A baseline for project management is the starting point for a clearly defined project plan. It is a fixed reference point for measuring and comparing the progress of a company’s projects. It allows them to evaluate how well their project performs over time. The project baseline is the completion period, percentage, or other measurement units. During the project initiation phase, the baseline planning transforms the project proposal into a preliminary project plan. To create a project baseline, the project manager works with key stakeholders to approve the scope, time, and budget and enter into agreements.
The project manager cannot set a project baseline before setting a scope, budget, and schedule. Therefore, project managers must use estimates and expertise to establish a scope, budget, and timeline that will apply to the project. They can then break it down into a completion period to better judge the project. The typical starting point for a project is to define overall objectives, responsibilities, and roles. Whether project managers are general contractors or trade contractors, this will differ. Prime contractors are more likely to set overall project goals and then turn to subcontractors to fill in the more detailed information for specific parts of their projects.
Why Is Project Baseline Important?
Project baselines allow project managers to effectively monitor and manage the impact of changes in progress, costs, or scope on everything else. When they have these three elements in place, they can, for example, see how delays in progress affect the cost of a project or even change its scope. The problem may not be recognized when consolidation is incomplete or non-existent until a cost-effective solution is too late.
Why are Baselines necessary?
Here are the three main reasons to use baseline:
Without a project baseline, progress may be delayed by issues such as the slow delivery of materials or inadequate human resources. If the delay is due to a lack of scarce resources, they may have to wait weeks or months to get back on track.
Sufficient resources are missing:
If their timeline is not well planned, they may underestimate the number of resources they need. For example, a project manager at an agency did not realize how many coders he needed to start a global e-commerce site. His team worked unfairly long hours, which was terrible for morale until he got extra staff.
When product managers do not clearly define their scope, the project may deliver less than expected. For example, suppose they know that customers want their new application to have a specific user interface but do not know decorative aspects like fonts and background color. In that case, they might get a functional product.
Project Baseline Benefits
There are three main advantages of having an approved project baseline.
The ability to measure their actual costs, progress, or scope with a baseline can help determine where a project is underperforming or overperforming. This knowledge can be used to improve future project plans and estimates.
Better performance evaluation:
As noted above, baselines provide a standard for measuring project progress. It is problematic to compare how a project is implemented without a baseline.
Calculate Earned value (EV):
Earned value allows the product manager to compare actual performance with their plan. However, it is not just a simple performance assessment tool. It also allows project managers to analyze project trends and predict whether a project will face difficulties in the future.
Project baselines are indispensable tools to keep projects on track, team motivated, and customers satisfied. The project manager will overcome most obstacles by creating, optimizing, managing, and tracking them.