My Baseline Capture Does Not Match the Data on My Schedule

Written on . By Tracy Mah

The out-of-sync baseline is actually a common issue that you will run into once you get comfortable scheduling and start getting more experience using Oracle’s Primavera P6 software. This was actually one of the first problems I had tackled with a client’s schedule as well – it was daunting to say the least. The size of the schedule alone was overwhelming and my first fear was that any change I would make would corrupt the data. Luckily, best practice has taught me to create copies of the project to configure and test solutions with and also to back-up original data.

Planned Dates vs. Actual Dates

Before you start manually updating progress, all the start and finish dates for your activities are planned based on their relationships with predecessors and successors. Planned dates are calculated in the following ways:

  1. If the activity has not started, they equal the Start and Finish Dates
  2. Once an activity has been marked as started with an Actual Date being inputted, the Planned Dates are disconnected from the Start and Finish and do not change unless you override it manually

If you’re using the “Apply Actuals” feature of P6 to automate progress for chosen activities, you need to understand that P6 will calculate and pull data from your planned dates to determine actual dates – as if your project progressed as planned from the beginning. As mentioned in another article of mine, it will override any manual data you have entered for the activity.

Basically, the point to make here is that Planned Dates are not considered useful as P6 calculates them all for you at the beginning and they typically never match your actual dates. As well, when you mark activities as started and enter an Actual Start Date (the date the activity in reality started on), the Planned Dates get recalculated for other affected activities.

Below, in this sample project, the activity B1010 has been marked started and an Actual Start Date of January 7, 2014 has been selected, as opposed to the Planned Start Date of January 6:

b1

Once the project is scheduled and the data date is moved forward to January 7, you will notice that all the Planned Start Dates have changed:

b2

What is being demonstrated here is the irrelevance of Planned Dates in general because they never match the dates before and after a schedule update takes place. They always move in accordance with the changes and new Data Dates.

How does understanding Planned Dates affect my baselining?

The whole point of capturing a baseline is to create a snapshot of your project for quick comparison to see how it has differentiated from the previous state it was in. What some of you may not know is that P6 will create a baseline solely from the Planned Start and Finish dates unless you configure it to not do this.

When you capture your baseline at a specific point in time with your project and want it to match exactly what you have on the Gantt chart, you’ll find a tonne of slippage between the baseline bar and the activity bars. This happens because the baseline is calculated from the Planned Dates as mentioned above!

Solutions

Some schedulers will utilize “Global Change” before doing the update to specific Planned Dates to equal Start and Finish Dates. There are two issues with the process of using Global Change:

  1. Duration % Complete will calculate differently
  2. Remembering to run Global Change, otherwise your data will be inaccurate

With baselines specifically, you need to be aware that even if you don’t create and assign a baseline, the <Current Project> as the baseline will, by default, always reflect the Planned Dates. Do the following to make sure all future baselines do not reflect Planned Dates:

PPM users

  1. If you have administrator rights, go to the Admin -> Admin Preferences
  2. Go to the Earned Value tab
  3. Change the option under the Earned Value Calculation box to “At Completion values with current dates”

EPPM users

  1. Tell your P6 administrator to change the following settings through the Web Access platform
  2. Go under Administer -> Application Settings
  3. Go to the Earned Value link on the left-side menu
  4. Change the option under the Earned Value Calculation box to “At Completion with current dates”

Once you’ve changed these options successfully, pull up your schedule and try baselining it again. It should now reflect your in-progress schedule as it exactly should. Remember, you should be configuring this in a copy of your project and not in the actual project itself to make sure that you will not be corrupting data.

As always, I welcome readers to contact us or connect with me over social media if you have any questions!

Posted in Global Change, Primavera, Project Management, Scheduling