Ever wonder what the difference is between an IBR (Integrated Baseline Review) and a JSR (Joint Surveillance Review)? It is not just how they are spelled. Both reviews can be required if you are working on a project or program that has an Earned Value requirement and both can be conducted by the same group (i.e. DCMA, Acquisition Program Office, Prime Contractor or other review office). Moreover, while both include assessments of the Earned Value process, the primary objective of the reviews differ.
Integrated Baseline Review
The Integrated Baseline Review focus is on understanding what the plan is, how good that plan is and how well the contractor can report progress on the plan (the process aspect of an IBR). To pass an IBR you need to show not only that you have a plan and the processes in place to manage the execution of that plan, but that your plan is achievable. Expect to be grilled on your ability to achieve that plan. This includes understanding the resource levels, staffing, budgets and schedule associated with the plan. All of this is to help drive an understanding of the assumptions used in developing the plan and the risks associated with its execution.
Joint Surveillance Review
A Joint Surveillance Review is more focused on what the processes are for managing a project execution, how well they are being adhered to and how closely they are aligned to the ANSI-748 Standards. This review will look at the baseline and the performance against it to identify process issues. You should expect the JSR to be more process focused than the IBR, hence the questions during the Control Account Manager (CAM) interviews to include more questions that are hypothetical about different scenarios that may arise, and how the CAM would go about handling them. Like the IBR, project risks are important to a JSR, but the emphasis is more about how risks are handled versus identifying, qualifying and quantifying risks to the execution.
When IBRs And JSRs Occur
Another area the two reviews differ is in their timing. The IBR’s timing aligns with major project milestones such as Contract Award, Major Milestone completion or major changes in the project. A JSR should be conducted on a regular timeframe (usually annually) or when issues are identified based on ongoing surveillance of project artifacts.
Both reviews are important for a project and play a part in successful project management, but it is important to understand how the two reviews differ and what you should expect out of both. Sometimes you may see an IBR devolve to being an Earned Value process review if the facilitators do not know better. This is where you hear the assumptions voiced that the IBR is an “Earned Value” meeting. This is a missed opportunity for both parties if this happens. While processes are vital to execution, understanding assumptions and risks are paramount to successful management of a project.