Class 110: Baseline Schedules

October 28, 2021 0 Comments


A baseline schedule is a fixed project schedule that is the standard by which project performance is measured.1 It captures how the project team plans to execute a project in alignment with contractual requirements. Baseline schedules forecast a project’s duration prior to incorporating any real time issues like late material deliveries, inclement weather, slow/poor workmanship, etc. The real-time issues are captured in updated schedules which can be compared to the baseline schedule to reveal variances. However, most baseline schedules reflect contractual contingency time in activity durations to account for common project delays.

Example of a Baseline Schedule:

The example above shows a typical construction schedule for a high-end mixed-use skyscraper. The baseline schedule captures the planning and sequencing that must take place before construction begins. Construction projects are complex, so creating a baseline schedule to outline the original plan for the project is an important step. As the project progresses and changes are made to the schedule, the schedule is updated and can be compared to the baseline schedule. Baseline schedules are often represented in the gantt chart as a thin yellow line underneath the updated schedule’s activities or a yellow diamond underneath a milestone, as in the example above. A baseline schedule compared to an updated schedule provides a quick view of variances to activity start and finish dates.

Why are Baseline Schedules Important?

Baseline schedules typically incorporate the established contractual schedule requirements.  This allows the project team to develop an efficient sequence of work for all subcontractors to follow.

Baseline schedules can be included in forensic reviews of a project when trying to determine the impact project events have on completion milestones. Often a baseline schedule comparison in a forensic delay analysis can identify events that trigger delay or work that has been re-sequenced.

When using certain software, a baseline schedule compared to an updated schedule helps analysts identify activities that were added to the schedule after the latest baseline was created, which can indicate a possible change order or delay event.

Baseline Schedule Summary:

1.    Critical contractual dates are typically incorporated in the baseline schedule.

2.    Baseline schedules can help identify schedule delays as the project progresses and schedule updates are performed.

Key Terms:

Update Schedule a dynamic version of the baseline schedule that reflects the most current information on the project

 Gantt Chart a type of bar chart that provides a graphical representation of a schedule that includes the activities that make up a project