Can a Configuration Management Baseline Move?

By Steve Easterbrook, CMPIC LLC

Everyone in CM uses the term "Baseline" but there are various types of baselines. The first types of baselines (Functional, Allocated, Product) were terms coined by the US Department of Defense and were part of DoD CM standards. But the DoD did not invent the word; it has been in dictionaries forever. From a CM perspective, baseline is another term that has various meanings depending on who is defining or interpreting it. From the list of definitions below you will note the last two, SAE EIA-649B and the FHWA-OP-04-013, indicate that whatever the configuration is today represents the baseline, thus implying that a baseline can move.

However, the original intent of a baseline, in CM terms, was to document a referenceable starting point for further development, production, and/or control. In my world, a baseline does not move. Any changes to a baseline represent the current approved configuration information.

Do you agree or disagree with any of the definitions provided below? Do you think a baseline can "move"? Also, do you call your CM database which contains all of the configuration information a "baseline"? Could you explain why?



Merriam-Webster Dictionary
“4: a usually initial set of critical observations or data used for comparison or a control”
“5: a starting point "

Canceled Mil-STD-973, “Configuration Management”
“Functional Baseline - The initially approved documentation describing a system’s or item’s functional, interoperability, and interface characteristics ... Allocated Baseline - The initially approved documentation describing an item’s functional, interoperability, and interface characteristics that are allocated from those of a system or a higher level configuration item, interface requirements with interfacing configuration items, additional design constraints, ... Product Baseline - The initially approved documentation describing all of the necessary functional and physical characteristics of the configuration item and the selected functional and physical characteristics designated for production acceptance testing...”

ISO 10007, “Guidelines for Configuration Management”
"5.3.3 Configuration baselines - A configuration baseline consists of the approved product configuration information that represents the definition of the product. Configuration baselines, plus approved changes to those baselines, represent the current approved configuration. Configuration baselines should be established whenever it is necessary in the product life cycle to define a reference for further activities.”

CMMI® for Development
“Configuration Baseline - The configuration information formally designated at a specific time during a product’s or product component’s life."
"Configuration baselines plus approved changes from those baselines constitute the current configuration information.”

IEEE-828. “Configuration Management in Systems and Software Engineering”
“A software baseline is a set (one or more) of software configuration items formally designated and fixed at a specific time during the software life cycle. A baseline, together with all approved changes to the baseline, represents the current approved configuration...”

ANSI/EIA-649B, “Configuration Management”
"Principle CI-11. A baseline is established by agreeing to the definition of the attributes of a product at a point in time, and identifies a known configuration to which changes are addressed."
"Principle CI-12. The configuration of any product, or any document, plus the approved changes, is the current baseline."

FHWA-OP-04-013 Report “CM for Transportation Management Systems”
“A baseline consists of all documentation on items that are under change control, the items themselves, and all approved changes that are being made to the system.”

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