Keeping the EVM Love Alive In Your Organization

by Humphreys & Associates | January 3, 2014 8:55 am

Keeping the EVM loveAdmittedly, operating an Earned Value Management System (EVMS) in an organization can sometimes be like getting your kids to the dentist.  They know they have to do it, and they will even concede that it may be good for them, but it does not mean they have to like it.

Earned Value provides a framework for integrating the cost, schedule, and technical scope of your project, and is an exceptionally valuable tool for management and project status.  There are, however, a few strategies that can be employed in order to maintain a healthy system by motivating those who operate within the system to do so with a sense of ownership.

Keeping the EVM love alive can follow the simple formula of Push, Pull and Inform.

1)   Push:  Senior Management Must Use the Data and Demand Quality

Having those up the food chain demanding accurate and timely information can be a powerful “push” that maintains interest and focuses efforts on system health and quality.  Organizations where EVM is nothing more than a reporting requirement and is not used for decision making or conveyance of project status, will have a difficult time maintaining a healthy system.  Sometimes negative attitudes towards Earned Value can even start with the customer and flow down to the contractor.

The alternative is in companies in which it is apparent that EVM is deeply embedded in the projects’ culture.  In a multitude of forums, the language of Earned Value is used to describe the status and issues of the project.  In these companies you probably will not see only the obligatory EVM charts in project reviews, but instead see the concepts and outputs of the system used throughout project management.  If poor variance analyses, inaccurate Estimates at Completions (EAC), incomplete baselines, or lack of corrective actions are challenged by the entire chain of management, then chances are those problems will stop being problems and the organizations can begin relying on the information to manage effectively.

2)    Pull:  Keep the System Useful to the Users

A great deal of resources may be invested in an EVMS, and in organizations with a healthy and useful system the return on this investment can be substantial.   Organizations that employ toolsets with timely and accessible reporting of project information help combat the belief that EVM is just a one-way reporting process.  A common interface for data is an “EVM Cockpit”, or some other tool set or reports that make the information easy to access for day-to-day management purposes.  The flip side of this are systems that make data accessibility difficult, or the problems of the system cause the data to be unreliable for prompt decision making purposes.  For example, one of the more important processes in an EVMS is variance analysis; however, when a great deal of time and effort is spent explaining variances that are not related to project performance, it becomes a significant drain on the attitude towards the system.

It is also important that the critical processes of the system are easy to use and understand.  These processes include project baselining, updates to the Estimate to Complete (ETC), statusing the Integrated Master Schedule (IMS), incorporation of changes, preparing variance analyses, and tracking of corrective actions.  Decisions regarding the architecture of the toolsets supporting these processes can significantly impact the attitudes of system users.  In addition, developing tool sets that eliminate the redundancy of data inputs between the cost and scheduling systems can dramatically improve the quality of the Earned Value data.

3)   Inform:  Regular Communication and Continuous Education to the Project Teams are Critical

Like any important management system in an organization, it is important to continually inform and support those who operate within the EVM system.  There is an endless source of special topics and project notifications that can provide useful information to project teams, which will help maintain EVM knowledge and a healthy system.  Some topics, such as preparing quality variance analysis, thorough corrective actions, and valid ETCs, need routine refreshment.

Below are a few suggestions on ways to communicate within the organization:

For more information about keeping the EVM love alive in your organization give us a call at Humphreys & Associates, Inc. We are happy to answer questions.

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