Project Server: Why don’t my OLAP reports show my baselines correctly?

A quick posting to finish the week – and one that has some history…  In the dim and distant past (perhaps as long ago as Project Server 2002…) when I first joined the support team I remember this being one of my first cases.  The answer hasn’t changed through to Project Server 2007 and Project Server 2010, and we do not appear to have done a good job in documenting this.  So here goes.  There will be circumstances when your OLAP reports from the Business Intelligence center do not match what Project Professional is telling you.  The reason is the way OLAP reports work, compared to how Project Professional (and PWA) can hold and display the data.

I have created a very simple project to illustrate the problem.  I have three tasks with costs associated.  I baseline the project.  I then add another task, and I want to baseline this specific task, but do not want to roll-up the baseline to the project summary as this would distort the big picture.  So my project looks like this – where the “Added Task” is the one not included in the total baseline of $17,600.


PWA gets it:


But in OLAP, MSP_Portfolio_Analyzer cube shows us a different story.


The reason for the discrepancy is that the concept of OLAP reports is that they are aggregating data – and have pre-calculated aggregates, which makes it very fast to see the total cost of all your projects, the total work for all your resources, the total baseline for all your tasks in a project… And there’s the rub.  It totals all the baselines for all the tasks to get the total baseline for the project.  It does not take the total figure from the project summary task – which is where we see it in the first two screenshots.  You can also get differences, but in the other direction, in the case where a baselined task is deleted – as the sum of all the tasks will now not include that value – but the project summary task still will.

I hope this helps explain why you might see differences in your cubes compared to PWA – and for baseline tracking you’d be better to use the Project Center.