How to Baseline Project Scope

Learn about project baselines in this video with our host Jennifer Bridges, PMP. You’ll hear about how to define scope and create a baseline.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

Baselining Project Scope

In Review: How to Baseline Project Scope

In this video, Jennifer talked about baselines and what they mean for your project. Baselines allow you to set a comparative performance standard for your project to measure planned versus actual dates. There are two simple steps to baselining your project:

  • Define the scope; and
  • Approve the scope.

Sound overly simple? Well, if you don’t have a project scoped, you can’t begin to measure any real progress, if scheduling is a concern (which for most projects where time and money and resources are at stake, it is.) You’ll want to document the scope of the project in a scope statement that includes the major deliverables, assumptions and constraints. You can also use a work breakdown structure (WBS) in this step which breaks down the deliverables into further detail. Together, they give you the information you need to build the schedule and estimate the cost.

Then you can get the scope approved by the key stakeholders or the Change Control Board. If they agree that the scope meets the objectives of the project they will approve it, and that becomes the baseline for the project.

Baselines are used to monitor and track the project. As Jennifer said, a baseline can truly mean the difference between a successful or a failed project.

Pro Tip: In your scheduling software, you can usually generate a report for planned and actual tasks, gives you everything you need to produce baselines and keep your project on track. If a project is well out of scope, it might be necessary to re-baseline the project, rather than let it get away from you.

If you want to know other ways in which you can keep your project on track, read CEO Jason Westland’s article Ways to Avoid Scope Creep.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the two simple components of a project baseline.

Thanks for watching!

Video Transcription

Hello, everyone. Today, we’re talking about how to baseline your project scope.

To me, the most powerful word in the project management dictionary is “baseline.” Because, baseline can truly mean the difference between a successful or a failed project. People ask, “What does it mean to baseline and how do I do it?”

There are two simple steps.

Number one, we have to define the scope first. In order to define it, we document it. We document it in a scope statement. The scope statement, again, is a description of the scope; what we are producing as a result of this project. Again, it’s the project scope and also includes the major deliverables we’re going to be producing during and as a result of the project. It also includes assumptions and constraints of the project that may or may not impact the scope.

We take the scope statement along with the work breakdown structure, because the work breakdown structure takes the work at a high level and then it continues to break it down into further detail. Those details of the work packages are what we use to build the schedule and estimate the cost. It’s very important. We use the work breakdown structure dictionary which is a more detailed description of each of these work packages.

Define the scope, then we approve it. How do we approve it, and who approves it? Who approves it are the stakeholders. Generally, it’s one stakeholder or multiple stakeholders. It depends on the size of the project. That’s usually called our Change Control Board. The Change Control Board uses the documented change control processes for that project or that organization. They use that and they take the scope, and they review it and make sure it’s agreed upon and that it meets all of the objectives. If there are any changes, they do it at that time. Once they approve it then, voilà, that’s our baseline. The baseline is used to monitor and track the project all along the way.

If you need a tool that can help you baseline your project scope, then sign up for our software now at

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