Baselines are a means to measure your progress on the projects that you have to handle. Indeed, learning how to come up with baselines and assess if things are going smoothly is essential if you want to develop your leadership skills. This is because, even with careful planning, some things can still come up and throw you and your team off without warning. Additionally, there’s no way for any of you to know if you’re still on the right track if you have nothing to go back to for reference.
That being said, going about preparing a baseline with measurable rubrics can be difficult. It involves plenty of research and refinement, however as the well-detailed baseline is crafted, the easier it will be for everyone to go back to it from time to time. But what exactly makes a baseline so essential in project management and why is having one so effective?
Common Problems You May Encounter Without a Baseline
An assessment can only be effective if there is baseline data to better define the progress or impact that a certain factor has. Moreover, managing a project without a baseline can negatively affect the scope, budget and schedule of the project.
Generally speaking, it is usually a good idea to take all of these factors into account. This information can give your team a better understanding of what went wrong and what can be done to fix it. Conversely, working without a baseline can cause various aspects of the project to easily get out of control.
Teams that plan projects without a baseline often run into monitoring and quality management problems along the way. Small issues that go unnoticed can quickly morph into big oversights that can vastly affect timelines and available resources. The lack of a baseline can also result in delays or even cause your team to have insufficient means to complete the project.
Whether your goal is to change a team member’s behaviour or improve their overall performance, some reliable data from the past is needed to make a constant comparison to what is presently happening. This is why having a baseline matters in any project.
Benefits of Having a Baseline
In addition to addressing the above problems, a project baseline can help you effectively measure the quality of progress in any given project. Moreover, the end value of the project can be calculated with ease. It is also a lot easier to analyse the data to come up with accurate predictions of possible outcomes and problems for future projects.
Additionally, creating and referencing a baseline can provide many advantages to leaders and their teams. For one thing, estimates on how well or how badly the project is doing will become more accurate. This, in turn, can help managers gain better insight into what works and what doesn’t. It can also help you and your team pinpoint problems and come up with solutions that are more time- and cost-effective.
How to Effectively Collect Baseline Information
Without reliable data in your baseline, it might not be as helpful as you need it to be. A baseline has to be thorough and descriptive to help you recognise and address certain problems in the project before it is too late to fix them. However, a comprehensive baseline can only be created when you put it through a pretest, the main study, and a review.
Starting with your survey tool, you need to ensure that it is relevant to the project, properly contextualised and easy for people to use. Adjust it accordingly before proceeding with the main study.
The main study for baseline data collection must be done by trained surveyors who can meticulously carry out the study. They need to be aware of the pretest findings during their training stage so that they can gather the right data needed for the baseline. It is also important to closely monitor the surveyors while they work, as the information they collect will be used for future analysis. Though it’s not always possible to monitor surveyors in real-time, a back check is a great alternative for that.
To properly sift through the gathered data and hold the surveyors accountable for any errors, a back check must be done. This can be conducted by making the enumerators complete a form and survey while they are collecting data to ensure that they are doing quality work. Be sure to include the same questions from the main study to cross-check everyone’s answers. Performing a back check can also help your team gather data from a sample of your audience that is representative of your baseline.
Baselines are indispensable and useful tools that can help track progress, keep your team motivated, and ensure that you always meet the requirements of your clients. By putting in the time and effort to create a detailed baseline, you can identify and overcome any challenges before they have a chance to derail the whole project.
If you need to start creating baselines for your company and don’t know where to start, then get in touch with Justine Maree Cox today.