by Humphreys & Associates | June 1, 2021 10:39 pm
A previous H&A blog, “EVM (Earned Value Management) vs. Agile Project Management,” provided an introduction to the differences between an Earned Value Management System (EVMS) and Agile development methodologies.
At first glance, it may seem that EVM and Agile development methodologies are incompatible. Agile is all about rapid incremental product deliveries and responding quickly to an evolving understanding of the desired deliverable or outcome. Depending on how an EVMS is implemented, the EVMS can often seem rigid in comparison.
Can the two methodologies coexist and complement each other to create an effective integrated project management system? The answer is yes, provided you have thought through how you intend to use the two systems together and map how and where they integrate. The goal is to leverage the benefits of each system and without forcing either system to do something it wasn’t meant to do.
There is a natural top down and bottom-up process integration when defining the scope of work and acceptance criteria. This process integration continues for planning and scheduling the feature estimates of effort, establishing the budget baseline, and ultimately maintaining the estimate to complete (ETC) in the EVMS. It also supports an integrated process for measuring completed work. The Agile daily standup meetings provide current information about accomplishments and impediments at the lowest level of the project. The Agile system provides the quantifiable backup data for claiming earned value in the EVMS for performance reporting.
The following image illustrates the relationship between the two systems.
A work breakdown structure (WBS) is commonly used to organize and decompose a project’s scope of work into manageable, product-oriented elements. It is an essential communication tool for the customer and contractor so they have a common frame of reference to capture and manage requirements as well as expected deliverables or outcomes. It establishes a common basis for measuring progress and defining accomplishment criteria. It is the framework for developing a project’s schedule (timing of tasks), identifying resources to accomplish the scheduled tasks, creating cost estimates as well as the budget baseline, and identifying risks. In an EVMS, the WBS is often decomposed to the control account level which is further decomposed into work packages or planning packages. Once extended to the lower level, it provides a framework for tracking technical accomplishments, measuring completed work, and identifying variances from the original plan to complete the work.
There is a similar planning hierarchy to Agile projects – the Product Backlog is the foundation for defining the scope of work. The Product Backlog starts at the Epic or Capability level and is further defined through product planning. The process includes prioritizing the capabilities and defining the sequence of deliverables to create the Product Roadmap (timing). The capabilities are decomposed into features along with an estimate of the effort to deliver the feature. Features should include exit criteria (definition of done) and have minimal dependencies. At the lowest level, features are decomposed into Sprint Stories and related tasks forming the basis for the schedule and measuring completed work in the EVMS. As illustrated in the image above, in the Product Backlog hierarchy, an Epic/Capability relates to the control account level in the EVMS. Features relate to the work packages in the EVMS.
In an integrated environment, there can be a natural mapping between the WBS and the Product Backlog regardless of the starting point. When starting from the Agile system, the Product Backlog could be used to create the project’s WBS. The customer may also pre-define the top level WBS elements that could form the backlog structure. The DoD uses MIL-STD-881, Work Breakdown Structures for Defense Materiel Items, for this purpose so they have a set of common templates they can use across programs to capture historical actual cost data for cost estimating and should cost analysis. Even though the top level WBS elements may be pre-defined, the lower-level content can reflect an outcome based Agile structure that focuses on customer driven deliverables.
An example is illustrated here.
What’s common between the two systems? You have:
Keeping in mind you have a similar decomposition of work between the two systems, you can set up the WBS and Product Backlog to align with each other. The goal is to ensure traceability so you can easily support the EVMS requirements.
Here are a few best practices for integrating the WBS and Product Backlog.
Are your EVM and Agile systems are sharing useful information? Perhaps you have learned the hard way the WBS and Product Backlog aren’t sufficiently mapped for you to maintain traceability between the two systems. We can help. Call us today at (714) 685-1730
Source URL: https://blog.humphreys-assoc.com/earned-value-management-and-agile-integration-work-scope-as-the-foundation/
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