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What is the point of Planned Start and Planned Finish

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Andrew Levitt
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For me the Planned Start and Planned Finish fields (and Original Duration) are nothing but a nuisance. I have to constantly run a global change to overwrite them with the Start and Finish fields in order to use Apply Actuals or Update Progress without mucking up any changes I’ve made. I understand how to avoid making my life difficult with these fields, but I don’t understand how to make my life easier: what’s the point of having them? I have a baseline to compare the current schedule against, so why have this intermediate fake baseline? And even if it were a good idea to have an intermediate baseline, WHY ON EARTH DOES IT OVERWRITE MY SCHEDULE WHEN I RUN APPLY ACTUALS? Primavera is written by a great team so I’m sure they had something in mind...

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Zoltan Palffy
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Bilal

creat a new post do not glam on to someone elses thread

Bilal Ashraf
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Hi,

I am a beginner in P6, Can somebody please help me for a problem that, I have imported XER file and i want to change BL Finish date for the whole project, I have reduced the durations for each activity and BL Start Finish Dates but BL Finish date for the entire project remains the same, why is that happening ? Is there any constraint I am facing ?

Please help me

Anoon Iimos
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Andrew,

When I was 12 or 13 years old, I’m doing manual labor (making CHB manually), so I would say that my background is construction. Until now, I never really give a d**n about how this software/programs work (I’m not a teacher, I’m a construction worker), I just need a Construction Plan.

And I would like to reiterate that for me, Auto-compute Actuals or Update Progress Automatically, are only applicable (or only good) for Baseline or Target Schedules (If I am wrong or you got different opinion, so be it, I respect it).

Please don’t forget to inform me if you found later (proven and tested) whether or not I’m right.

cheers
Andrew Levitt
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Anoon:

Looks like you keep your baseline in a separate project, which is great but by no means universal. You can also keep a baseline within a project itself in the BL fields. In which case it doesn’t make sense to talk about a baseline’s Planned dates, nor does it make sense to talked about updating the baseline. Which I’m curious about--why would you perform auto compute actuals on a baseline? I use auto compute actuals so that I can move the Data Date without having to manual recompute the percent complete on every activity; instead I just make sure the finish date is correct, run a global change so the Planned Dates don’t screw everything up, and then run Auto Compute Actuals to move the Data Date.

Andrew
Raviraj Bhedase
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David,

If u r having actual dates, in ur baseline program, and if u select planned dates for earned value calculation, then it may show wrong dates.

Go to Admin --> Admin preferences and then go to Earned Value Tab. At the bottom, u can find option for calculating earned value from baseline use:

- Budgeted value with planned dates
- Current Dates
- XXX (Check)

U need to select current date option, if u hav actual dates in ur program or the other option is to run Global Change.

Cheers,

Rav
Anoon Iimos
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Armando,

I believe that you mixed up the "Planned Dates" of your Baseline and your Current Schedules. I suggest that you treat the schedules (baseline vs. current) separately. Planned Dates for Baseline (early and late) are different from Planned Dates (early and late) of your working or current schedule (assuming that you had already made updates), so the remaining values might be different.

David,

What do you mean? A Baseline Plan that has actuals? And you schedule the remaining works as your Current?

I believe that "auto compute actuals" works only for Baselines (which are not really actuals but planned actuals). So why use it in your Current or working schedule?

cheers

p.s. Ravi, I never said that "Planned Dates" are not required in P6. (maybe before when I was still trying to learn) but as I go mature (i hope i did), I believe it is.
David Kelly
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Couple of extra "gotchas" that Planned Start and Finish have in store for the unwary. Over and above Paul Hariis’s list:

When you use a baseline its the Planned Start and Finish from the baseline plan that are the dates primavera uses. Now this is fine if the Baseline was taken before there was any progress, or has never been updated, but there are issues if you need Actual dates from the baseline.


Auto Compute Actuals works on Planned dates for expenses and (I think) resources.


Raviraj Bhedase
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Paul and Anoon, both have said it correctly and certainly it is not at all required in P6. It will be helpful, only if u need to update few selected activities.

It will be useful only if u can provide planned start and planned finish dates for say, a group of activities and then go to Tools --> Update Progress and their u have an option wherein u can update only selected activities.

Or otherwise Planned dates are not at all required in P6.

Similarly, as asked in previous thread, we dont require Anticipated Start and Anticipated Finsih dates. We can have anticipated bars only in WBS view and not in Activity chart. If v are not certain of few WBS Elements, then we can have anticipated dates in WBS form but cannot be displayed in activity chart. So, whats d fun of having these type of dates??
Mark Chapman
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Well done Andrew. I totally agree with you. Please add me to back up your claims of aggrieved users. Don’t I hate it when the planned finish overwrites my actuals.
Anoon Iimos
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Andrew,

I agree, Baseline Schedules are supposed to be frozen (with regards to dates). When I say Current Schedule - this is supposed to be your working schedule which is dynamic, has early and late dates, and yes (what I believe) has Planned Dates (which is supposed to be your forecast dates). I’m only talking for myself by the way, I’m not really sure if it is how the program was designed for (anyway I believe that you solicit my opinion).

Apply Actuals or Update Progress Automatically (or using progress spotlight) - to be honest, I only use it in my Baseline Schedule (to reflect the forecast progress as originally planned at a certain time). I never use it in the Current Schedule. Why? in my experience, I never encountered a schedule that really happened as planned.

So in principle, the point of "Planned Dates" is self explanatory (why you need a Plan?). But how it functions in the program (software) is I guess will depend on the user.

cheers
Andrew Levitt
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Anoon:

I couldn’t understand your post, but I’m hoping that you know something about the usefulness of the Planned Dates that I might be missing. First of all when you say Current Schedule do you mean Early Start/Finish? And when you say Baseline Schedule I think it’s fair to assume you mean BL Start/BL Finish or some other frozen baseline somewhere.

So how do the Planned Start/Planned Finish come into play for you? These are not frozen like the baseline, nor are they dynamic like the Early schedule. And do you use Apply Actuals or Update Progress? Don’t you find it irritating that those tools overwrite your Actual Start/Actual Finish with whatever values happen to be in the Planned Start/Planned Finish fields? I mean the last thing *I* would ever think to do is overwrite actuals with anything even remotely like a baseline, otherwise at the end it looks like everything happened according to the original baseline plan and you can’t derive any lessons learned or come up with more accurate estimates.

Thanks for any comments.

Andrew
Anoon Iimos
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On the contrary, i don’t really think that "Planned Dates" is a disaster. I believe this separates the Baseline and the Current Schedules. So if it happens that you don’t understand what’s the difference between a Baseline and a Current Schedule, i believe there is a Paul Harris that is willing to teach.
armando moriles
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Paul,


I apologize in my previous question as I forgot to restore my baseline that’s why the budgeted and baseline curves in the activity usage profile becomes equal.

As I restored my baseline, the budgeted is almost the same with the remaining but still the completion date is beyond the baseline date which means that the budgeted curve is still not the baseline late curve even if i already replaced the planned finish date with the baseline late date. I’m still hoping and looking forward in knowing the solution or way how to show the baseline early and late curves in the activity usage profile. Is there?

Thanks,

Arman
armando moriles
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Hi Paul,

MY QUEST FOR THE EARLY AND LATE CURVES IN THE ACTIVITY USAGE PROFILE...

I exported to excel my working programme planned dates and my baseline late dates. Then I replaced my working programme planned dates with the baseline late dates. After that, I imported my working programme back.

When I checked my working programme activity usage profile, I was surprised because the budgeted and baseline curves becomes equal.

I was really expecting that the budgeted curve would become my baseline late curve.

It appeared to me that the baseline in the activity usage profile is actually a late curve and not early.

Any help will be highly appreciated...

Thanks,

Arman



Andrew Levitt
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Paul,

I couldn’t agree with you more, it is critical to understand the behavior of the Planned dates. If anyone needs any help understanding the behavior of the Planned dates beyond what Paul has outlined in his post, there is an excellent explanation with illustrations and exercises in the best Primavera reference book around, Project Planning and Control, by the very same Paul Harris.

So I haven’t heard any posts saying how those Planned dates can be useful, so I’m going to go ahead and say that they are a botched attempt at getting people who don’t save baselines to have some sort of quasi-baseline anyway, and that the behavior with respect to Apply Actuals and Update Progress resulted either from bad judgment on the part of a product developer or some sort of horrible miscommunication. The workaround is to run a Global Change every single time you use Apply Actuals or Update Progress.

Now that my curiosity is piqued I’m going to try to track down the Primavera product guys and see what they have to say.

Andrew
Paul Harris
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I agree the “Planned Dates” are a disaster.

Most people do not even know that these dates even exist net alone where how they are calculated or how they are used or when! The Primavera documentation does not give a clear indication of what they do or how they calculate.

They are very complex but basically:
1. When an activity is complete or in progress they are set to equal to the last update, say similar to the last periods status.
2. When an activity is unstarted they are set to the early start and early finish. There is a whole page of documentation in my book on how they calculate but it is all a bit academic as any normal scheduler would never want to display them or any data that is associated with them.

I have found the Planned Dates are used in:

1. Progress Spotlight, so one does not get the expected result as one would with P3, SureTrak or MPS with update progress. You will find that Actual dates are changed for you to the Planned Dates without telling you! To overcome this problem you may run a Global Change to set them equal to the Start and Finish dates first.
2. When a Baseline has not been assigned they are used to display a Project or User Primary Baseline bar. This is because the Planned dates are represented as bars when the is selected in the Assign Baselines form.. This opens up a raft of issues with multiple users using the same Layout. Thus when one user assigns a Primary User Baseline and a second user applies this layout but they have not assigned a User Baseline the "Planned Dates" are used as a Baseline.
3. They are also used in the Activity Usage Profile to show the Budgeted values (term confusion again) and as the Baseline values when no baseline has been set. Once a Baseline has been set they use the Baseline dates.
4. They are also used in the Activity Usage Profile to show the Earned Values curves when no Baseline has been set. Once a Baseline has been set they use the Baseline values to display the Earned Values curves.

So in summary Planned Dates do not always display Planned information. They are used to display Budgeted and Current information as well. An unfortunately if you have not set a Baseline then the Planned dates will be used to display data you probably do not want displayed.

You have to be very careful with what you do with this software and make sure you have tested all your options before you start using it, so you are sure it is displaying what you think it should. It is a high risk software as things are not always what they seem to be or what they are called by the software. I am looking forward to some meaty legal cases with some mix ups that will eventuate from a misunderstanding on how the software works.

I would prefer the Planned dates to be removed from the system all together and data such as Baseline Bars and Curves should not display any data if a baseline has not been set. I would go even further to say that I would also like Budgeted values to be removed from the Current Schedule resource assignments (which is not always the Current Schedule as the Current Schedule baseline is actually the Planned dates) and only exist in a Baseline and thus remove another source of confusion which appears to have been inherited from P3.

I am glad I have retired from scheduling and now spend most of my time trying to teach people how to use this software.

Paul E Harris
Eastwood Harris Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia
Planning and Scheduling Training Manual & Book Publishers, Consulting and Training
www.eh.com.au
Anoon Iimos
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Andrew,

I guess the problem will come in when you do the automatic updating (apply actuals / update progress automatically) which I believe that you should never do it in your Current/Updated Schedule (you can only use it in your Baseline Schedule - to see if where you’re supposed to be at a certain time).

Of course Planned Dates are relevant, especially when you do the comparison.

You did not specify whether the Planned Dates you’re referring to are Early or Late by the way..?
Andrew Levitt
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Ronald:

You’re right that the Planned dates for unstarted activities are the same as the dates used for Gantt bars, but I would argue that the Gantt bars are based on the Start/Finish pair rather than the Planned’s.

When an activity is In Progress or Complete then the Planned dates no longer impact the Gantt chart nor the Start/Finish pair--the Gantt shows the Start, and the Start is reflective of the Actual Start Date. The Gantt also shows the Finish, which for an In Progress activity is the Early Finish, and for Complete activities is the Actual Finish.

For both In Progress and Complete activities the Planned dates are essentially no longer relevant, except (for me) for the hateful fact that Apply Actuals and Update Progress will overwrite the Actuals or even change the Rem. Duration in order to match the Start/Finish to the Planned’s.

Which brings me back to my question--what’s the point of the Planned’s?
Ronald Winter
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Andrew, you have asked a better question than you know. The purpose for Planned Dates? Why to drive the placement of the bars in the Gantt Chart, of course! Every time you look at the bars, you are seeing what the planned dates say.

Try changing the planned dates and watch the Early Start/Finish columns stay the same while the Start and Finish columns change and the bar moves to the new Planned Dates. Change the Start/Finish date and the Planned dates and the bars do not change.

Don’t you just love how good Primavera explains all of this? Good question!
Anoon Iimos
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I believe Planned Start, Planned Finish, and Original Duration are only intended for Baseline Schedules.

Omar Grant
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Hi Andrew - I think the Planned/Finish dates are a bit like an ’expected’ start/finish and the Help says it allows the ’Project Manager’ to manually put schedule dates in!! How dangerous is that!

cheers,

Omar