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We've shown companies how to lower defects rates by 25% and have a 100% pass rate on the PMP exam. Earned Value Management (EVM): A methodology that combines scope, schedule, and resource measurements to assess project performance and progress.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): A hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables.
Work Package: The work defined at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure for which cost and duration can be estimated and managed. Note: This article is the fifth in a series of articles describing Earned Value Management (EVM). When we ask our students what they think the purpose of Earned Value Management (EVM) is in a project, most simply wince and shrug their shoulders, clearly indicating it is a pain subject to be memorized and endured to pass the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification.
We are making a wild assumption in this article that the project actually followed reasonable practices in its journey from inception to the current point in the project. Placing the WBS in Microsoft Project, we see how it represents the WBS and estimated total time and cost.
We can see the indented levels in Microsoft Project represent the successive levels of WBS.
We see on all counts, we are within tolerable limits of an on-time, on-budget project even though we are slightly over-budget (found an excellent sale on audio equipment but we were suckered into a larger screened TV than planned and didn’t estimate too well on insulation, underlayment and lighting). For this project, the forecast numbers and the current state numbers will be close because of what we learned above – on-time, on-budget.
As we see from our example, each work package completed increases the earned value of our project. Companies try to implement EVM within their organization in hopes of improving project performance. Some will spew out a few formulas, others state it provides status information about a project, but most don’t understand how it ties to anything else discussed while learning project management. Only after teaching it several times and spending effort to understand it better did we see the light. We are assuming the project was conceived, determined feasible and cost-effective, and the organization’s risk-tolerance to launch the project effort. At the top in the Project Summary Task, we see Basement Den Remodeling Project just as we see it in the WBS. If we mark the work packages completed in the WBS, we can visually see the work completed versus the remaining work. They develop the documentation, train the project managers in its use, and wait for the results to come.
The first article conceptualized the current state of a project without delving into the mathematics.

Aligned with mature project practices, EVM delivers valuable insight into a project and gives guidance for correcting wayward projects.
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Fundamental project management practices must be in place such as proper portfolio management providing solid project selection methodologies, project charter development so project managers understand the purpose and authorization of projects, formal scope development with robust requirements, work breakdown structure decomposition, and so forth. It illustrated many of us practice EVM without necessarily calculating the formulas and results. The third article defined the mathematics behind the current project state conceptual model of the first article.
The second article showed how we forecast a project in our heads without running the numbers.
The fourth article put the mathematics behind the second article’s conceptual model for forecasting the project. The third article applied the mathematical model to concept of determining the current state of the project. In this paper we argue that successful implementation of EVM is closely linked to a development of an organisations project management maturity.Barriers to Wider Use of EVABased on research with PMI and APM seminars we can identify the barriers to adoption of EVM as being focus around the three elements of process, people and systems and the implementation of the fundamental principles of basic project management.
This article provides the bigger picture of Earned Value Management within the context of the overall project.
In summary these barriers are:Embedded processes to establish project scope, define realistic but challenging norms based plans, rules assessing progress and effective control of project change are all vital processes that must be in place to support the implementation of EVM. The fourth article added the mathematics to the forecasting model described in article two. Without these fundamental processes then the earned value data will soon lose consistency and soon become discredited.People within the organisation need the aptitude, training and discipline to implement effective EVM. We concluded the series by describing how EVM applies to real-world applications if the projects are developed using proper practices, especially the work breakdown structure. They need the ability and training required to understand and use the data produced, they need to be familiar with the jargon used and trust it to make decisions. Some project managers see the increased visibility provided by EVM as a threat to there ability to manage the clients and their own senior managers expectations. Data needs to be provided within an understood context.The systems which support EVM need to be fed with high quality baseline data with integrate cost and time information within the plan and accurate and timely cost information in a structure consistent with the project Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS).
The latter of these often requires an interface to the organisations finance systems and possible modification to coding structures.During the workshop we identified many potential barriers and aids to the implantations of earned value in organisations.
In particular the following key elements need to be in place for each stage of the project control cyclePlan the WorkThe plans used for EVM need to implement key elements of good practice.
They must integrate cost and time information through a resource and cost loaded Gantt chart.

The work packages within this plan must be integrated with the CBS against which we are going to track costs. Finally it is useful if a rolling wave approach is used to development the detail within the plan a stage by stage.Work the PlanIt is a basic tenet of project management that we work in accordance with the plan, but in many organisations this can be a real challenge, either because the plan lacks credibility, buy-in or commitment from the project team.
For these reason many individuals or teams execute tasks in different sequences from the planned activities, complete work not included within the plan or ignore it all together.
Detailed integrated baseline review of the project plan before baseline can ensure that the team has a detailed understanding of the project plan and iron out difficulties before implementation starts.Measure ProgressProgress can be measured or estimated in several ways, from measurement of physically completed work to estimating the work left to complete. To effectively implement EVM we need defined rules for assessment of progress on work types and these need to be understood and adhered to across the organisation.
For example for a design or software project we might make a rule that activities only earn value once they are complete and which point they earn all the value associated with that task.Take corrective action and manage changeUncontrolled or sluggish control of change can cause major problems for the implementation of EVM. Completing activities not shown on the plan, changes in scope or changes to the sequence of activities need to be captured and incorporated into the baseline through an efficient change control system. So the question remains as to what level of maturity is required to successfully implement EVM?The Project Management Maturity ModelA Project Management Maturity meets these needs, drawing on established concepts from existing models such as the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) from Carnegie-Mellon Software Engineering Institute and the Business Excellence Model from the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM). Project Mangement Maturity describes four levels of increasing project management capability, termed NaA?ve, Novice, Normalised, and Natural.
Management processes are repetitive and reactive, with little or no attempt to learn from the past or to prepare for future threats or uncertainties.At Level 2, the Novice project management organisation has begun to experiment with project management, usually through a small number of nominated individuals, but has no formal or structured generic processes in place. Although aware of the potential benefits of managing projects, the Novice organisation has not effectively implemented project management processes and is not gaining the full benefits.The level to which most organisations aspire when setting targets for management of projects is captured in Level 3, the Normalised project management organisation.
At this level, management of projects is built into routine business processes and project management is implemented across all aspects of the business.
Generic project management processes are formalised and widespread, and the benefits are understood at all levels of the organisation, although they may not be fully achieved in all cases.Many organisations would probably be happy to remain at Level 3, but we can define a further level of maturity in project management processes, termed the Natural project management organisation (Level 4). Here the organisation has a fully project-based culture, with a proactive approach to project management in all aspects of the business.
With a mature organisation then the changes required to implement EVM should be relatively painless giving increased levels of confidence in the project delivery capability.ConclusionsEVM offers project management the promises of significant benefits, however very few project managers have adopted it because of significant barriers within their organisations. In addition, to enable really effective decision making EVM needs a maturity of understanding and support by Senior Managers. Learn More About Parallel Training CoursesCourses including: APM, PMI, PRINCE2, distance learning or face to face courses.

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