There are four steps involved in tracking a project: setting the status date, entering actuals and schedule revisions, rescheduling incomplete work, and resource leveling the remaining schedule. These steps are repeated throughout project execution once a schedule baseline has been established.
Measure Progress Relative to a Schedule Baseline and the Status Date
At the end of planning, once you have a time-feasible and resource-feasible schedule, a baseline should be set. This is done using the Set Baseline dialog on the Project tab. If a schedule has been baselined, the Baseline table in a Task Sheet view will be populated and a Baseline task bar will appear in the Tracking Gantt chart view. Prior to tracking, the current and baseline schedules will be the same. While the current and actual schedules change as we track, the baseline schedule remains constant.
The status date is a reference date through which progress from the start of the project is measured. It is set periodically based on how often project time and cost information is collected. Usually it is weekly, monthly, or quarterly, but, with advances in technology and automation, it could be daily. Changing the Status Date changes progress measure that are dependent upon what is baselined and when the status date is set.
Setting the Status Date
There are two ways to set the status date in Project: in the Project Information dialog and from within the Status Date dialog. Both commands appear on the Project tab in the ribbon and are shown below. If you set the Status Date in one area, it will automatically propagate the other.
Highlight the Status Date Using a Gridline
It is good practice to highlight the status date in the Gantt Chart or Team Planner views. This is done using the Gridlines dialog on the Format tab in either view, as illustrated in the following figures.
Questions to Ask
If you are currently tracking a project, ask yourself these questions:
- Has the baseline schedule been set?
- How often is the status date updated?
- What is the current status date?
If you use different steps in your tracking cycle, please share them in the comments section below.