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The integrated project plan that includes scope, schedule, and resource information for all aspects of the project is the project baseline plan.
When to use
The baseline plan has two primary uses. The first is during project planning. The baseline plan integrates the estimates from all Core Team members along with other project planning information to ensure the project plan is viable. The second use is during project execution. The baseline plan is used to communicate to senior management and the project team the expectations for conducting the work of the project. The project team performance will be assessed against the baseline plan. The plan can be changed when a project boundary is changed, or a major replan is initiated due to a risk or issue, but that again requires a formal change to the plan.
- The baseline plan is normally created by the project manager as the project manager integrates the planning inputs from each core team member. Project management software or other planning tools are helpful when integrating complex projects. The baseline plan is comprised of the scope plan, the schedule plan and the project budget.
- Once all items have been integrated, the project manager and core team members look for inconsistencies and incompatibilities between the various inputs, such as milestone misalignment or resource over-allocation.
- These inconsistencies and incompatibilities are resolved by the project manager and core team members.
- The plan is then reviewed for risk areas. The risks are prioritized and risk response plans are created for the high risks. The risk response plans are incorporated into the project baseline plan.
(Note: up until this time, the baseline plan has been in draft mode and is being regularly changed and updated by the project core team.)
- When planning is complete, the baseline plan is approved per the project management methodology and the plan now goes under change control.
- The project manager and core team use the baseline plan to direct their activities and report on progress.
- When required, the baseline plan can be changed through the formal project change control approach used by the business.
Baseline: “The approved version of a work product that can be changed only through formal change control procedures and is used as a basis for comparison to actual results.” PMBOK® Guide
This definition is taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2017.
Hints & tips
The more detail there is in the plan, the less flexibility the core team has to accomodate day-to-day variations. However, the less detail there is in the plan the more team meetings are needed to keep activities coordinated.
The need for project reviews is inversely correlated to the amount of detail in the baseline plan.
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