In Project Management, the term project baseline refers to an accepted and approved project plan. Besides the schedule baseline, the cost/budget baseline is the most important part of a project baseline. The cost baseline is that part of the project baseline that handles the amount of money the project is predicted to cost and on the other side when that money will be spent. It is an approved budget usually in a time distribution format used to estimate, monitor, and control the overall cost performance of the project.
In some cases there can be several intermediary baselines. This happens when either the project was not well planned or when significant changes appear to the scope of the project. However the initial baseline is usually what gets budgeted in the company’s financials. All types of baselines are closely related and changes to one of them will result in changes to the others. If a change is made in the project scope baseline, the schedule baseline gets adjusted and hence the cost baseline will probably have to be changed as well.
How is cost baseline created
When it comes to computing the total cost of the project some estimates need to be done. Once the project schedule is ready and approved, a bottom-up procedure should be used where for each activity of the project it is estimated a detailed cost. This way a total cost for each major phase and for the entire project gets computed. These initial costs of all of the planned activities will become the initial estimated budget.
According to PMBOK the cost baseline is a “time-phased budget that is used as a basis against which to measure, monitor, and control overall cost performance on the project.” But many factors can affect the cost performance of a project so the above estimated costs established during the planning phase might not be estimated that well. The true costs of certain tasks may not be well known at planning time. If a given price for materials, trainings or travel costs was taken into consideration at planning phase but at execution time these are increased there is an unforeseen additional cost. (more…)