CPM Schedule Comparison Reports

All efforts spent developing a baseline schedule can be wasted unless progress is monitored and changes to work are reflected in periodic schedule updates.  A periodic schedule update consists of two distinct processes, first updating for achieved progress and second incorporating changes to work and their impact to critical and near critical paths.  Changes must be evaluated separately and consistently to allow project stakeholders the opportunity to mitigate impacts of change.  Failure to implement change management as a separate process often reduces the effectiveness of the schedule as a real-time management tool.

Schedulers and delay analysts should create a schedule comparison report with every change and schedule update.  The comparison report is created as part of the routine monthly report and serves multiple purposes.  It serves to document the basis of the delay analysis as well as being a full auditable record of the project schedule.  This schedule comparison report also should be created for each impacted version of a schedule to serve as the full record and audit trail of multiple layers of time impact analysis (TIA).  This is important because it documents the incremental impact of each layered change or disruption to the project.

Traditional schedule comparison tools compare every field and produce a lengthy report.   Most often these comparison reports are difficult to use without clean up and reformatting.  The schedule review and documentation of the changes require a streamlined approach.  For example duration changes and description changes should be summarized in one report because both a description and original duration change may indicate an activity scope change.  It is important to see the added activities with their duration and float values on one report.  There should be composite reports to show every change to each activity.  Change Inspector software provides the schedule comparison results in a series of comprehensive and organized reports.  It works with Primavera (XER) files and Microsoft MPP files.

P6 – Page Breaks

P6 has the option to insert page breaks after each grouping. To use this feature, “Break Page Every Group” needs to be selected in Page Setup Options tab.

If there are multiple layers of grouping like shown below, the first grouping will be used for page breaks.

The first grouping, in this case WBS, will be used for page breaks.  If the “Page Break Every Group” is disabled. it is probably because the indent option is checked in Group & Sort Screen.  If you want to use this feature you must uncheck the indent option in Group & Sort.

P6 Baselines

According to P6 terminology, a baseline schedule is a complete copy of a project plan that can be compared to the current schedule to evaluate progress.  P6 allows an unlimited number of baselines per project, depending upon administrative preference settings.  Unlike P3, P6 baselines do not exist as separate projects that the user can access unless the baseline schedule is restored and detached from primary schedule.  There are 2 types of baselines Project and User Baselines.  As shown in figure below only up to three user baselines and one project baseline can be assigned per project for comparison purposes.

The user can assign primary, secondary, and tertiary baselines.  User baselines are user specific, meaning that another user opening the project will not be able to see the same baseline unless that user also assigns the same baseline.  If a baseline is not selected, the current project is used by default.  This means that planned dates are used as baseline dates.

If another project is defined as the baseline, then the baseline dates are determined by the Earned Value Calculation option under Admin, Admin Preferences, Earned Value tab shown in figure below.

  • If Budgeted values with planned dates is selected, the baseline dates are equal to the Baseline project’s Planned Start and Finish dates.
  • If either At Completion Values with Current Dates or Budgeted Values with Current Dates is selected then the baseline dates are equal to the Baseline project’s Start and Finish dates.

 There are two ways of adding a new baseline shown in figure below.  Save a copy of the current project as a new baseline saves the current state of the open project as a baseline for the project.  When you save a copy of the current project as a new baseline, the baseline title uses the project name and a suffix of – Bx, where x equals 1 for the first baseline you save for a project, 2 for the second, and so on. The baseline name can be changed.

Convert another project to a new baseline of the current project allows the user to select a different project to use as a baseline for the current project. When you choose to convert another project to a baseline, the project you want to convert cannot be open or have baselines assigned to it. The converted project’s name is used as the baseline name.