“Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.” – Edward Berard
Baseline means ‘A Line which is the Base’. The word baseline may refer to surveying, typography, budgeting, pharmacology, Configuration Management, calculations etc.
In an IT industry, baseline mainly implies
- A Configuration Baseline – A configuration of software, hardware or a process that is established and documented as a point of reference
- A Process Performance Baseline (PPB) – A datum used as the basis for calculation or comparison
As and when a work product is created and ready for review, it should be labeled as ‘ready for review v0.9’. (The version number may change based on the project’s strategy). And at the same time the work product should be available in the configuration tool. Once the review, rework and verification are completed the work product is ready for approval. There should be an identified approving authority for each work product. After the approval, the work product is baselined. (The baseline string can be ‘baselined v1.0’). Whenever a change is triggered in the work product, initially an impact analysis is triggered. Impact analysis helps to understand the change in cost, schedule, competency requirements, affected work products etc. The Change Control Board (as defined in the project plan) should approve the change in order to update the work product. After update, the work product undergoes review, approval and baselining process ( If the change is a minor, the review process can be skipped as defined in the project plan). The baseline string can be ‘baselined v1.1’or ‘baselined v2.0’depending on whether the change is a minor or major. All the change requests should be recorded and tracked for future reference.
If there is no configuration management, many people have to work on a work product that is altering. It creates copy-over problem, which causes versions of files to be lost. The number of uncontrolled copies of files makes it difficult to determine where the latest version really exists or not.
A configuration baseline is the configuration of a service, product or infrastructure that has been formally reviewed and approved, that thereafter can be changed only through formal change mechanisms.
Process Performance Baseline
Project data is recorded in the organizational metric repository. And from the data, performance baselines are created, in most cases the center line and upper and lower control limits from a control chart on that process execution. These baselines are used as a benchmark for comparing actual process performance against expected process performance and are revisited over a defined frequency.
These baselines are used
- In project estimation process
- While setting Objectives for the project
- As inputs to the process performance models
Baseline helps to monitor current project performance and also to improve the accuracy of future estimates.
A Configuration baseline shows the current state of a configuration item while a Process Performance Baseline shows the current performance of a process.