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What are Project Baselines in Project Management?

Project baselines are used by project managers to understand how project scope, schedule, and cost are progressing through the completion of a project. Project baselines differ from goals in that they are focused on the status of a project where a goal is focused on the outcomes. Adding project baselines can help you understand how the status of a project over time contributed to the completion of the project goals. Establishing and maintaining a baseline is one of the essential tools for monitoring the progress of a project. The original estimates can serve as reference points for the project managers, allowing them to compare the project’s current stage to the original estimations. Project managers can more easily keep track of baseline estimations and actual project data using project management software.

  • You can count on them being made during the course of your project, but if your baseline includes change control procedures, any setback should be minor.
  • The cost baseline is also used as a metric to measure cost performance.
  • ” With that context, you can more easily understand why goals were hit or missed.
  • It transforms a complex schedule model into a communicable and measurable timeline for all project activities, which is the basis against which progress and performance are measured.
  • These baselines serve as a project’s benchmark and provide insight into its performance, allowing project managers to make appropriate process modifications as needed.

With proper project management, it will show how a change would affect important project variables and whether the project cost or scope has to modify. A scope baseline is an approved version of your project scope, which is documented in a scope statement, work breakdown structure and WBS dictionary. The scope baseline is used as a reference to monitor project progress and compare actual versus planned results. Your schedule baseline clarifies when you will complete each deliverable.

Types of baseline in project management

In addition, it’s also helpful to include the person responsible for each budget component and a total of expenditures for your entire project. You can also create a work breakdown structure to visually lay out all of your project’s deliverables and sub-deliverables. This tool breaks work down into multiple levels, starting with your main objective at the top and branching out into deliverables and sub-deliverables below.

what is baseline in project management

This is because the baseline is a fixed point for measuring progress, and stakeholders tend to have the final say as to whether a project has been a success or not. So, if you chose those specific goalposts, make sure all invested parties know about it. This means officially updating the scope, cost, schedule, and objective.

Guide: How to Set a Project Baseline

One of her primary responsibilities was developing product manuals that supported efficient use of industrial equipment. She continues to write on the subject of time management what is baseline in project management and commercial productivity for trade websites and publications. I’ve seen novice project managers agree to backbreaking deadlines simply to please and impress the client.

In this article, we’ll show you how to baseline yourproject plan, so you can adjust your course, learn crucial lessons, and efficiently manage your projects every time. We’ll use Work OS as the framework for the most efficient project baselining. We’ll leave it to the finance folks to determine the best way to represent your budget and expenses in Confluence. The most important part of your project baseline is that this information is set at the start of the project and left alone until the conclusion.

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The baseline would set a schedule, scope, and cost for the project, so let’s check-in. The scope was for development only but it turned out that design was needed for a GDPR pop-up. The costs ran over as the designer wasn’t budgeted for and the dev team is now a week behind on their next project.

what is baseline in project management

When you don’t define your scope clearly, the project deliverables may be less than what you intended. For example, let’s assume that you’ve spent $10,000 of the budget allocated for your client’s new food service app. If your budget is $50,000 and you’re well into the project, it probably is.

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That’s why it’s important to have a contingency reserve earmarked in the budget to address project risks. Once this is all in place, you’ll want to manage your project with project management software. That way, you can set a project baseline and automatically calculate project variance as you work. Most projects have stakeholders that expect a return on their investment. For that to happen, the project must meet its deadline and stay within budget. To create a project budget, you first need to create a cost baseline so you can compare planned spend to actual spend.

Thus, it becomes easier for you to monitor team performance and compare it with the requirements. This helps you assess how different teams and employees are performing. It is not recommended to alter a project baseline without first following formal change control procedures, such as a change request form and approval process.

How to Create a Scope Baseline

When any risks occur and use all schedule contingencies, you will need to raise the change request and update the schedule once the change request is approved. But, before raising the change request, see if you can compress the schedule using fast-tracking or crashing. These are baselines for performance measurement, and they should be changed as needed. First, it allows you to better understand the current state of your project. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions about how to proceed, which in turn will result in improved outcomes.

what is baseline in project management

This allows project managers to identify potential cost overruns. You use this ‘fixed’ reference point to analyze the progress and performance of your project over time. In simple words, if you wish to understand how knee-deep you are in the project, you should look at your project baseline. You should think about how long a project will take to finish before you begin. Its main objective is to provide start and end dates so that we can compare our project progress and evaluate project performance.

Step 1. Outline the Project Scope

It’s important to mention that this won’t be your final estimate, as changes will inevitably come in, just a fixed one. In many projects, however, not every minor change requires a change of the whole baseline . For instance, schedule forecasting is a technique that uses data of observed work performance to project future performance in relation to the schedule baseline. Depending on the individual requirements for a project, this allows to track and monitor minor delays without changing the entire baseline. The schedule baseline can be changed in line with the organization’s or the project’s change control process if the schedule model or its underlying assumptions become obsolete. If you’re using project planning software, you’ll already have access to reports that tell you how much time tasks and projects take.

authors jenny oikonomou

Τζένη Οικονόμου

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