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Microsoft Project 2007: The Missing Manual by Bonnie Biafore

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Preserving the Original Plan in Project

After stakeholders approve a project plan, they expect the project to follow that plan. If it doesn't, the stakeholders expect an explanation of the difference between planned and actual performance (called variance). The difference between planned and actual performance is the key to managing these stakeholder expectations. Variance is the foundation to a variety of project performance measures (Gauging Performance with Earned Value Measures) like earned value analysis and the schedule performance index. To calculate variance, you must save the original values in your Project schedule.

As you've seen in previous chapters, Project constantly updates fields like dates, duration, work, and cost as you make changes. For example, if you increase the work hours for a task, Project recalculates the duration and the finish date for the task. When you begin to track progress, Project continues these recalculations; for example, as a delayed predecessor task delays the start dates for its successors.

Fortunately, Project has no problem keeping track of both your original plan and the current one. Project stores the original plan in a baseline, which is a snapshot of schedule and cost information. At the same time, the schedule you see every time you open Project is the current plan, which shows the schedule and cost based on any revision you've made as well as the effects of actual performance. Project uses baseline values and current values to calculate ...

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