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Chapter 16. Tracking Work on the Project > Setting the Baseline or Plan

Setting the Baseline or Plan

After you finalize the planning of the project, set aside a copy of the finalized project schedule for future reference. Actually, the final plan is considered final only because it represents the final product of the initial planning effort. The copy you make of the finalized plan is the baseline you use to compare actual performance with planned performance. As work progresses on the project, you might have to modify the plan to respond to changing circumstances or as a result of new information. Resource availability can change, duration estimates can change, and so on. You also begin to record the actual start and finish dates for tasks. If actual dates match the planned dates exactly, you have performed a miracle. In all probability, some tasks will finish late, and other tasks will finish early. As you enter these actual dates, Microsoft Project reschedules successor tasks to reflect the changed circumstances.

The planning stage culminates in a finalized plan, the copy of which is known as the baseline. As the execution stage gets underway, changes and revisions in the plan often are necessary. These changes are added to the computer version of the plan, and Microsoft Project recalculates the schedule to incorporate the revisions. As work on the project progresses, the actual dates and durations of tasks are entered into the computer version of the plan, and Microsoft Project replaces the calculated start and finish dates with the actual dates and recalculates the remaining schedule. Therefore, with the progression of the project, the current schedule is revised by the addition of changes and actual data. You can print reports that show the variances or differences between the planned dates and the actual dates, the planned amount of work and the actual amount of work, and the planned cost and the actual cost.


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