Project Management

Highlight missing baselines in Project 2010

Learn how to apply a custom filter to highlight the tasks missing baseline data in Microsoft Project 2010.

In my post on baseline bashfulness, I identified several ways project managers can overcome their reluctance to baseline their project schedules. As a project progresses, new tasks may be added, or only sections of the project schedule will have a baseline depending on the project's use of rolling planning and detailed task definition. I've been in numerous status meetings where tasks' due dates are missed because the project manager forgot to baseline specific sections of the project schedule. In this tutorial, I show how easy it is to apply a custom filter to highlight the tasks missing baseline data in Microsoft Project 2010.

In Microsoft Project 2007, highlighting tasks using a filter was difficult to find and implement; you had to access the More Filters list and select the Highlight button rather than just select the Apply button (Figure A). Figure A

In previous versions of Microsoft Project, you could add the Baseline Finish date and filter on the missing baseline data as needed. In Project 2010, Microsoft makes it much simpler to highlight and filter data using the Ribbon interface. Follow these steps to highlight the missing baseline data in Microsoft Project 2010.

Step 1: Create the custom filter

Creating a custom filter is similar to creating the Behind Schedule filter that I wrote about in April 2010. Click the Highlight combo box in the Data Ribbon and select the New Highlight Filter menu item. The Filter Definition dialog box will appear.

Step 2: Complete the filter definition

Enter Missing Baseline for the filter name and select the Baseline Finish field name from the Field Name combo box. Set the test criteria to equals NA. Ensure the Show In Menu check box is checked. The filter definition should look similar to Figure B. Click Save to close the dialog box. Figure B

Click the image to enlarge.

Step 3: Apply as a highlight filter

In the Data Ribbon section, select Missing Baseline from the drop-down menu (Figure C). Figure C

The result is a highlighted list of tasks that are missing a baseline finish date (Figure D). Figure D

Click the image to enlarge.

The highlight filter identifies the rows based on the defined criteria, all within the project schedule. Using the Group By or Filter functions can be difficult because the preceding or succeeding tasks are removed from the view. The highlight approach maintains the project schedule structure, while highlighting the correct rows.

If you liked my Behind Schedule filter tutorial, the same technique can be applied easily in Project 2010 to identify late tasks. You can create a variety of filters to highlight rows based on defined criteria. For large project schedules, the highlight option is useful because it quickly identifies potential problems while displaying the entire schedule.

Optional step: Filter missing baseline tasks

If you want to display only the tasks that are missing a baseline, the same Missing Baseline filter can be applied using the Filter combo box in the Data Ribbon. Simply select Missing Baseline from the Filter combo box, and the project schedule will display only the tasks that are missing the baseline finish data (Figure E). Figure E

Click the image to enlarge.

Once these tasks are filtered, you can select all the displayed tasks and set the baseline for the selected tasks.

Save these filters

As you play with the different filter options, I encourage you to save these filters into your Global.mpt file so you can apply them to other project schedules. I've developed a small toolkit of filters that I apply on all of my projects and, with Microsoft Project 2010, highlighting and filtering data is even easier.

About

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of How To Use Microsoft Project and Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy. For more project management advice visit http://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com.

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