Using interim plans

You can use the baseline in different ways. You can refer to it as your original estimate and compare it with actual results at the end of the project to see how well you guessed, and to learn to make better guesses on future projects. But the baseline also has an important practical use during the project: It alerts you to shifts so that you can make changes to accommodate them. The second use may prompt you to save interim plans.

The initial baseline(s) may quickly take on more historical rather than practical interest. You should not change the initial baseline(s) because that record of your original planning process is important to retain. However, if timing shifts dramatically away from the baseline plan, all the little warning signs that Project gives you about being off schedule become useless. A project that starts six months later than expected will show every task as late and every task as critical. To continue generating useful project information, you need to revise the schedule to better reflect reality. Only by saving interim plans can you see how well you're meeting your revised goals.

Note Remember that interim plans contain a set of task start and finish dates that you can compare with another interim plan or with a baseline plan, thus helping you to keep an eye on progress or slippage. A baseline includes much more information — duration, start and finish dates, work, and cost information about tasks, resources, and assignments. Saving baselines and interim plans helps you to compare current information, found in the start and finish fields, with baseline information, found in the baseline fields.

You can set interim plans for all the tasks in the project. However, you should usually save an interim plan only for tasks going forward. For example, if a labor strike pushes out a manufacturing project by two months, you should keep the baseline intact for all the tasks that were completed at the time the strike started and save an interim plan for all the tasks that must still be performed when the strike ends.

Note You also can use interim plans to copy baseline information from one baseline to *""""' another.

You can save an interim plan by following these steps:

1. Select various tasks to include in the interim plan.

2. Choose Tools O Tracking O Save Baseline to open the Save Baseline dialog box.

3. Select the Save interim plan option button. Project makes the Copy and Into fields available.

4. Click the arrow to the right of the Copy field to display the drop-down list. Figure 11-6 shows that I've opened the Into list, which contains the same choices that you'll find in the Copy list.

Figure 11-6: The choices in the Copy and Into lists enable you to save several sets of start and finish dates in interim plans.

5. Select Start/Finish from the Copy drop-down list to copy the current start and finish dates.

6. Open the drop-down list for the Into field and select a numbered item, such as Start1/Finish1, to copy the dates into new fields, thus creating an interim plan.

7. Select the Entire project option button to create an interim plan for the whole project, or choose the Selected tasks option button to create an interim plan that retains the original baseline information for any tasks that you didn't select, yet saves new baseline information for the tasks that you have selected.

8. Click OK to save the interim baseline plan.

Remember that you can use the various numbered Start/Finish items to save up to 10 interim plans plus the original, for a total of 11 interim plans over the life of your project.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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