What Does Baseline Mean?

In IT management, a baseline is the expected values or conditions against which all performances are compared. A baseline is a fixed reference point. From a project management perspective, the creation of baselines is considered as the official end of project planning and the start of project execution and control. Control of baselines is crucial for project and IT management.


Techopedia Explains Baseline

A baseline is the visible measure or progress and often marks milestones. In other words, a baseline serves as a crucial input for performing analysis to evaluate current performance against anticipated levels for the specific tasks in an established time-phase. A baseline also helps in understanding a historical view of product elements for similar projects. Project leaders could evaluate the relative progress of specific parts of a project and a project as a whole with the help of this information. Thus it helps in the forecasting of the outcome of the project.

In IT management, there are three types of baselines: cost baseline, scope baseline and schedule baseline. The combination of these three baselines are called the performance measurement baseline, which is used for earn value measurements. Whenever changes to the scope of a project are undertaken, schedules are adjusted and new, revised baselines are used. Most project management applications have features for maintaining and tracking baselines.

Baselines help in measuring and controlling project-related activities. Baselines help in assessing performance. It helps in improving the accuracy related to future estimation and also helps in earned valued calculation.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.