• A Project Baseline is a Fixed Reference Point to measure project performance.
  • A project baseline is usually planned before the beginning of the project.
  • The baseline will allow managers to reflect upon progress by measuring the difference between the baseline plan and the actual progress of a project.
  • A project baseline is critical and, if not applied accurately, could be the reason for a project failure.

Who develops the Project Baseline?

  • The Project Baseline is the responsibility of the Main Contractor.
  • The Main Contractor will then turn to the subcontractors to fill out the finer details for their specific section of a project.

How to develop a Project Baseline?

The three most important components of a Project Baseline are: (1) Scope, (2) Schedule, and (3) Cost. All three components must be fully understood in order to create a project baseline.

  1. Identifying all tasks; which also includes grouping tasks under categories.
  2. Assigning Resources for each task.
  3. Assigning Cost for each task.
  4. Determine the Start and Finish Date for each task.
  5. Determine the Duration for each task.
  6. Determine holidays, restricted working hours, etc.
  7. Determine working hours per day, week, month for human resources.
  8. Categorize the tasks for each working area (e.g. below ground level, ground floor, typical floors, roof).
  9. Understand the relationship between two parties (e.g. Plaster Works and HVAC).
  10. Understanding the relationships (or dependencies) between tasks (Start-to-Finish, Start-to-Start, Finish-to-Start, Finish-to-Finish).
  11. Categorize the tasks based on project stages (e.g. mobilization, construction, testing and commissioning, etc).
  12. Understanding the relationships and coordination between involved parties.

Key Data in a Baseline

  • Task
  • Duration
  • Start Date
  • End Date
  • Dependencies
  • Costs

Benefits of a Project Baseline

  1. Allows extensive planning where little details of the project are included.
  2. Assesses the performance of a project.
  3. Keeps the Project Schedule and Cost within limits.
  4. Improves project estimation.

Updating the Baseline during the Project

The baseline should be monitored and controlled, and must not be changed throughout the project. Changes to a baseline after a project has started will require approval from other parties (e.g. Employer/Engineer), and must have a version number clearly mentioning the reason to adjusting the baseline. Changing a baseline frequently will make it difficult to use as a measurement for project progress. Reasons for changing a baseline after a project has started may only be allowed in the following cases:

  1. Force Majeure
  2. Major Accidents
  3. Major Changes (e.g. contractor default/replacement)