By using a baseline and tracking, a proposed plan can be recorded and then the changes to this plan in relation to the original can be viewed. Project planning is more than just creating a plan and hoping it stays on track! By monitoring progress against an initial schedule any delays should be apparent before it’s too late to do something about them but this does however rely on the project being updated regularly and honestly!
Creating the Initial Project
The project plan is created by entering tasks, grouping the data into summary sections, inserting dependency links and adding time constraints. If required resources can also be added which allows for overallocation of resources to be viewed.
Setting a Baseline
Once the initial Project plan has been finalised it is time to set the baseline. This records all the details for the tasks such as start and finish time, duration and costs into parallel baseline fields. The figures in these fields do not alter if anything in the project changes. Normally a baseline is saved for the whole project but can be done on selected tasks.
Progress is monitored by changing the information for the fields in the same way as it was when they were first created. The baseline figures are unaffected by these changes. In addition, the tasks can be marked as completed as the project progresses.
There are specific icons available to move tasks forward or backward if necessary.
Viewing the Progress
In the Gantt chart view the progress is seen because the bars are shaded in a darker blue. However, to see the baseline in addition to the normal task bars the view must be altered to the Tracking Gantt View. This shows the baseline as a grey bar and the new timings as blue or red bars. Red denotes critical task and is switched on by default in this view. In this view the bar changes to a darker blue once it is complete.
Gantt Chart View
Tracking Gantt View
Once the Project is Complete
On completion it is good practice to review where the project has gone well and where things have fallen behind schedule. Lessons learnt can then be used to improve project planning for the next project created. This is particularly useful if many of the projects being produced are similar.