What Is a Baseline Plan?

A baseline plan is used by a project manager to record information, such as project start and end dates, the anticipated man hours it will take to complete the project, the planned cost and the expected revenue. The baseline plan will most likely evolve throughout the life of the project, but it is useful as a starting point.

A baseline plan is essentially a snapshot of the expected progress and eventual outcome of the project. This is what project managers can take to their supervisor for approval. It is also helpful to take inventory of how the project is progressing at various points along the path and update the plan if needed. There are three main benefits to having a baseline plan.

  1. Assessing performance
  2. A baseline plan helps team members keep on track with the end goal. For example, if the baseline projected that a portion of the project would take two weeks to complete and a month has gone by, that may be an indication that something is amiss.

  3. Calculating the earned value
  4. This compares the planned costs to the ones actually incurred in the project. It helps project managers see performance trends and, potentially, areas in which the baseline plan may be underestimating.

  5. Improvement in future estimating
  6. Using the data gathered, project managers can be more accurate in estimations for future projects of a similar caliber.