Project Baseline

by Rahulprasad Hurkadli

Every project needs a starting point. With a starting point, you can track your project’s performance and use it as a reference to assess its progress. A project baseline allows you to monitor and manage all the changes your projects undergo. For instance, if you are on a time crunch, a project baseline will inform you if you are running on schedule or need to speed up to finish your assignment on time.

However, changing projects requires a plan. Unplanned or spontaneous changes make it difficult to map a project’s status, progress, and necessary modifications. Creating a project baseline ensures your assignment is going according to plan.

What Does A Project Baseline Do?

Every project your company undertakes, big or small, undergoes many changes before getting the green light. In rare cases, it might be possible to execute the initial plan without any modifications, but in most cases, projects go through a series of edits, changes, and alterations. Working on projects, especially when it is a team project, requires input and suggestions from team members. Sometimes, the proposals might clash, or someone may come up with a better idea. In this case, the project will change until it meets all the requirements before being finalized.

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You can manage your project’s cost, budget, time, schedule, and other components with a project baseline. Change in a single element has the power to affect other aspects, and a project baseline enables you to track that. A baseline ensures you wrap up your work quickly, efficiently, properly, and successfully. It is best to create a baseline while you are in the middle of mapping a plan and before you begin your project, as it gives you ample room and time to set a reference point to monitor the changes and adjustments.

What Are The Different Types Of Project Baselines?

There are three types of project baselines: schedule, cost, and scope. All three types of baselines are interconnected and co-dependent. Therefore, malfunctioning of one baseline can affect the other two, so all three require constant monitoring to ensure they work properly.

  • Schedule Baseline- Schedule baseline ensures the project sticks to the given deadline and does not experience delays. With a schedule baseline, you can compare the deadline and schedule of the current project to the previous projects to monitor and compare the progress. This baseline follows five steps to ensure nothing is running behind schedule:
    • Project identification
    • Observing their duration
    • Planning key checkpoints
    • Monitoring the various tasks of the project
    • Making changes, if required
  • Cost Schedule- A cost baseline ensures the costs collected for a project are distributed adequately and appropriately among the project tasks. Cost baselines are the approved and finalized budget assigned to a project and decide the overall cost required to handle the given assignment. Also known as time-phased budgets, a cost baseline is the total of the estimated costs of different project tasks.
  • Scope Baseline- A scope baseline predicts the overall scope of a project. It considers and sets the project’s starting point and envisions the final product. Since a project is bound to undergo changes depending on the resources, time crunch, duration of the project, customer demands, etc., a scope baseline approves the changes being incorporated into the project.

What Is A Project Baseline And Change Management?

Since different project elements depend on each other, the project baseline monitors the changes to observe how the changes affect the tasks and the overall project. Change management monitors the three types of project baseline to evaluate the progress: schedule, cost, and scope. Change management follows specific steps to keep track of the changes:

  • Planning the change
  • Estimating the effect of the change on a project’s services
  • Predict the project’s success level
  • Create a backup or reverse plan
  • Execute the changes
  • Set the checkpoints
  • Assign different tasks to the team members
  • Track and document the changes
  • Review the changes multiple times before approving
  • Evaluate in the case of a problem

What Is A Project Baseline And Effective Project Management?

A project baseline is designed to monitor the changes, as a project is flexible. Effective project management ensures the schedule, cost, and scope baselines obtain the most accurate and real-time data. Sometimes, changes can alter the data due to new information. Effective project management determines the efficiency of a project by receiving and producing up-to-date and correct data.

How Does A Project Baseline Ensure A Successful Project?

Every successful project requires a plan to monitor the problems, changes, efficiency, and progress. A project baseline identifies the issues, incorporates the necessary changes, monitors the impact of the new changes, and manages the budget and overall scope of a project to ensure it runs smoothly.

  • Better Estimates- A project baseline provides a way to keep track of your project’s budget, schedule, and scope and offers in-depth details about a project’s performance. It gives you an accurate estimate of your project’s problems and progress, allowing you to make the necessary changes in your plans.
  • Improved Performance Analysis- You can observe and analyze your project’s performance by regularly tracking and documenting its progress to check if you are running smoothly or behind schedule.
  • Determine the Earned Value- You can compare the current status of your project with your initial plan to determine the root cause of the problems and predict any future hiccups. A project baseline allows you to track your assignment’s performance, and the resources required to finish it and monitor its duration.

How Do Project Baselines Help Manage And Meet Client Expectations?

A project baseline tracks and documents a project’s changes and progress. The documented data provides transparency regarding the project’s budget, schedule, and problems it encounters. For a successful project, the project managers need to set a clear budget, manage the finances and report the necessary changes to approve the finalized version. The transparency, record, monitoring, and documentation finish the project successfully, satisfy the clients, and meet their expectations.

In Conclusion

A project baseline ensures you finish your project successfully and efficiently. It provides you with a plan to keep track of your project’s different tasks, progress, performance, and components, such as the budget, schedule, and scope.

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