schedule baseline

Project managers utilize a schedule baseline to monitor tasks and guarantee that they are completed on time. In project management, time management is critical.

A schedule baseline is a project planning document that is generated prior to the start of a project. It displays the project’s execution strategy, length, critical path, deliverables, scheduled dates, task dependence, and project milestones, among other things.

What is a Project Schedule Baseline?

A project schedule baseline is a timed estimate for an approved project. The majority of schedule baselines are created using graphic charts to make them easier to understand and communicate. The timetable baseline also aids in the comparison of “where you should be” and “where you are.”

Work breakdown structure levels can be used to organize activities in a scheduling baseline. Although each project has its own timeline baseline, the essential information remains the same.

A project schedule baseline can have the following elements:

  1. A sequence of project activities
  2. Activity dependencies, including leads and lags
  3. Activity durations
  4. Resource requirements
  5. Planned start and completion dates of activities
  6. Assumptions and constraints
  7. And other items required for project schedule planning

Using project management software, project managers create a baseline schedule. This scheduling model provides output in a diagram such as a Gantt chart.

In project management, a baseline serves as a foundation for project concepts. A project schedule is a set of tasks that a project manager must execute within a time range to complete the project.

The schedule baseline is a project metric that can be used to track project progress. It keeps track of any modifications or deviations. When you compare the project’s current status to the baseline, you can spot differences and take corrective action to get the project back on track.

Aside from the scope and cost management baselines, the scheduling baseline is one of the three project baselines. They provide the performance measuring baseline when put together.

Who Can Use a Project Schedule Baseline?

Every project, regardless of industry, uses a schedule baseline. It helps track progress and keeps people motivated and productive, whether in construction, IT, healthcare, or other fields.

Schedule baselines are becoming less important in IT projects as a result of the adoption of agile approaches. Agile projects do not have a precise scope of work upfront; hence there is no schedule baseline.

You’ll need the scope of work with you to create a scheduling baseline.

What is the Importance of a Project Schedule Baseline?

A scheduling baseline is helpful for many reasons, such as:

  1. Helps Avoid Conflicts
  2. Documentation of an Approved Project Schedule 
  3. Communication of Milestones 
  4. Schedule Controlling and Performance Measurements

Helps Avoid Conflicts

Conflicts are widespread in projects, with timetable priority being the most typical cause. A schedule baseline aids in the resolution of scheduling priority issues, resulting in fewer disputes on the project.

Documentation of an Approved Project Schedule

A baseline ensures that all project stakeholders are aware of the project’s objectives, including estimates, assumptions, restrictions, and dependencies. It also ensures that everyone is on the same page, preventing misunderstandings and debates about deadlines.

It outlines planned activities (work packages) as well as placeholder actions that will be built up over time (planning packages).

Baselining is essential to keep track of a project’s progress and results.

Communication of Milestone Dates

Members of the project team desire clarity on given duties, such as resource requirements, start and conclusion dates, and so on. This information can be found in the scheduling baseline. This enables work package owners to properly manage their tasks.

It also contains information on the chronology, interdependencies, and assumptions of the activities.

Schedule Controlling and Performance Measurement

The baseline provides the basis against which the project performance is measured.

The schedule baseline is utilized for various monitoring and control assessments. Among these are:

These analyses reveal differences between the actual and anticipated schedules. These differences are known as deviations and may require you to update the baseline. 

Benefits of a Project Schedule Baseline

The benefits of the project schedule baseline are as follows:

  1. Earned value calculation
  2. Creating documentation for the approved scheduling model
  3. Facilitating milestone communication
  4. Increasing the precision of estimates
  5. Keeping a project team on track
  6. Monitoring and adjusting a schedule’s performance metrics
  7. Providing a foundation for cost estimates
  8. Providing a foundation for risk assessment.

How to Create a Project Schedule Baseline

The following steps are required to develop a schedule baseline.

Determine Tasks

Using the scope of work, create a work breakdown structure. This guarantees that no tasks are overlooked. The work package is the lowest level in the WBS. Tasks and activities should be separated from the work bundle. Define activities in detail for a realistic schedule.

Hold planning sessions with the team and stakeholders to guarantee you don’t overlook any crucial information or milestones. Examine your company’s process assets and previous similar project files.

Determine the Time Duration

Estimate the duration of the activities after they’ve been determined. You can utilize analogous, parametric, or bottom-up estimating strategies to estimate activity duration.

Milestones are the intermediary points in huge projects. They frequently indicate the end of one project phase and the beginning of the next. Milestones are used to indicate key milestones in a project.

Determine all project milestones.

Determine Dependencies

Some activities will be isolated and independent. Others will have dependencies, but they will not start or finish until the successor or predecessor activity has started or finished. If these dependent jobs aren’t detected, they could cause problems later on.

Find dependencies for every activity because you won’t be able to construct your project network diagram or Gantt Chart without it.

Assign Resources

The next step is to assign resources to activities. You must assign resources to activities. Resources can be materials, team members, tools, etc. Resource costs are linked with the duration they are being used.

Establish a Baseline

You now have a project timeline. Setting the baseline is just a picture of this data and freezing it. Now, when you execute the project, you can compare your progress.

Can You Change a Project Baseline?

Suppose a risk arises that has an influence on the schedule, or any assumption proves to be incorrect. In that situation, a project manager will submit a change request, which will be granted, and the schedule baseline will be updated.

The schedule baseline has been approved. As a result, project managers must obtain management approval before making changes.

Not all deviations necessitate a shift in the scheduling baseline. The change is implemented in accordance with the criteria set forth in the change management procedure.

Schedule forecasting is a method of estimating future performance in relation to a schedule baseline using data from observed work performance. This allows for the recording and monitoring of minor delays without modifying the baseline, depending on the project’s demands.

When Should a Schedule Baseline be Changed?

In three cases, you can update the schedule baseline:

  1. Suppose the scheduling baseline is created utilizing a progressive elaboration method to create the timetable from start to finish. Near-term activities are planned in detail, whereas distant activities are added based on informed predictions. Project managers change the timetable as new information becomes available. WBS planning packages, for example, are translated into work packages with the appropriate sequence, duration, and cost estimates.
  2. Suppose a risk occurs, and it eats up all schedule contingency or any unidentified risk occurs and has affected the schedule baseline. In that case, you will raise a change request to update the schedule baseline. Once the request is approved, you will update the baseline.
  3. If a client requests changes in scope, you will review the impact of scope changes on the schedule baseline. If it affects the schedule, you will update the schedule baseline.

Problems Caused by Not Having a Project Baseline

Not having a schedule baseline can cause the following issues:

  • Insufficient resource planning
  • Schedule delays 
  • Quality management issues
  • Change management issues
  • Dissatisfaction among stakeholders
  • Poor progress and performance reporting

Difference Between a Project Schedule and a Project Schedule Baseline

The difference between project schedule and schedule baseline are as follows:

  1. The schedule baseline is an “approved” version of the project schedule.
  2. The project schedule is a living document, and the schedule baseline is frozen.
  3. A project schedule is a project document, and a schedule baseline is a part of the project management plan.
  4. The project schedule would get updated as the project progresses, whereas the schedule baseline is modified only when there is an approved change request.
  5. Schedule performance can be measured by comparing the actual (project schedule) with the baseline (schedule baseline).
  6. The project schedule and schedule baseline are the same at the beginning of the project. The actual progress of the work done is updated on the project schedule. The latest version of the actual (project) schedule is called the project schedule.

Example of a Project Schedule Baseline

Use this example to understand how one step of a finished project schedule baseline document may appear in practice: 

Project name: Steel Framed City Mall Construction.

Project manager: John Doe

Start date: May 22, 2022

End date: August 22, 2022

Timeline

Start date: May 22, 2022

End date: August 22, 2022

Duration (In days): 90

Schedule 

Lay the foundation > Complete wall framing  > Install rough plumbing, electrical and Insulation for HVAC systems > Finish drywall installation > Supply and install fixtures > Complete interior finishes > Fix and finish doorways > Install flooring > Install countertops > Finish mechanical installation > External finishes. 

Budget: 400,000 USD

Resources

  • A team of 20 people
  • Concrete
  • Insulated cables
  • Timber
  • Flooring
  • Piping
  • Granite Countertops
  • Plasterboard

Risks

Delayed shipment for countertops

Issues

No issues currently

Comments

Counter tops must be ordered earlier to minimize the delay.

Conclusion

The project schedule baseline serves as a benchmark for measuring project performance. It simplifies a lengthy schedule into a comprehensible and measurable timeline for all project operations. It aids project managers in managing activities and the timely completion of projects.