A baseline cycle begins with the gathering of a preserved collection of data extracted at a given time prior to a change; this data is analysed to develop insights early on in the project journey.
It is one-half of two bookends, the other being Re-baselining, wherein the original baseline is revisited and the data used for comparison to demonstrate progress against expectations to the team and stakeholders. This ensures value has been added in-line with group expectations.
Why is it used?
The baseline becomes the answer to the ‘So what?’ question, validating the need to undertake a transformation.
When discussing baselining, it is essential to tie-together a teams’ ability to validate benefits to the business through validation; which occurs incrementally in the case of an Agile deployment, or following Go-Live when referring to Waterfall implementations.
When is it helpful?
As it suggests, the Baseline Cycle straddles both beginning and end of a project lifecycle. This data is used to assess the potential benefits and highlights symptoms of root-causes which may be being addressed through the project.
How is it applied?
There are multiple types of Baseline, and depending on the requirements of the project, some will be more relevant than others.
A common feature across all though is the requirement for measures to be agreed-on; i.e. which metrics should be tracked – be they quantitative (scorecard-based) or qualitative (narrative based).
Some examples of what a Baseline might contain:
Requirement documents and all of the requirements in them; e.g. features and tests.
Key business process data and associated process and data models.
Value Stream Map or a data driven Customer Lifecycle Maps . On particularly large and complex projects it is not unusual for a third-party to run both baselining and validation in order to amplify and validate project benefits.
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