One of the questions I get most from P3 or MSP users who start using P6 is “What in the world are all these date fields, and what do I do with them?” Here is a brief overview of what the Primavera P6 dates fields are and what functions they perform.
The first thing to understand is P6 has separate dates for activities and resources. The dates you see depends upon the view you are in. If you are in the activity view, you will see activity dates. If you are in the resources window of the activity view or in the resource assignments view, you will see resource assignment dates. These dates can be synced together, so that as one changes so does the other, or managed separately depending on your settings.
There are several fields for start and finish dates. You need to be sure you understand what each one represents and ensure you are reporting and managing the information you intend to. Below are the most used date fields:
- Start/Finish: The current start/finish dates based on schedule logic and resource availability. This is the equivalent of the Early Start/Finish dates in P3.
- Planned Start/Finish: For activities or resources which do not have actual dates, these are equal to the start/finish dates. Once an activity has an actual date, the dates hold at what they were at that point in time. Where this comes in play frequently is your spend plans. If a project has no baseline, or if the settings are to use baseline planned dates, the planned spread (BCWS) is spread using the planned dates, not the current dates.
- Actual Start/Finish: The dates on which an activity or resource actually started or finished. Where actual dates have occurred, the Start/Finish dates are equal to the actual dates. Where there is no Actual Start/Finish, the field is blank.
- Early Start/Finish: The earliest date the remaining work for the activity or resource can start/finish. This causes some confusion among P3 or MSP users who generally consider the early start to be the earliest start for the entire activity, not just the remaining work. The Early dates generally equal the Remaining Early dates unless you have leveled the project maintaining the early dates. For completed activities, the calculation is still run based on the schedule logic, but the dates do not reflect the actual dates and can cause confusion when reported on a schedule.
- Late Start/Finish: The latest date the remaining work for the activity or resource can start/finish with impacting project completion. The Late dates generally equals the Remaining Late dates unless you have leveled the project maintaining the late dates. For completed activities, the calculation is still run based on the schedule logic, but the dates do not reflect the actual dates and can cause confusion when reported on a schedule.
- Remaining Early Start/Finish: The earliest possible dates the remaining work can occur based on logic and resource constraints. These will generally equal the Early dates, unless you have leveled the project maintaining the early dates. When the activity is complete, remaining dates are blank.
- Remaining Late Start/Finish: The latest possible dates the remaining work can occur before impacting project completion. These will generally equal the Late dates, unless you have leveled the project maintaining the late dates When the activity is complete, remaining dates are blank.
- BL Project Start/Finish: The current start and finish for the activity in the assigned project baseline.
- BL1, BL2, BL3 Start/Finish: The current dates for the assigned primary, secondary and tertiary user baselines.