Time management is one of the most important processes in project management. It is the discipline of planning and controlling the duration of a project. A baseline schedule is a main project management document that should be created before the project starts. It demonstrates the project execution strategy, key project deliverables, activity planned dates and milestones. Activities are grouped under different work breakdown structure levels. Engineering, procurement, production, testing etc. processes are highlighted in baseline schedules.
Baseline schedule is also known as schedule baseline or target schedule. It is an approved copy of project schedule that can be used to analyze the project performance and report the schedule variances. Baseline schedule creates a road map to prepare baseline budget, mobilization plans and resource allocation plans.
According to PMBOK Guide, a Project Schedule represents “The planned dates for performing activities and the planned dates for meeting milestones.”
Baselines are the frozen version of the project schedules. Before updating the project schedule for the first time, baseline schedule is retained as a target. This means the baseline schedule is the same as the project schedule at the beginning.
As the project progressed and tasks are performed, the baseline schedule may deviate from the actual schedule. It may not reflect the current project status. Risks and unforeseen events may effect and some changes outside the control of project management team may cause delays.
Under these circumstances remedial actions should be taken and recovery plans should be created. It is important to emphasize that baselines should only be changed when there is a change in scope.
Baseline Schedule Tracking
After the approval of the baseline schedule by the stakeholders, it will be retained as target. Schedule tracking is to analyze the differences between the planned and the actual dates. Changes in the critical path, schedule variances and delays are determined and reported in all updates.
In project time management, baseline schedules are used as references to analyze the schedule performance of the project. It is a reference document which compares the planned and the actual dates. Schedule Performance Index (SPI) can be used to understand how far ahead or behind the project is at the point of analysis.
See Also: The Importance of a Baseline Budget