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
Level of risk at the outset – if the level rises too far above baseline – need to reassess the business case
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
Initial specification and design of a product. Changes are authorized through change control and recorded through configuration management
Carefully curated video recommendations for you:
- Project Planning Process – How to Build Effective Project Plans | Video
- Building a Project Plan – Conversation with Kristina Kushner | Video
- How to Estimate Project Costs | Video
- How to Anticipate Future Budget Challenges to Your Project | Video
- Pressure to Reduce Your Project Budget | Video
- Project Cost Management and Self Preservation | Video
- How to Deliver Effective Project Cost Management | Video
- Project Planning Process: Navigate the Many Steps You Need
- 3 Ways to Produce Your Next Project Budget
- Project Cost Management: What You Need to Know and Do
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.
Note that the links are affiliated.
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