Update Baseline Feature in Primavera P6 Use or Not

In today’s post, I want to talk about the Primavera P6 Update Baseline feature. Are you using it right? Should you be using it at all? I want to dive into that and talk about Project Change Management while we talk about the P6 Update Baseline feature. 

What is the Problem with Update Baseline?

Okay. So number one Update Baseline; If you’ve done any digging, you know it’s fraught with errors and bugs.

It has all sorts of problems trying to get Update Baseline to properly copy Activities between the Current Schedule and the Baseline Schedule. But I’m not here to talk about that; I’m here to talk about whether you should be using it at all!

In fact, I think a lot of people are trying to use Update Baseline when they shouldn’t be using it at all.

Let me talk about Schedule Change Management for a minute. In the video below I walk you through it visually. Let’s see where the progress in our Schedule; We took the time to make a great baseline schedule – at the onset, we called it B1. And now as we go through, we’re doing our Update Schedule so we’re always comparing it to B1.

We’ve got our Update, U2, U3. Now, once we get a month five, something happens – and, you know, this always happens probably in month five, or even earlier, a Change Request comes through from the owner, maybe the contractor, whatever. We have a Change Request to deal with on this Schedule. Now, what happens is we take the current progress schedule and we put in the new scope or the changes.

Maybe we’re removing scope whatever it is, we are changing non-actualized, Not Started activities, things on the right side of the data date. We’re making a new version I call it CR Schedule 1 here. I just called it Update Schedule 5 + Change Request 1 (U5 + CR1). Now to move forward after getting this Change Request approved, we need to have our Baseline represent the new work.

This is what I see people doing. We now want to have B1 include CR1 – all Activities, the new scope, and we’re copying those Change Request Activities using the P6 Update Baseline feature. We can use the P6 Update Baseline feature to do that. First, we pick our Baseline, we might have new Activities in the current schedule and we tell P6 to automatically copy new things from the current schedule and put them into the Baseline.

The Correct Change Management Process

But here’s the rub. This is wrong. Don’t do this. This is not the right Change Management process you should be following at all. Now I will tell you how to apply the Change Requests following proper change management procedures related to processing change requests. Baseline 1 is completely locked – I don’t touch B1. In fact, all baselines once they are approved, are locked.

You should not open them to edit them or make changes. They are approved. They’re locked. No editing, no changing. So what should we be doing instead?

What we should be making is Baseline 2, and B2 is actually a copy of our current progress schedule Update 5 (U5) with the change request information, the new scope added into it, we should actually be making a new baseline in P6.

Now, this we’re not comfortable with because my new Baseline will have Actuals in it and a lot of us are not comfortable with that. Or we prefer to keep looking at the same Baseline we’ve been looking at.

But it should not be that shouldn’t be that way. That one is locked in. We don’t go back. We make a new baseline and it’s just as simple as taking the current Baseline Schedule and creating a new baseline.

Just add a new baseline, making a copy of the current baseline schedule and adding that into your baseline list. You can see in the video above a sample of this. “Update B with CR1 changes” is in my Baseline List. I set that as my new baseline and I move forward with Update 6 (U6). U6 is now comparing to B2 and we move forward that way.

This is the process you should be following. In fact, there’s some nuances to this, especially if it takes a couple of months for that Change Request to get approved. And this is something I show you and talk about in my latest course Advanced P6 Progressing on-demand.

In this course, I dive directly into this content and teach you the steps that you need to know to do proper Change Management and we practice with real schedules.

Using the Update Baseline Feature

Now Update Baseline when do I use it? When should I use it? To be honest, I have not had to use it. I would love to hear from you if you have a great use of Update Baseline. I have seen it used by Ron Winter for doing half step scheduling, but other than that user case, I’m struggling to find a really good reason to use Update Baseline. Again, if you have a really good use case, let me know in the comments below.


Michael is an avid project controls blogger and is the Chief Learning Officer here at Plan Academy. Michael has taught 1000s professionals how to use project controls software like Primavera P6 over the past 10 years through his online courses and tutorials. Michael is a member of AACE, the Guild of Project Controls and holds his PMP certification from PMI.