Baseline Schedule (Schedule Baseline) and Project Schedule
Time management is an important task in every part of life. In project management, time management is the ability to organize and plan the activities in order to complete the project on time. Good time management practices increases effectiveness and productivity of the resources. However, lack of time management can have a negative impact on a project’s goals and success. Therefore, planning and scheduling plays a key role in project management. Creating a work schedule is an effective planning method that lists and organizes all the tasks in a chart that you need to perform to complete a project. Baseline Schedule and Project Schedule are two interrelated concepts. Although both concepts refer work schedules, there are some differences. It is important to understand the difference of both concepts for a successfull project time management.
In this article we will take a glance at both concepts and list the key differences between them.
What is a Schedule ?
If you are working in the field of project planning and management, you must know the differences between schedule baseline and project schedule. However, if you are new, most probably you haven’t heard these concepts.
Let’s start with discusssing the schedule concept.
In project management, a schedule (also known as work schedule or project schedule) is a chart which includes activity lists, project deliverables, milestones and their start and finish dates. Duration of deliverables are often estimated by considering the quantities, resource availability, activity relationships, constraints and requirements.
Work schedules are commonly used for project, program and portfolio management purposes.
The development and maintenance of the schedule is an important task in many industries, such as engineering and construction. Therefore schedulers and scheduler teams are employed to create and update work schedules on a regular basis.
The project schedule represents the planned dates for performing activities in order to meet the project milestones.
Simply put, the it details what work needs to be done and which resources must be assigned in order to perform the tasks in a given time period.
Activities are identified, sequences are defined and activity durations are estimated in Project Schedules. Also The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Engineering, Procurement and Execution parts are detailed in Project Schedules.
While creating a project schedule, there are some steps need to be taken;
- Creating the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Determinig work packages
- Creating activity lists
- Defining logic and activity dependencies (or relationships)
- Defining and assigning resources that are required to perform the tasks
- Analyzing the schedule and it’s critical path
There is no difference between schedule, work schedule and project schedule. These terms can be used interchangeable. However, there are some differences between schedule baseline and project schedule. Now we will analyze them in detail.
Schedule Baseline or Baseline Schedule is the approved version of a Project Schedule. It is also known as “Target Schedule”. A Schedule Baseline is a copy of a project schedule that enables to make a comparison between the planned and the actual status of a project.
Baselines provide a “target” against which you can track a project’s resource, cost, and schedule performance. Cost and schedule variances of activities are calculated by the help of a schedule baseline.
Typically baselines are created before updating the project schedules for the first time.
At the beginning of a project, the Schedule Baseline is the same as the Project Schedule. As the tasks are performed, Project Schedule is updated.
Difference between Baseline Schedule and Project Schedule
There are some differences between these two documents. Let’s analyze them in detail
- The Project Schedule is a “living” document, whereas the Schedule Baseline is the “frozen” version of it.
- The Project Schedule is updated as the project is being executed. On the other hand, Schedule Baseline is only modified as a result of an approved change request related to project scope changes.
- The Schedule Baseline is a “Target”, whereas the Project Schedule is updated and reported in order to analyze the project’s current status.
- The Project Schedule is a Project Document. On the other hand the Schedule Baseline is a part of the Project Management Plan.
Any experienced project manager knows that a project can not be manageable without having a complete schedule. Delays are inevitable in any project which involves many activities and resources. Therefore schedule baseline is created and stored as a target and the project schedule is updated in order to see the deviatons from the baseline. In other words the deviations and variations are from the baseline schedule are shown in the project schedule. Comparison of them gives the project manager an idea related with the performance of the project.
In project management, the Schedule Baseline is used as a reference to compare with the actual results to recognize if a change, corrective action, or preventive action is required. The Schedule Baseline is a frozen version of the Project Schedule. However the Project Schedule is a live document which is updated, analyzed and reported as the work is done on the project.