tab dialog select Row 2 for the primary baseline to appear on the second row of the Gantt chart. There are three rows available for the Gantt chart: row 1 is most typically used for the active project schedule, while rows 2 and 3 are more typically used for any of the user defined baselines. In our example we select row 2 for the Primary Baseline Bar.
In the Bar Shape option of the Bar Style Tab select the thickest shape available for easy viewing, Figure 5.
If you selected and set the Bar Style for your primary schedule as discussed above then you will see the Gantt chart as displayed similarly to Figure 6. In Figure 6 you have the planned or active schedule in red or green depending on whether the activity is critical or not. Below the planned or active schedule in row 2 is the primary baseline Bar shown in yellow.
So now we have the planned or active schedule with the baseline displayed and ready for project updates and the resulting comparison among the different Gantt chart bars. Figure 7 displays an updated project. Note that the yellow baseline bars remain in the same position during the update.
Primavera P6 allows for the viewing of a couple of baselines in addition to the planned or active schedule on the Gantt chart. The secret to viewing them is to assign the schedule and each user baseline to the appropriate Bar Style Row: 1, 2, or 3. Normal convention is for the assignment of the planned or active schedule to row 1 and for the assignment of the primary and secondary baselines to rows 2 and 3. In addition to the Gantt chart, numerous display data on the activity table are available for the schedule and primary baseline.