Understanding the Project Baseline in Project Management (2023)

I'm often surprised at how good we've become at setting goals. with your riseDISTRICTand othersgoal setting frameworks, professionals in almost any industry can reliably set goals for projects and teams. I'm equally surprised at how difficult it can be to figure out why you hit a target or fell behind. A project baseline helps add valuable context to this conversation. When creating project baselines, you can now start exploring with the simple question, "Have we reached the project baseline?" With this structure, you can more easily understand why goals were scored or missed.

What is a project baseline in project management?

A project baseline is a fixed benchmark used to compare project performance over time. Project baselines are used by project managers to understand how project scope, schedule, and costs are progressing during the completion of a project. Project baselines differ from goals in that they focus on the state of a project, where a goal focuses on results. Adding project baselines can help you understand how the state of a project over time has contributed to the achievement of project objectives.

Let's imagine a software development team goes on a two-week project to make an older registration form GDPR compliant. This is urgent because it's 2023 and this form should have been completed years ago! There is also complexity here as these entries are used throughout the enterprise and each endpoint needs to be secure. A project manager rotates the project and work begins.

Three weeks later, the team celebrates a successful end-to-end test and the solution goes into production. Was the project successful?

Focusing on project goals would say yes! A check against the project baseline might lead to a different answer. The baseline would define a schedule, scope, and cost for the project, so let's check it out. The project was planned for two weeks, but it took three. The area was for development only, but it turned out that planning a GDPR pop-up was needed. Costs rose because the designer was under budget and the development team is now a week behind on their next project. We always want to celebrate success, but a project baseline helps all teams understand at what cost that success came.

Basic elements of a project baseline

Project managers know what is needed in an excellentproject plan. We are lucky to have so manyproject management basicsit is now widely used and understood. The basic elements of a project baseline were probably already discussed during project setup, and by simply putting them together, we have a project baseline and are ready to start working.

1. Scope

The project scope is a detailed description of the activities, resources, and deliverables associated with the project. It is important that the scope sets boundaries for the project with clear statements about what does and what does not go into the project. The project scope also describes key stakeholders, teammates, processes, assumptions, and constraints. All of this is documented in a scope statement.

A simple scoping statement from our GDPR example: "Development Team A" to code and develop a solution to use and store GDPR compliant data from "Registration Form B" in two weeks or less.

(Video) What is Project Baseline

2. Schedule

Whether your organization's business sprints are hours, days, or weeks, your project baseline needs a timeline. A complete program has a start date, an end date, and elapsed time (duration). Many teams label project end dates with good qualifications as "expected" or "estimated". The good thing about the project baseline is that we don't face uncertainties. Setting the schedule on day one is a requirement for effective use of the baseline.

In the GDPR example, a project manager might have set a two-week work schedule, with two days for discovery, five days for development, and three days for testing and implementation.

3. Costs

Project managers are very good at this! A project cost is a dollar or amount of time teams agree to allocate to a project. The cost includes a budget for any expenses the team may incur in carrying out the scope of the project. For teams, time lost not working on other projects can be accounted for in project costs.

Let's say "Development Team A" in the GDPR example consists of hourly employees, so the project costs are all hourly rates for 40 hours a week for two weeks.

How do you create or create a project baseline?

Your project baseline should be within yourproject plan. These are best created in open, editable documents that are easily accessible to all team members on the project. A Confluence template can help your teams develop pre-configured project plans with a dedicated space for the project baseline.

Often the first thing added to the project page is the scope statement. Scope statements are usually written in sentences or bullet points that cover important work, resources, and deliverables for the project. Then field declarations are often edited over and over again as things change.

(Video) What Is a Project Baseline and When To Use It?

The development option is to take that scope statement and lock it into the project baseline. Instead of making changes to the scope statement, you revise your intent and have a clear parameter for the scope deviation that so often derails the project.

The program goes on. Again, your project managers are experts at this! mm thanksGantt chartseroad mapto easily visualize the project plan. A roadmap helps you follow different workflows to make sure everything is aligned. You define the start date and end date in the roadmap so the duration of the project is clear.

This is a great opportunity to start organizing your work items in Jira. Let's simplify the project scope into four tasks: design, develop, test, and deploy. Now let's create four Jira issues, one for each task. We now add a start and end date to each issue. With a single click on the roadmap view, we have an accurate representation of all the work to be done and by what dates. Integrate this roadmap into your Confluence project baseline and add a timeline.

The last thing you need to baseline your project is cost. Like scope and schedule, costs will remain constant once entered into the project baseline. A finance or accounting teammate can help you estimate your project costs, and will often need to help you adjust those costs over time. By defining these costs in your project's baseline, you can see exactly how much is over or under budget when the project is completed.

Project baseline example in Confluence

Its purpose is a dedicated space for your project baseline, containing the project scope, schedule, and costs. Your project's baseline lives in youproject plan. The first thing to do in a project plan is to assemble the team. Here's an example of different roles you can assign to various people to help complete the project.

Understanding the Project Baseline in Project Management (1)

Add a quick "Project Baseline" header to your page and start connecting the basics. First you want to define the range. This example shows a simple way to structure what is included in your project and what is not.

Understanding the Project Baseline in Project Management (2)

Then you can focus on visualizing the project timeline. Scripts embedded in a Confluence page are the simplest way to do this.

Understanding the Project Baseline in Project Management (3)

The last thing to add is the cost of the project. We leave it up to finance people to decide the best way to represent their budget and expenses in Confluence. The most important part of the project baseline is that this information is defined at the beginning of the project and set aside until completion.

(Video) What is a Project Baseline? And Project Baselining?

Advantages of a project baseline

There can be a boost when you add another process to your existing project management practices. Adding a project baseline can reveal exciting benefits for project managers, team leaders, project contributors, and stakeholders.

clear goal

Your project baseline contains the three most important elements of a successful project. When reporting project success, you can use the project baseline to characterize that success. This leads to more honest goal reporting, where you can celebrate milestones but also acknowledge that they arrived a week later than planned.

Fluency limit range

Scope creep is when the scope of a project changes over time. Field displacement often drains the team and contributes to missed deadlines. By assessing your project's baseline, you have tangible evidence of what you've committed to, and you can use that evidence to strengthen your resolve. It's always hard to say no, but the project's bottom line will be on your side.

Stick to the schedule

You put a lot of effort into the project plan. A roadmap or Gantt chart is easy to refer to to see how your project is tracking. This can be difficult with multiple workflows and cross-team dependencies. Publishing your project can act as a great motivator for teammates, who can clearly see how their work affects others and the overall project plan.

(Video) What is a BASELINE? PMBOK Key Concepts for Project Management

Use Confluence to make it easy to baseline your project

When adopting a new process, it is important to eliminate friction. Confluence helps eliminate friction by allowing you to add project baselines to your project page templates. The project baseline takes the components you're likely already building and simply repackages them in a new container. Adding this container to your project's page template will speed up enterprise-wide deployment. Atlssian has great featuresget inspired to make moldsand start meContribution.

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Understanding the Project Baseline in Project Management (4)

Max Rehkopf

As a self-proclaimed "chaos muppet", I look to flexible practices and lean principles to bring order to my everyday life. I enjoy sharing these lessons with others through the many articles, talks and videos I create for Atlassian.

(Video) #10 Learn What Is a baseline in a Project ● Baseline ● PMP CAPM


What is project baseline in project management? ›

What is a project baseline in project management? Project baselines are "the approved version of a work product used as a basis for comparison to actual results," according to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). Baselines act as reference points you can use to monitor the progress of a project.

What are 3 possible baselines that could be set for the project? ›

A project baseline typically has three components: schedule, cost, and scope. Often, these three baselines are separately monitored, controlled, and reported to ensure each is on track.

How do you manage baseline in project management? ›

There are four steps you need to follow:
  1. Define the project's scope. The first step is to define the objectives of the project clearly. ...
  2. Create a project schedule. The next step is to create a project schedule. ...
  3. Estimate the project costs. ...
  4. Get approval from stakeholders.
Aug 3, 2022

What is cost baseline and what is its importance to project success? ›

The cost baseline allows you to compare actual expenses to projected expenses at the same point in the project, and evaluate the overall cost performance. Without this information, you have no way of performing cost analysis and knowing if your project is exceeding its budget.

Why a project baseline is important? ›

Establishing a baseline allows you to assess performance throughout the duration of a project. If a project is performing behind time schedule or above budget, it is time to either make changes to the baseline or add more resources by increasing time or costs.

What is the purpose of baseline? ›

The purpose of the baseline information is to assess the effect of the program and to compare what happens before and after the program has been implemented. Without baseline data, it's difficult to estimate any changes or to demonstrate progress, so it's best to capture baseline whenever possible.

What are 4 project baselines? ›

To baseline a project, you'll typically need four elements: milestones, budget, schedule, and scope.

What is an example of a baseline plan? ›

Suppose you are ready to spend an amount of $5000 and you are available for the initial 2 weeks of September. Then $5000 is your Cost Baseline and initial 2 weeks of September is your Schedule Baseline. The Scope Baseline of the project will include the deliverables of the project.

What is an example of a baseline? ›

For example, a company that wants to measure the success of a product line can use the number of units sold during the first year as a baseline against which subsequent annual sales are measured. The baseline serves as the starting point against which all future sales are measured.

How do you set a project baseline? ›

You can select up to 10 tasks at one time. Click the Project tab. In the Schedule group, point to Set Baseline, and then click Set Baseline. Click Set baseline, and then select the baseline that you want to set.

What is project baseline vs forecast? ›

Baseline schedule is unchangeable, defined since the project bid and will be the reference schedule level throughout the project. On the other hand, forecast schedule should be regularly updated based on the actual project performance. forecast schedule can be longer or shorter than the baseline schedule.

What is project baseline vs target? ›

WHAT ARE BASELINES AND TARGETS? A baseline is the value of a performance indicator before the implementation of projects or activities, while a target is the specific, planned level of result to be achieved within an explicit timeframe (see ADS 203.3.


1. How to Set a Project Baseline
2. How to Baseline a Project Scope
3. Baseline in Project Management
(Project Management)
4. Everything you need to know about Project Management Baseline
(PM Master Prep)
5. MS Project 2016 Baselines: compare actual and initial plan
(Radu Popa)
6. Project Baseline
(Project Management)


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