Project Schedule vs Schedule Baseline

3 minute read    Updated:    Harwinder Singh

Project Schedule vs Schedule Baseline for PMP Certification What’s the difference between Project Schedule and Schedule Baseline? I’ve answered this question numerous times in emails, forums and blog comments. But it keeps coming back to me. It is high time I address it in a separate post, and settle it once and for all. If you have managed projects, it shouldn’t be hard for you to understand. The difference is similar to that between you and your photograph. Puzzled? Read on.

Difference between Project Schedule and Schedule Baseline

Just like your photograph is a snapshot of you, a Schedule Baseline is a snapshot of a Project Schedule. However, it’s not an ordinary snapshot.

Schedule Baseline is an "approved" version of the Project Schedule.

Key Differences

Let’s review the key differences.

  • Project Schedule is a "living" document, whereas Schedule Baseline is "frozen".
  • Project Schedule is the "actual", whereas Schedule Baseline is the "plan".
  • Project Schedule is a Project Document, whereas Schedule Baseline is a part of the Project Management Plan.
  • Project Schedule is updated as the project is being executed, whereas Schedule Baseline is revised only as a result of an approved change request.
  • Schedule performance is measured by comparing the actual (Project Schedule) vs the baseline (Schedule Baseline).
  • At the beginning of project execution, the Project Schedule is the same as the Schedule Baseline. As work is done on the project, the actual progress is updated on the project schedule. At any given date, the latest version of the actual (project) schedule is referred to as the "Project Schedule".

Quiz on Project Schedule and Project Baseline

Now before you read further, answer the quiz below.


Quiz Stats

Update Jul 09, 2017: this quiz has been attempted by 2538 people and 2187 (86%) of them answered correctly.

Update Feb 17, 2016: this quiz has been attempted by 1760 people and 1518 (86%) of them answered correctly.


Let’s use the elimination technique to get the correct answer. You don’t touch the Schedule Baseline except for approved changes. So, that’s not the correct answer. Schedule Management Plan is a “plan” that documents the Project Schedule Management processes and their associated tools and techniques. Since it’s a plan, we can eliminate it too. Schedule Network Diagram is a schematic display of logical relationship between project schedule activities. So, that’s out as well. We are left with Project Schedule, which is indeed the right answer.

If you hear anyone asking this question again, point that person to this article. And don’t hesitate to use the Comments section below if you have further questions on this topic. Your comments enrich this blog, and I value your feedback.

Image credit: Flickr / Andrew Mason

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Missing Avatar

Sir, you are really gifted. Thank you so much for this simple explanation. It is so easy to understand the difference between these two words. You made the PMP seekers their life and study easier. May Allah bless you.


Missing Avatar

I have a question regarding this post and another post titled "Progressive Elaboration vs. Rolling wave planning".

I'm in the process of attempting to create a schedule baseline. I'm wondering how I'm suppose to use the "rolling wave planning" and still set a baseline to compare all my project actuals against later. The more detailed activities of further out work will be undefined at this point. Would I have to set another baseline as I learn more about the detailed activites required?


Harwinder Singh Avatar


Yes, your baselines would have to be revised as your plan evolves (progressively elaborated).

If an activity is not in the baselined plan, then there would be no "actuals" for that activity. Once you revise the baseline and add the activity, you should be able to compare baseline vs. actual for that activity.

Does that answer your question?

Best regards.

P.S. Sorry for the late response.

Missing Avatar

Just one questions in the context of your explanation.

If Schedule Performance is measured by comparing Project Schedule & Schedule Baseline then what is the need to put Work Performance Information as Input with Project Schedule for "Develop Schedule" process ?

Now, I am confused. What Work Performance Information really mean ?

Missing Avatar

You we should not be including the activities that are not planned in detail into the schedule baseline. But the problem is that how can we come up the project completion date if the schedule baseline is not including all the activities.

Shadi Al Khatib Avatar

Actually I did not understood so I search for the answer and found that
I am writing it again in my words

As you explain above the difference between them is correct but the schedule is progressly updated while the baseline will be updated in two cases
1. If the changes related to critical path activities
2. If the changes exceed the threshold so it lead to change to baseline otherwise the “change” will shown only in project schedule

Am I right

Harwinder Singh Avatar

That’s not the case. Any change has to go through a change approval process, and approved by a change review board. Once the change is approved and if it impacts the schedule, the schedule baseline is revised.

Lukas Avatar

I am looking for is the natural logical explanation that the Scope Baseline has a different abstraction level than the Project Schedule. For example, the Scope Baseline can contain milestones with objects to be delivered, start and end date of the milestones and project, while the Project Schedule can list additionally the individual activities for each WBS. Would means that the activities within the milestones can be changed flexibly and without change request as long the milestone objects are still meet. Because the activites are not a direct part of the Scope Baseline.

Is that correct?