You know that setting a baseline is important for tracking and reporting. It is equally important to enter each tasks Actual Start and Finish dates, particularly if different than the Baseline dates.

In the figure below I have modified a table to show the Baseline, Actual and current Start and Finish dates. The Baseline has been set but Actual dates have not been entered.

Do's and Don'ts: Use Actual Start and Finish Dates

At this point entering any percentage of schedule or work completion will copy the current Start date to the Actual Start. The assumption is that if an Actual Start was not entered the task started on schedule. See the figure below.

Do's and Don'ts: Use Actual Start and Finish Dates

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Since tasks can be started earlier or later than planned the Actual Start must be entered to model reality. The next figure illustrates the task starting a few days later than planned.

Do's and Don'ts: Use Actual Start and Finish Dates

Notice that the Baseline and Actual dates enable the comparison of the planned schedule to what really occurred.

Do enter Actual Start and Finish Dates along with a set Baseline. Model reality for accurate tracking and reporting!

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