Missing Baseline Dates

“Plan your work and work your plan.”

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In this check, DCMA tests whether all tasks and milestones have baseline start and finish dates.

What are baseline dates?

When a schedule is initially written, and before work begins and changes are made to the schedule, it’s a good scheduling practice to record these original values for comparison purposes later. A conceptual “snapshot” is taken of the schedule, and this snapshot or recording is called the schedule’s baseline.

The dates that are part of this baseline (e.g., planned start, planned finish) are copied into fields that are called baseline dates (baseline start, baseline finish). Other values like duration are copied into baseline values as well.

As scope changes are formally approved to the schedule, the plan becomes out of date, and the original baseline dates become historical but, to some extent, lose their purpose. The schedule is then typically reset, and a new baseline is created. This activity is called rebaselining.

Why does DCMA check for baseline start and finish dates?

The simple answer is that they want to know that the activities in the project schedule were planned ahead of time. Schedule performance at its core asks the question: “How are you performing against your plan?” Without baseline starts and finishes, it’s challenging to gauge performance.

How does the DCMA test for missing baseline dates?

They look at the number of tasks or milestones that are missing a baseline start or finish date and divide it by the total number of tasks and milestones. This test is one of the rare checks in the schedule where DCMA considers completed tasks and milestones in its calculation.

Did the 14 Point Assessment check for missing baseline dates?

There wasn’t a separate check for missing baseline dates, but several checks require them as part of their formulas. For example, if your schedule does not have a baseline set, test #14 (Baseline Execution Index) will fail outright.

Next steps

This results of this check are fairly straightforward to correct; simply re-baseline. However, it’s important to understand the cause of the missing baseline dates, because it suggests that a process or best practice wasn’t being followed.

14 Point (partial) Analyzer