27 October 2009

Earned Value Management

As a follow-on to yesterday's post, I'd like to say a few words in praise of something called Earned Value Management (aka EVM).

EVM is basically a way of measuring progress in terms of actual work accomplished, not simply in terms of the number of discrete tasks that have been marked Done. It seems to me that EVM is just another word for honest accounting.

It boggles the mind that a project leader would use anything other than EVM to measure, assess and report progress towards their goals.

Some people try to say it's too complicated, too cumbersome and frankly too dang hard to do EVM. I've also heard that EVM isn't well suited for small projects, but in fact there are ways to do simple implementations, without relying on excessive overhead. For that matter, the simple implementations can probably be useful even on big projects.

Now, applying EVM to certain types of research projects, where future work paths are unknown, requires a slightly different tack... but it's possible to use some of the principles even in this area.

EVM - it's not just for breakfast anymore. Check it out!


Phil said...

@Dan ... hope my comment didn't come across as a negative ... I'm a huge fan of EVM. It's a very powerful tool, especially when used correctly. I'm constantly asking our less experienced PMs to give me a status and explain in their own words. Tough skill they must learn. Related to yesterday's post, a tough part of EVM analysis is dealing with easy work packages compared to the hard word packages. As you know, bad things happen when that last 10% is the toughest part of the project.

The Dan Ward said...

@Phil - no, not at all! And I should admit I wrote this week's worth of posts over the weekend, so subsequent posts aren't the result of earlier comments. :)

Anyway, you're right that experienced people make all the difference. And hopefully EVM (when used properly) helps identify some of those harder / longer-duration work packages...