Sunday, October 7, 2007

October 8, 2007 – MS Project Resource Baseline Fix

Creating a baseline for your project is the starting point for tracking your progress. It is your line in the sand against which you measure your success. It may show that the first deliverable is over budget/schedule compared to the baseline but the next one is under. Evaluating the variances and trends allows you to make adjustments throughout the life of the project.

The baseline should remain unaltered throughout the project unless a Change Request is approved to modify it. The temptation is to re-baseline the entire project. Unfortunately doing so overwrites the baseline for all the tasks, eliminating any variances and wiping out your ability to see the trends. Instead, only those tasks associated with the Change Request should be re-baselined.

Microsoft Project historically does not deal well with saving partial baselines. Evidently the idea of a Project Manager only needing to re-baseline certain tasks isn’t logical to them. When I asked Microsoft Support if they intended to fix the problem they referred to it as a “User Perceived Bug” and said it was coded to the specifications.

The Problem:
When a project is baselined, Microsoft moves the values in the Work and Cost (for both Tasks and Resources) to the Baseline Work and Cost fields. Re-baselining the entire project moves the values for all levels (Tasks, Activities, Phases, Resources, etc.) over. Saving the baseline for only selected tasks doesn’t.

MS Project 2002 introduced the option to “roll up baselines” to the summary tasks from the subtasks when baselining selected tasks. That was a huge improvement. They stopped short of doing the same for the Resource totals.

Let’s say that Bill has a total of 100 hours scheduled for two tasks: Write Specification (40 hours) and Create Prototype (60 hours). A Change Request is approved to double the time and those two tasks are re-baselined at 80 and 120 each. In the Resource Usage view, Bill’s baseline totals would still read 100 instead of 200.

The Solution:
Historically I have had to drop the details to Excel, use Subtotals to do the summation and paste it back into the project plan. Not a lot of fun. A friend of mine, Jon Smith (yes, that is his actual name), recently sent me a macro for Project that essentially does the same thing for the Work field without leaving MS Project. I tweaked it to add up the Cost field, too.

If you would like a copy of the macro, drop me an email at

1 comment:

Pratta said...

Hi Thomas. Valuable insight into why partial baselines don't roll -up in MS Project. This is an obvious bug that should be fixed. Hopefully your macro will assist in a work-around.