Configuration Management Baseline Definitions

By Steve Easterbrook, CMPIC LLC

According to the dictionary: base·line is "a minimum or starting point used for comparisons".

According to EIA-649B 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."

According to the CMMI and many other CM standards: "Configuration Baseline - The configuration information formally designated at a specific time during a product’s or product component’s life." Ok, they all look about the same.

However, according to EIA-649B principle CI-12: "The configuration of any product, or any document, plus the approved changes, is the current baseline.”

According to the CMMI: "Configuration baselines plus approved changes from those baselines constitute the current configuration information.”

And most other CM Standards: "Configuration baselines plus approved changes from those baselines constitute the current configuration.”

So the issue is this:

EIA-649B states there is a "current baseline", which is the original plus approved changes. That means every time there is a change, you have a new baseline. All other standards establish the baseline as the original starting point, i.e. there is no new baseline, only that the baseline plus approved changes is the current configuration information.

For example, when you go on a diet, your weight at the start of the diet is the baseline. If you weigh yourself the day after the first measurement, you do not establish a new baseline; what you have a day later is your current weight. And if you deduct that from your baseline measurement you know how much weight was lost.

My View: A baseline plus approved changes does not equal a "current baseline". A baseline is an agreed upon starting point for measurement and control. There is no such thing as a "current baseline".

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