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Types of Variances: The Different Variance Fields in Microsoft Project

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In our last post, we covered the differences between Favorable and Unfavorable Variances. This post will cover the differences between the various Variance Types in Microsoft Project. The below summarizes the variances, how they’re calculated and where they can be viewed:

Available In Available In Available In
Variance Name Calculated as: Task field? Phase field? Resource field?
Work Variance (Current Work – Baseline Work) Yes Yes Yes
Cost Variance (Current Cost – Baseline Cost) Yes Yes Yes
Duration Variance (Current Duration – Baseline Duration) Yes Yes No
Start Variance (Current Start – Baseline Start) Yes Yes No
Finish Variance (Current Finish – Baseline Finish) Yes Yes No

It’s important to note that variance calculations in Microsoft Project require baseline data. If there is no baseline, there will be no variance.

The two tables that follow illustrate how Microsoft Project automatically generates variances to the baseline based on the application of actual progress information.

Before applying actual progress:

Current Estimate Field content Baseline(original

estimate) field content

Field content Variance(current est.–original est.) Field content
Work 40h Baseline Work 40h Work variance 0h
Actual Work 0h N/A N/A N/A N/A
Remaining Work 40h N/A N/A N/A
Cost $4,000 Baseline cost $4,000 Cost Variance $0
Start 11/5/2013 Baseline Start 11/5/2013 Start Variance 0d
Finish 11/8/2013 Baseline Finish 11/8/2013 Finish Variance 0d
Duration 4d Baseline Duration 4d Duration Variation 0d

After applying actual progress:

Current Estimate Field content Baseline(original

estimate) field content

Field content Variance(current est.–original est.) Field content
Work 56h Baseline Work 40h Work variance 16h (unfav.)
Actual Work 24h N/A N/A N/A N/A
Remaining Work 32h N/A N/A N/A N/A
Cost $5,600 Baseline cost $4,000 Cost Variance $1,600
Start 11/6/2013 Baseline Start 11/5/2013 Start Variance 1d
Finish 11/14/2013 Baseline Finish 11/8/2013 Finish Variance 4d
Duration 7d Baseline Duration 4d Duration Variation 3d
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