Project Scope Baseline Explained: What is it, how to Create it & Why it’s Important

Esther Mayer
December 6, 2022
4 minute read

What is a Project Scope Baseline? 

The scope baseline is defined as a documented agreement of a project’s scope, approved by its stakeholders. 

Why do you need it? What exactly does it entail? And is it really worth the time and effort?

If any of these questions came to mind when you saw this blog title, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog, we’re going to define:

  •  Why a project scope baseline is important
  •  The three components of a project scope baseline
  •  How to create a project scope baseline
  •  Some scope baseline examples

Going in order of the points above, let’s get crystal clear on what is a scope baseline, what exactly a scope baseline includes, and some scope baseline project management techniques.

Here we go!

 

Why is a project scope baseline important?

Picture this: Your agency is mid-way through a project and everything seems to be sailing along just fine. Then, you get a call from the client. They would like to go with a different strategy for the ad campaign that your team has already spent hours working on. 

What now?

Here’s another common scene: As the project manager, you’re getting the feeling that the project budget for your current project is fast being used up, yet you’re not sure on what, or by whom.

What do you do?

This is why creating a scope baseline statement is so important. Your scope baseline is your project's security guard. With it, you, and all stakeholders know exactly what is included in the project, what the budget is, and how it is to be spent. Without it, you won’t know how to deal with scope change requests, your team will be confused, and you can easily go over budget AND not even realize it.

Okay, so we know that a scope baseline is indispensable. Now, we need to define the scope baseline components. So…

 

What are the three components of a project scope baseline?

A scope baseline is composed of an approved scope statement, a WBS, and a WBS dictionary.

  • Scope Statement- An all-inclusive project breakdown, including all tasks and deliverables.

  • Work Breakdown Structure- A breakdown of deliverables into micro tasks.

  • WBS Dictionary- The WBS dictionary corresponds with the WBS, breaking the deliverables down into even smaller tasks.

Now that we know what the scope baseline includes, let’s discuss:

 

How to create a project scope baseline

  • Define scope statement: This includes project goals (including assumptions that drive these goals), deliverables, objectives, and constraints (like time and budget).

  • Get stakeholders to approve scope statement: Stakeholders include internal and external members. If, as often happens, the scope statement needs to be changed mid-project, you’ll rewrite the scope statement and get it re-approved by stakeholders.


 

  • Define the WBS: This is typically arranged in a hierarchical structure, starting with the key deliverables, then branching off into various tasks.

  • Define the WBS dictionary: This further breakdown of the WBS, documents who’s responsible for what and enumerates project tasks in great detail. Although this can be a tedious task, it saves a great deal of  time and confusion later on.


 

  •  Get WBS and WBS dictionary approved: This approval will need to be obtained from different people, depending on the project. Usually, however, you’ll need the approval of the project sponsor and the project steering committee.

  • Share Project Scope Baseline: Once you have the scope statement, WBS, and WBS dictionary approved, you have your scope baseline. The next step is to share it with stakeholders so that everyone can see the bigger picture and know where they, in particular, stand in the project.

 

What is an example of a project scope baseline?

Here’s an example to put things into context:

Let’s imagine an event planning company that has a major wedding coming up.

Their project scope statement would include:

  • Arranging the venue
  • Arranging the food
  • Booking a photographer
  • Booking makeup artists
  • Etc.

It would also include any objectives and constraints.

Then, they would create their WBS. This would include key deliverables, like venue and food, broken down into micro tasks.

The WBS dictionary would confirm further details, like who is in charge of which tasks.

 

Wrapping it Up

A scope baseline gives a project the best start it could have. Creating a project scope baseline, however, is only half the battle. To be sure that you won’t be accosted by scope creep mid-project, you need to ensure scope baseline maintenance. This involves consistently measuring actual project metrics against the project scope baseline. If this isn’t done, the scope baseline is pretty pointless-the people need to know what’s written on the paper for it to be effective. 

The question is: how exactly do you go about measuring a current project against a scope baseline?

Ahh, well here’s where Workamajig becomes your best friend…

 

How can Workamajig help with your project scope baseline?

With Workamajig’s all-inclusive project management software, keeping up with your project scope baseline becomes a breeze. That’s because Wormajig's real-time, super easy-to-understand metrics, give you a full view of your project's health, measured against your baseline. Here are just a few of the things Workamajig does to enable you to pull off project after project, with easy success, every time.

Workamajig allows you to:

  • Know the full story with a real-time daily feed of all updates across projects
  • Budget or timeline at risk? See all items needing attention in one place with project warnings

 

  • Easily view and manage the exact resources, hours, and budgets for new projects

  • Visualize project tasks, dependencies and complete timelines with built-in Gantt charts

  • Convert approved estimates to budgets, see estimated profits & track actuals against budgets in real-time

  • Get notified of budget issues related to vendor costs & reconcile vendor invoices to easily spot discrepancies & make informed decisions.

  • Know exactly where your project stands with budget breakdowns by item, type, task or person

  • See the big picture with view, filter & drill-down options across multiple project budgets

  • Stay ahead of the curve with customizable budget status notifications & health meters

Learn more about Workamajig and see why thousands of agencies & marketing teams choose Workamajig to manage their projects, resources, tasks, accounting needs & more.

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