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Topics: Agile, Estimating
Does baseline has significance in Agile Scrum projects?
We use Scope, Schedule and cost baselines for traditional predictive projects.
Agile being adaptive and flexible for changes at any time, what is the significance of baselines?
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From long time, baseline has no sense in all type of projects, Agile based or not. By the way, you can apply Agile with predictive life cycle models.
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1 reply by Jesus Martheyn
Jan 04, 2019 11:30 AM
Jesus Martheyn
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Well, I disagree with you Sergio, baselines have a defined sense, it is different that some PMs and organizations do not respect them and follow the good practices.

Answering to Haresh, in Scrum we don't have defined the use of baselines, but in my point of view in both senses, traditional and agile, every agile project needs traditional management but in a high level, not inside the development team but externally. Because agility and if we want to say Scrum, does not include the whole project management, just the management for development teams.
Agree with Sergio! I don't think we can use baseline in Agile projects. In waterfall it is quite common, but can be changed based on the scope change.
This is a very interesting question, I look forward to the responses as well.

My take from what I know I would say no,simply because as you mention agile and scrum projects are adaptive and flexible, embrace changes so the need for a firm baseline may be unnecessary. This takes me back to one of my work during graduate program when I did a research paper on hybrid project management. Arguably scope, schedule and cost management can be implemented in some scrum or agile projects based on its deliverables.

I am looking forward to more insight.
You are using baselines whether you know it or not. The word comes from land surveying dating back into the 1700s. It is the first line drawn that forms the reference system for other lines. The ancient Egyptians probably had a symbol for it when they built pyramids that did not fall over. If you are not doing civil engineering, you are already using the word differently than it was meant.

There are many kinds of baselines in projects and different teams use different references. The project often has an expected timeline of some kind. You have some idea of how much money and when you expect to spend it. If you are making an improvement, there is some performance baseline to judge your changes. An individual design team might use a previous project as the baseline for their design or development plan.

Unless you are not tied to any reference point whatsoever for time, cost, performance, approach, etc. there are probably multiple significant baselines to your project. If not, there is no point in measuring anything because there is no reference system for measurement.
Jan 04, 2019 10:13 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
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From long time, baseline has no sense in all type of projects, Agile based or not. By the way, you can apply Agile with predictive life cycle models.
Well, I disagree with you Sergio, baselines have a defined sense, it is different that some PMs and organizations do not respect them and follow the good practices.

Answering to Haresh, in Scrum we don't have defined the use of baselines, but in my point of view in both senses, traditional and agile, every agile project needs traditional management but in a high level, not inside the development team but externally. Because agility and if we want to say Scrum, does not include the whole project management, just the management for development teams.
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Jan 04, 2019 1:48 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
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No problem. I am spending my extra time here to learn from comments. My point is: you can control changes without having a baseline taking into account the definition of baseline from [email protected] pointed out it (I think) in other words. You can take into account was planned and control actual and to complete without a baseline as defined by the PMI. That´s my point.
In scrum projects you "baseline" your sprint scope through the selected and agreed product backlog items in order to keep the team focused.
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1 reply by Wade Harshman
Jan 09, 2019 9:25 AM
Wade Harshman
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That's an interesting way to look at it. From that perspective, a "sprint baseline" is actually more useful in scrum than in predictive projects because:
1) the "baseline" is for a shorter duration, making it inherently more accurate than a long-term baseline with greater uncertainty
2) the team regularly reviews their performance against the "baseline"
3) the team learns from previous iterations and makes better plans for the next "baseline."


Even so, I wouldn't use the term "baseline" with a scrum team. In project management, a "baseline" has come to imply a tool used to manage projects. I, the project manager, and/or someone higher in the organization is going to use a detailed project baseline as an excuse to rain down thunderbolts from Mt. Olympus to ensure we meet a deadline or budget constraint. By contrast, a mature scrum team should be self-managing and free of overlords. They might have a sprint "baseline," but there shouldn't be anyone outside the team using this to manage their work.
Jan 04, 2019 11:30 AM
Replying to Jesus Martheyn
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Well, I disagree with you Sergio, baselines have a defined sense, it is different that some PMs and organizations do not respect them and follow the good practices.

Answering to Haresh, in Scrum we don't have defined the use of baselines, but in my point of view in both senses, traditional and agile, every agile project needs traditional management but in a high level, not inside the development team but externally. Because agility and if we want to say Scrum, does not include the whole project management, just the management for development teams.
No problem. I am spending my extra time here to learn from comments. My point is: you can control changes without having a baseline taking into account the definition of baseline from [email protected] pointed out it (I think) in other words. You can take into account was planned and control actual and to complete without a baseline as defined by the PMI. That´s my point.
...
1 reply by Jesus Martheyn
Jan 04, 2019 2:07 PM
Jesus Martheyn
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I agree with you now, even if we can manage "easier" the changes on agile, there are some guidelines written in Project Vision. I mean, we are not restricted as traditional projects to follow a change control process, but the changes implemented cannot be out of the PVS.
Jan 04, 2019 1:48 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
No problem. I am spending my extra time here to learn from comments. My point is: you can control changes without having a baseline taking into account the definition of baseline from [email protected] pointed out it (I think) in other words. You can take into account was planned and control actual and to complete without a baseline as defined by the PMI. That´s my point.
I agree with you now, even if we can manage "easier" the changes on agile, there are some guidelines written in Project Vision. I mean, we are not restricted as traditional projects to follow a change control process, but the changes implemented cannot be out of the PVS.
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3 replies by Anirudh Lungare and Sergio Luis Conte
Jan 04, 2019 2:13 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
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Not, we are restricted to follow a change control process. That is something missunderstanding when you use Agile based frameworks/methods (Scrum is a framework, not a method).Agile always have a change control process defined. For example, if you are using Scrum, no change can be considered when the sprint is running, by definition into the Scrum Guide.
Jul 30, 2022 12:15 AM
Anirudh Lungare
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I agree to your point that, baseline is useful in agile projects and that to externally or at control level. Moreover, scrum is use to manage the day-to-day work of Dev team.
Though, as per scrum framework dev team members can decompose the work into WBS and make task / sub-tasks only for the current sprint not for the future sprints. But, then how a PM can estimate the cost, and schedule baseline for project without creating WBS (task / sub-tasks) for whole project work? Furthermore, how a scrum master can decided that in how many sprints he could able to complete the project?
Request you to please reply
Aug 01, 2022 9:22 AM
Anirudh Lungare
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Jesus request you please respond to my query.
Jan 04, 2019 2:07 PM
Replying to Jesus Martheyn
...
I agree with you now, even if we can manage "easier" the changes on agile, there are some guidelines written in Project Vision. I mean, we are not restricted as traditional projects to follow a change control process, but the changes implemented cannot be out of the PVS.
Not, we are restricted to follow a change control process. That is something missunderstanding when you use Agile based frameworks/methods (Scrum is a framework, not a method).Agile always have a change control process defined. For example, if you are using Scrum, no change can be considered when the sprint is running, by definition into the Scrum Guide.
I find value in baselines with Agile. When a round of release planning is completed, that defines the plan (baseline) for the next X weeks. Story points have been determined, velocity is accounted for and the team(s) have committed to what they will produce. That for me defines a baseline for tracking progress. It can identify if a team is mis-estimating story points or velocity or if requirements were not well-defined. And if the plan does change midstream, then it changes... but you have something to measure against vs. "whatever gets done, gets done."
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