Project Baseline : –

Project baseline is a simple but useful tool used by project managers for monitoring project progress. In this article, I will explain what project baseline is, and explore how it can be useful.

What is project baseline in project management?

Project baseline is a reference point through which project progress can be tracked.

Project baseline is defined at the start of the project when the project is in the planning phase. As the project progresses, the variations in project performance can be seen by comparing it with the original plan.

Generally, project baseline has three main parameters:-

  • Cost: – It is an estimated budget for a project.
  • Schedule: – It is the time required for project deliverables to be completed.
  • Scope: – These are the range of tasks required for the project to be completed.

All the three parameters in addition to other variables depending on the type of project you are implementing when combined together helps in monitoring the project progress.

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Example: –

Let’s say you decided to build a backyard and hire a few people to do the job. You then decide on a budget, schedule and the tasks involved.

The construction manager gives you an estimated budget of $5000 and 2 weeks deadline to complete the task. This will become your baseline.

Now, after a week you decide to check on the work and find that the materials you ordered haven’t arrived yet. Due to this, the task gets delayed, which in turn will increase the labour cost. The delay will affect the overall scope of this project.

As you can see in the above example, delaying the task led to increase in cost of the project. And as all the parameters are interdependent, change in any one of the parameters will affect the others too.

In such scenarios, having a defined baseline while implementing the project is important. The defined baseline would give a clear point of reference during the execution, in order to keep the project on schedule.

So every user must be aware of the changes made in the baseline parameters and a strict process should be followed if any change is to be made to the original baseline.

What are the benefits of having project baseline?

  • Better Performance assessment: –

Let’s say, your project is on track to be completed in a month. But the Scheduled baseline is 20 days. In this case, you need to speed up the tasks to avoid missing the deadline.

Comparing the actual progress with the baseline lets you see the deviation of the project actuals from the original baseline.

  • Calculating earned value : –

Earned value helps you to calculate the actuals i.e hours of work performed and cost of work performed as compared to planned hours and costs. It helps you quantify your project progress for better understanding.

You can learn more about earned value here.

Having project baseline lets you avoid problems like Scheduling Delays, Cost Overruns, Miscommunication with stakeholders and also lets you track your project progress.

Not having a clear indication of the baseline to map whether the project is on track creates a waterfall effect which results in uncontrolled project behaviour.

Conclusion : –

Often times when the PM’s are working in a Controlled Environment, the deadline of a project is very critical. To ensure the delivery of the project within scheduled time under allotted budget is essential. Thus, Project baseline can be an important tool to achieve these targets.

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