Introducing baselines for project management, available now!

Morgan Kozol
Morgan Kozol Employee
edited 08/02/21 in Product Announcements

Hi Community, 

We are excited to announce the launch of baselines - a fixed reference point in time to measure and compare a project’s progress to completion. Capturing and comparing variances between the current actual schedule and the originally planned schedule is essential for tracking any deviations and allows project teams to quickly reprioritize to get projects back on track and delivered on time.

Licensed sheet owners and admins on Individual, Business, Enterprise and Premier Plans can create and edit baselines. 

To get started, it’s quite simple:

  1. Set up a project sheet with tasks that have start and end dates (or use an existing one)
  2. In Gantt view, click the new ‘Baselines’ button in the toolbar
  3. Click the ‘Set’ button in the summary modal to set the baseline  
  4. That’s it! 

Three new non-editable columns automatically get added to your sheet: Baseline Start, Baseline Finish and Variance. You’ll see the baseline visualized as a thin grey line underneath the Gantt bars.

Users with the correct permissions mentioned above can toggle the baseline on/off, reset, and remove the baseline in the summary modal via clicking the ‘Baselines’ button again in the toolbar.  

As dates shift around, the Variance in the summary modal will give you a quick visual snapshot of overall project status displayed as Days behind, Days ahead, or On schedule. 

Read our help article for more information and get started with our updated setup dashboard for Project Tracking & Rollup template set.


Cheers,

Morgan


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Comments

  • youngdonkey
    youngdonkey ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 05/06/21

    @Morgan Smuck Is there a way to get the baseline information onto a dashboard easily?

  • Andrée Starå
    Andrée Starå ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @youngdonkey

    I hope you're well and safe!

    You can add the Baseline Columns to a report and show that in the Dashboard.

    Would that work/help?

    I hope that helps!

    Be safe and have a fantastic day!

    Best,

    Andrée Starå | Workflow Consultant / CEO @ WORK BOLD

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  • Hi,

    great to finally see this functionality. However, when testing how this works with existing plans, toggling baselines on/off does not return the baseline and variance colums to non-editable status. Variance is no longer calculated when actual start end dates change.

    Has anyone else found this? Is this user-error? If so, can someone please advise on how to toggle baselines on/off properly.

    Thanks

  • Nick Burrus
    Nick Burrus ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    The documentation is missing a few things.


    Are the fields/columns:


    "Actual End Date" and "Baseline End Date" required? We currently use Actual End Date, and Target End Date for example.

    St Nicholas Burrus MBA, MAOL, GARA, PMP PhD Doctoral Candidate

    I build Smartsheets for the US Government, State Government, and about a dozen of the US Fortune 100s.

  • Michael W.
    Michael W. ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for putting this new feature out there, Smartsheet team!


    For example, if the Baseline date was 5/20/21 and "Actual" [Planned] date was changed to 5/15/20, per Smartsheet logic the variance is 5 days, whereas in reality it should be 5 days less than Baseline which should be shown as -5 days. It should be the variance from the Baseline and not variance of the Baseline

    Hard agree. Thanks SK. Good feedback.

  • Hi all,

    This is certainly a great piece of new functionality and the timing was perfect. I've now been able to baseline all my workstream plans, just as we finished the detailed planning phase of our integration, so many thanks smartsheet!

    Just one comment. I've noticed that when the baselined plan has new tasks and/or milestones added (post baselining), smartsheet doesn't add these new tasks/milestones to the existing baseline, so if these new tasks/milestones slip, they do not register on my baseline variance report. I could reset the entire baseline to capture these new items, but I’ll then loose the existing variances to baseline. 

    Is there any functionality to get these new tasks/milestones added to the existing baseline?

  • Sameer Karkhanis
    Sameer Karkhanis ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Good point @Russell Baines

    Feature Request:

    1. Assigning selected tasks to an existing baseline
    2. Support for multiple baselines
  • I don see how to display actual start date with baseline in reports and dashboard. Is it possible?

  • paulcampbell
    paulcampbell ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi all - calling any project managers already working with baselined plans BEFORE the new feature launch.

    As some of you may already be aware, if you are a project manager working with legacy plans that already track baselines using baseline start/ end columns, formulas, reports, dashboards of their own design in advance of this new built-in functionality, you will not be able to convert your legacy baselined plans into the new inherent baseline functionality.

    I am working with the Customer Success team to attempt to identify workarounds for now (in the hope that this option is provided by the dev team later).

    Have you been working on this too? Any workarounds you have identified so far?

    Would be great to all share here. I will also post again later with any outputs of the work I am doing on this.

    Thanks all!

  • Hi. This is good news. I'm quite new to Smartsheet, so forgive me my lack of expertise. I have existing project plans set up with start and finish dates, but the Baseline button is greyed out. Any ideas why this would be? TIA. Emma

  • Sameer Karkhanis
    Sameer Karkhanis ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I saw a webinar email come through Smartsheet for Baselines. Hope someone in Smartsheet team is reading through this thread as the baseline variance logic implemented is incorrect.

    @Stephanie Boulanger @Madyson Morris @Morgan Smuck

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Employee Admin

    Thanks for tagging me, @SK. I'll be sure this gets flagged with our product team.

  • Hi @Emma Harris , thank you for reaching out! The Baselines button will only be clickable in while in Gantt view to licensed sheet owners and admins. Let me know if that solves it, thanks!

  • @Russell Baines happy to hear you like the functionality! At this time, once a baseline has been set, new rows/tasks will not be included in the baseline. If you want to include them, you will have to reset the baseline. Thanks for providing us this feedback, I will pass it directly to the product team.