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How a solid project baseline schedule brings value to a project

​Project managers will recognize the old saying: 'Plan the work… then work the plan'

Marion Close, Planning Manager with Linesight, outlines the advantages that a well-constructed schedule brings to your project.

'By creating a solid schedule at the start of the project, project managers can help curb cost overruns, resource shortages or excessive change requests'


- The Society of Construction Law (SCL) Delay and Disruption Protocol October 2002

The top 10 (in no particular order) advantages are:

Gives clear visibility of the change impact to the project

When each activity is logically tied with a predecessor and successor, durations and budgeted hours are accurately estimated, an acceleration or delay scenario can be calculated, to give better visibility to the Project Manager of how and where the project will be impacted. Better information = better decisions.

Provides good control over areas of project by working to a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)

At initiation phase of the project a WBS will be set up in accordance to how the work will be performed. In turn, the WBS will correspond with the CBS (Cost Breakdown Structure) making clear correlation between what is being spent (€), earned and performed.

Provides visibility for what team members need to be working on

Upon agreement of the baseline by all project stakeholders, a two or four-week look ahead is issued to the team to allow them to plan their work around the critical activities and help them focus on what needs to be done and when.  This will significantly reduce the possibility of project slippage.

Offers a basis to monitor and control project scope

Once the baseline is set, a copy is then taken to start tracking progress against.  Any significant deviation from the baseline scope is considered a change and will be part of Management of Change practice.

Identifies  and manages project critical path(s) using CPM (Critical Path methodology) throughout the project life cycle

Project critical paths are the tasks that must start and/or finish on time to ensure that the project ends on schedule1. The critical path may change over the life cycle of the project as each task is mitigated and managed.  

Provides accurate project progress using EVM (Earned Value Measurement)

By practicing EVM, you must invest time in building a strong logic driven schedule. Once done, you can then extract accurate data from your schedule to use to build your planned curves.  Then throughout the life cycle you will compare your Earned against your planned curve and determine your forecast project progress based on your performance to date.

Provides a tool to carefully manage resource availability and capacity

When onsite resources are constrained due to safety or operational reasons, you can build a maximum resource capacity constraint on a monthly or weekly basis to which the schedule should not run over this number.  This helps with resource levelling based on the total float on over allocated activities.

Provides a basis to project cost to forecast finance

Once you have established a clear WBS, and collaboration is made with Cost Management and their CBS (Cost Breakdown Structure), Cost will be able to reference a common code between the WBS and CBS and establish better estimates for the cost forecast, path to completion.

Upon project completion, information from the as-built will provide more accurate benchmarking for durations, fragments and man-hours

Following the handover of the project, the schedule will be as-built.  From the as-built, we can collect fragnets of data within a WBS, and use on future projects instead of starting from scratch. Using original resource units v actual spent units.

Manages Project Gates/milestones to measure critical achievements throughout the project lifecycle

Once the schedule is ‘based-lined’, and logically closed, the PM can identify project Gates whereby criteria will be 100% prior to this gate.  Extracting data from as-built projects will help identify these more accurately. 

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