An Integrated Baseline Review (IBR) is a critical part of the planning process for a project and will be required for projects that have an Earned Value requirement from the U.S. Federal Government. Because of this relationship between the Earned Value requirement and the requirement for an IBR, sometimes it is misinterpreted to be an “Earned Value” meeting, but it is much more than that.
An IBR is a review of the project’s baseline (cost, schedule and technical) with the intent of achieving a mutual understanding of the plan for accomplishing the scope of work, what assumptions were used in the planning, how the performance is going to be managed and, most importantly, where risks to accomplishing the scope on time and on budget are.
It is important to point out the words “mutual understanding” in the sentence above. This does not mean that everyone will be 100% in agreement coming out of the IBR or that it is some kind of project Kumbaya moment, it won’t be. However, if you come out of the IBR with both sides having an understanding of what the others expectations and assumptions are, and where the risks are, you will avoid many problems down the line.
To achieve this you need to do more than review and interview a project’s Control Account Managers (CAM) about Contract Performance Report (CPR) data the processes used to generate that data. You need to drill in and understand the logic of the schedule, validate durations, understand staffing plans, explore the technical challenges associated with the work and what the mitigation plans for dealing with any of the risks if they should come to fruition.
To do all of that takes more than one or two Project Management Office folks grilling CAMs in front of a full room. It requires the whole project team, technical leads, project controls, project management and stake holders to put the time and effort into preparing for and executing a successful IBR. Your projects future performance will reap the benefits of a well-executed IBR as it sets the context for how all project stakeholders understand a project’s performance going forward.
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