EVMS Variance Analysis — EVMS Analysis and Management Reports

by Humphreys & Associates on April 2, 2015

A Variance Analysis Report (VAR) that includes specific information about the cause, impact, and corrective action “provides management with early insight into the extent of problems and allows corrective actions to be implemented in time to affect the future course of the program” [reference: NDIA, PMSC EVMS Intent Guide] . Unfortunately, variance analysis is an easy target for criticism during EVMS reviews. There are many examples of inadequate variance analysis to choose from but what they all have in common is the lack of specific information on the why, what, how, when and who.

The variance analysis reporting requirements are found in the EIA-748 Guidelines in Section IV., Analysis and Management Reports, Guidelines 22-27.

EIA-748 Guidelines
Section IV. Analysis and Management Reports
22 2-4a Control Account Monthly Summary, Identification of CV and SV
23* 2-4b Explain Significant Variances | Earned Value Management
24 2-4c Identify and Explain Indirect Cost Variances
25 2-4d Summarize Data Elements and Variances thru WBS/OBS for Management
26* 2-4e Implement Management Actions as Result of EVM Analysis
27* 2-4f Revise EAC Based on Performance Data; Calculate VAC

The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) considers 16 of the 32 guidelines high-risk or foundational. This means that if the requirements of those Guidelines are not met, thus considered noncompliant, the Earned Value Management System may not produce accurate, reliable and auditable data such that it provides the customer with the information necessary to reliably manage a program. Three of the Management Analysis and Reporting guidelines fall into the high risk category: 23*, 26*, and 27*. Consequently, these guidelines are an important area during EVMS reviews. (More information about foundational guidelines: EVM Systems – The 16 Foundational Guidelines.)

A VAR that includes specific information and data about a problem will allow management to make informed decisions and mitigate project risk. Getting specific about variance analysis reporting includes the following elements.

Overall:

• Emphasis on the quantitative not qualitative
• Emphasis on the specific, not the general
• Emphasis on significant problems, not all problems
• Define abbreviations and acronyms at first use
• The Control Account Manager (CAM) is the most knowledgeable person to write the variance analysis report but will need information from the business support team

Cause:

• Isolate significant variances
• Discuss cost and schedule variances separately
• Clearly identify the reason (root cause) for the variance (ties to the corrective action plan)
• Clear, concise explanation of the technical reason for the variance
• Provide cost element analysis

o Labor – hours, direct rates, skill mix, overtime (rate & efficiency)
o Material – unplanned requirements, excess quantities, unfavorable prices (price & usage)
o Subcontracts – changing requirements, additional in-scope work, schedule changes
o Other Direct Costs – unanticipated usage, in-house vendor
o Overhead (indirect) – direct basis, rate changes

• Identify what tasks are behind schedule and why;

Impact:

• Describe specific cost, schedule and technical impact on the project
• Project future control account performance (continuing problem)
• Address effect on immediate tasks, intermediate schedules, critical path, driving paths, risk mitigation tasks
• Describe erosion of schedule margin, impacts to contractual milestones or delivery dates, and when the schedule variance will become zero
• Describe any impact to other control accounts
• Assess the need to revise and provide rationale for the Estimate at Completion (justify ETC realism – CPI to TCPI comparison, impacts of corrective action plan, risk mitigation, open commitments, staffing changes, etc.)
• Note: If there is a root cause, there will be an impact. It could be related to cost, schedule, lessons learned to be applied to future activity, an update required to a process to support the corrective action or a re-prioritization of resources to meet a schedule;

Corrective Action Planning:

• Describe specific actions being taken or to be taken to alleviate or minimize the impact of the problem
• Include the individual or organization responsible for the required action
• Include schedules for the actions and estimated completion dates (ECD)
• If no corrective action possible, explain why
• Include results of corrective action plans in previous VARs.

Ask yourself, is the analyses presented in a manner that is understandable? Does the data support the narrative? Does the variance explanation provide specifics of:

why” the problem occurred,
what” is impacted now or in the future,
how” the corrective action is being taken,
when” the corrective actions will occur,
when” the schedule variance will become zero, and
who” is responsible for implementing the corrections?

Remember, a well developed Variance Analysis Report reduces the risk of a Corrective Action Request (CAR) during an EVMS review.

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