A baseline is a reference that is being used as a base for future measurement. In Project Management, the term baseline refers to an accepted and approved project plan. A project baseline is a must for a project manager to monitor and evaluate the success of a project. Without it there is no possibility to compare the current status of the project with the initial estimated one.
Once the project plan gets approved the manager should save it as a baseline plan. For a project there can be saved multiple baselines depending on the project size and how often the project plan changes. Ideally, once the project baseline is created it should not be changed anymore. However, it is sometimes inevitable to adjust it due to a new requirement that implies a major change to scope or cost. Also in rare cases the project was not well scheduled in the initial phase. In these cases the best solution is to keep the initial baseline and to save the adjusted schedule as a new baseline. This way there will be several interim baselines that can be used to remember the potentially bad project management or the team members that did not deliver as promised.
Types of project baselines
Since a project baseline includes many data from a project it is difficult to manage it as a whole and usually it is broken into several parts. This makes the complexity of baseline management easier to deal with. Project baselines generally include:
- Scope baseline – the technical, physical and functional requirements for deliverable products
- Schedule baseline – the project schedule and all of the elements supporting the schedule
- Cost/Budget baseline – an approved budget usually in a time distribution format used to estimate, monitor, and control overall cost performance on the project
- Quality/Risk baseline – the set of known possible changes (uncertainties) that could impact the performance of the project (more…)