Project Schedule and Baseline Schedule (Schedule Baseline)
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 increase the 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 play 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. Project Schedule and Baseline Schedule are two interrelated concepts. Although both concepts refer to work schedules, there are some differences. It is important to understand the difference between both concepts for successful 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 these two important scheduling concepts. However, if you are new, most probably you haven’t heard them.
Let’s start with discussing the scheduling 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 completion dates. Duration of deliverables are often estimated by considering the quantities, resource availability, activity relationships, constraints, and requirements.
Primavera P6, Microsoft Project and Excel software can be used to create work schedules.
Work schedules are commonly used for project, program and portfolio management purposes.
Generally, activities are created and listed by inspecting the project scope. The Work Breakdown Structure is used to organize and group the deliverables in a hierarchical system.
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, 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)
- Determining 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 its critical path
There is no difference between schedule, work schedule and project schedule. These terms can be used interchangeably. However, there are some differences between these concepts. 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 variance 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 Project Schedule and Baseline 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 cannot 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 deviations 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 to the performance of the project.
In time 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. On the other hand, the Project Schedule is a live document which is updated, analyzed and reported as the work is done on the project.
In this article, we discuss some of the key scheduling terms. Are you creating work schedules for your project? If you are, please share your experiences and opinions with us.