25 August, 2022

What is a Project Baseline? | Video

A new Project Plan needs a Baseline. It’s how we keep ourselves honest, as Project Managers. But, what is a Project Baseline?

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Definition of a Baseline

A baseline is the final, approved version of the project plan, its schedule, budget, and scope statement. It is the version against which you will measure all progress and evolution of your project.

Of the many formal definitions, I like best those from:

The PRINCE2 definition

‘Reference against which an entity is monitored and controlled.’

The PMBOK 7 definition

‘The approved version of a work product used a basis for comparison to actual results.’

Creating a Baseline

A Baseline is created at the start of a project or a stage in a project, to provide a basis for monitor and control.


After a significant disruption or unexpected outcome, we may also re-baseline our project.

This can be reactive re-baselining

That is, we re-baseline in response to an unanticipated event

Or it can be proactive or planned re-baselining

That is, we may anticipate a point in the project where a specific event or cluster of events will occur, but we cannot reasonably anticipate how events will play out

Baselines in Project Management Software

The more sophisticated project management software allows us to store baseline data and then compare updated versions of our plan against that baseline.

What Aspects of a Project can You Baseline?

Baseline is used as a noun: ‘a baseline’ and also as a verb ‘to baseline’ meaning to create a baseline.

You can baseline:


Initial scope statement – usually articulated as a WBS or WBS dictionary


Initial program over time


Initial cost statement – usually includes project contingency, but not management reserves outside the control of the project team – if the level rises too far above baseline – need to reassess the business case

Less commonly, we also create baselines for:

Performance measurement baseline 

Integrates scope, schedule, and budget baselines and provides a basis for monitoring and controlling project

Risk baseline 

Level of risk at the outset – if the level rises too far above baseline – need to reassess the business case

Benefits baseline 

Signed-off benefits case. If anticipated benefits fall too far below baseline – need to reassess the business case. Often directly links to the scope baseline

Product baseline 

Initial specification and design of a product. Changes are authorized through change control and recorded through configuration management

Carefully curated video recommendations for you:

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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