“It’s like a time machine.” This was one of the more colorful descriptions heard around the LiquidPlanner offices about our Baseline release. Which makes sense, since part of what Baseline does is let teams look back in time so they can better understand the details of their project’s progress.
We introduced our new feature in yesterday’s post, June 2013 Release: Meet Our New Baseline and Retrospective Views. Today, we’ll focus on the Baseline view and show you how to jump into the time machine: snapping a manual baseline, and creating a baseline comparison using a manual or automatic snapshot.
To get started, go the Projects tab, and then select the Baseline view. Click on the blue Baseline date in the header row to open the baseline dialog:
Snapping a manual baseline
Let’s say you’re starting a six-month project and you just got client sign-off on the scope. You want to take a Before snapshot so that you’ll be able to compare the status of your plan at this exact moment to its status at some point in the future.
When snapping a manual baseline, you can ignore the calendar. Just click the plus (+) icon, give your baseline a name, and then click the Snap Now button to capture all your project info for this exact moment in time.
That’s it! Your manual baseline is saved to the list of Named Baselines, with a date and time stamp. Now, you have a precise snapshot of your new project that you can use as a benchmark for the future status of the project.
Viewing a baseline comparison
Let’s assume now that you’re well into a project, and your client wants to see how well you’re doing against the original plan. If you had snapped a manual baseline when the original plan was set, you simply select that manual baseline from the Named Baselines list and click Compare.
But let’s say that you forgot to snap a manual baseline. No problem, just use the automatic baseline snapshot that LiquidPlanner takes for you once a day. To start, click on the calendar date of when your original plan was finalized.
While you’re here, you can make it more convenient to select this automatic baseline in the future by adding it to your Named Baselines list. This is like creating a favorite, or bookmark, for that automatic baseline. After selecting the date, click the button that says “Add selected date to the list”, then give it a name and click OK.
Now that automatic baseline appears on your Named Baseline list for easier access in the future. To generate the baseline comparison right away, click the Compare button.
Evaluate your progress
Between the plan columns and the baseline schedule bars, you get some fast information about the progress of your project since the baseline date. Remember that there are several columns that you can expose to view the baselines metrics that are most important to you.
Here are some facts that you can see at-a-glance in the project baseline comparison above:
- Our Remaining Effort has decreased.
- Our Total Expected Effort has decreased as well. It looks like we reduced the project scope by 5.81 days since the baseline date.
- The number of hours logged as of the current date is greater than the number logged as of the baseline date. That’s good, but…..
- Our Project’s Expected Finish has pushed out. Since we haven’t increased the scope of our project, that can only mean that we haven’t logged enough hours to keep the project on pace with the baseline date projection.
- We actually moved the Deadline Date out.
From here, you want to dig into the reason why progress is not being made, and that information is at the task level. Look for tasks with little or no progress logged. Although the project’s net scope decreased, are there any tasks that actually had a significant increase in effort, causing the rest of that resource’s work to push out?
Sometimes the straight numbers don’t tell the whole story. Is there an unsatisfied dependency somewhere that is holding up work? Don’t forget that you can also look into the notes and commenting history of suspicious tasks for clues.
The Baselines View is your time machine to the past, and you as the intrepid time traveler can use the information you find there to identify strengths and weaknesses in your project’s performance. Don’t forget to take what you learn back to the future and apply it toward the success of your future projects!