Managing Project Timelines with Schedule Baselines

Modified on Tue, 25 Jun at 3:05 PM

Every project has a planned start and end date, with tasks, phases, and milestones along the way. It isn't uncommon for a project to experience shifts in this timeline due to unanticipated delays and accelerations. As a project manager, tracking the performance and deliverables of a project at any given time is crucial. 

The Schedule Baseline feature allows project managers to track how far off schedule the project has shifted by providing a comparison between the baseline dates of tasks and their actual dates after any adjustments. 

The Importance of Baselines 

A baseline is a fixed reference point that represents the initial plan for your project. Establishing a baseline is crucial because it allows project managers to: 

  • Measure Performance: Compare planned progress against actual progress to identify any deviations.

  • Manage Changes: Implement corrective actions when there are significant deviations from the plan.

  • Communicate Effectively: Provide stakeholders with a clear picture of the project's status and any changes that have occurred. 

Baselining should occur at the beginning of the project, once the initial planning phase is complete and the schedule is approved. Additionally, it is advisable to rebaseline the project at major milestones or after significant changes in scope, timeline, or resources. This ensures that the baseline remains relevant and continues to provide accurate comparisons for project performance evaluation. 

Setting the Initial Baseline

Once your schedule plan is outlined, lock in the initial baseline by clicking on Baseline. This will set your initial plan as the baseline. Establishing a baseline is crucial because it serves as a reference point against which all future progress and changes are measured. A well-defined baseline allows project managers to identify deviations from the original plan, making it easier to implement corrective actions and maintain project control. 

Baseline Options and Usage

As the project progresses, individual tasks or the entire schedule may need to be rebaselined due to changes in scope, delays, or shifts in priority. This can be done at various levels within a task's hierarchy:

  • Task Only: Baseline the specific task. This is useful when a single task's timeline changes without affecting related tasks. 
  • Task and Parents: Baseline the task and its parent tasks. Use this when changes in a task affect its higher-level parent tasks. 
  • Task and Subtasks: Baseline the task and its subtasks. This is helpful when changes in a task impact the tasks that depend on it. 
  • Task, Parents, and Subtasks: Baseline the task, its parents, and its subtasks. This is beneficial for significant changes that impact the entire task hierarchy. 
  • Entire Schedule: Rebaseline the entire project schedule to reflect significant changes that affect the overall timeline. 

How to Baseline Your Schedule

Baseline the Entire Schedule

  1. Navigate to Gantt View: Open your project workspace and click on Edit in Gantt View to open the project schedule. 
  2. Set Baseline: Click on the Baseline button. 
  3. Confirm Changes: You will be prompted to confirm the changes. Click Baseline to set the new baseline for the entire schedule. 

Baseline a specific task

  1. Open the Task Dialog: Double-click on the specific task in the Gantt view to open the task dialog.
  2. Select Baseline: Go to the Tools menu within the task dialog and select Baseline.

  3. Choose Baseline Scope: Select the appropriate scope for the baseline (Task Only; Task and Parents; Task and Subtasks; Task, Parents & Subtasks; Entire Schedule).

  4. Save Changes: Click Baseline to set the new baseline dates.

Viewing Baseline Dates

To see the baseline dates for a specific task, open the task dialog by double-clicking on the task in the Gantt view. The baseline dates are displayed below the current task dates. This allows you to easily compare the planned versus actual dates and understand any shifts that have occurred.

Visual Indicators on the Gantt Chart 

In the Gantt view, baselined tasks are visually indicated by dotted lines.

In the case of milestones, milestone's baseline dates are represented by a diamond:

  • Red Dotted Line: Indicates that the milestone is / was delayed compared to its baseline date. 
  • Blue Dotted Line: Indicates that the milestone is / was ahead of schedule compared to its baseline date. 

Hover over the dotted line to see the baseline date and understand how much the task has moved forward or backward. 

Ongoing Monitoring and Adjustments 

As the project progresses, you may need to re-plan or reprioritise certain tasks to keep the project on track. Regularly updating the baseline when these changes occur helps maintain an accurate picture of the project’s status and aids in effective decision-making. This ongoing adjustment helps maintain an accurate project timeline and ensures that any deviations are promptly addressed. 

By comparing the baseline dates to the actual dates, project managers can effectively track the performance of the project throughout its lifecycle. This comparison helps in accurately forecasting future projects and setting realistic timelines. 


Understanding and using baselines effectively is a fundamental aspect of project management. By setting, monitoring, and adjusting baselines, project managers can ensure that their projects stay on track, meet deadlines, and achieve their objectives.

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