Cost baseline

The cost baseline is a time-phased budget that is used to measure, monitor, and control cost performance for the project. It is developed by summing the costs of the project by the time period and developing a cumula- tive cost curve that can be used to track actual performance, planned performance, and the funds spent.

A project may have multiple cost baselines; for example, the project manager may keep a separate baseline for labor or procurements. The baseline may or may not include contingency funds or indirect costs. When earned value measurements are being used, the baseline may be called the performance measurement baseline.

The cost baseline can receive information from:

  • Scope baseline
  • Cost management plan
  • Cost estimates
  • Project schedule
  • Resource management plan
  • Risk register
  • Agreements (contracts)

It provides information to:

  • Project management plan
  • Risk register

The cost baseline is an output from process 7.3 Determine Budget in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. This is developed once and is not expected to change unless there is a significant change in scope.


Tailoring tips

Consider the following tips to help tailor the cost baseline to meet your needs:

  • The cost baseline generally includes contingency reserve to account for known risks. It does not generally include management reserve. Management reserve is held above the cost baseline, but is considered part of the project budget. If your company policies differ, the reserve in your baseline may be different.
  • Your cost baseline may be displayed to show the funding constraints, funding requirements, or different sources of funding.
  • Your organization may not require a graphic display of the cost baseline; they may require a spread- sheet or internal budgeting system displays instead.



The cost baseline should be aligned and consistent with the following documents:

  • Assumption log
  • Project schedule
  • Cost estimates
  • Project team assignments
  • Risk register

The cost baseline on the following page is displayed in a form called an S-curve.