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 is used several times in the lifecycle of the project. 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 third is part of project control. The project team performance will be assessed against the baseline plan.
The baseline is used to identify risks in the plan, and as risk response actions are defined and implemented, the baseline plan is updated to show the impact of the risk response. 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 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. In addition, the project manager may use the Project Charter or internal templates and checklists to guide the plan development. Project management software or other planning tools are helpful when integrating complex projects.
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. In particular, they identify required linkages between tasks. On Agile projects, the Product Owner will set the priorities between stories and deliverables to ensure the plan addresses the most important items thoroughly. These inconsistencies and incompatibilities are resolved by the project manager and core team members prior to finalizing the plan.
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.
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.” 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) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013.
Hints & tips
- The more detail in the plan, the less need for integration meetings, but also the less flexibility.
- Traditional projects often have a detailed plan – can speed execution, as long as there are no changes.
- An Agile project resets the baseline plan after each Sprint. It is designed to accommodate flexibility.
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