A Practical Guide to Earned Value Project Management Review

A Practical Guide to Earned Value Project Management
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There are a number of reasons that you might choose to use an Earned Value Management System-it's required for government contracts, it can be used to show compliance to the Sarbanes-Oxley requirement for "disclosure controls and procedures", or to advance to the next level in your organization's Capability Maturity Model-and if you need a helpful and practical guide then this is the book for you.The authors do an excellent job of getting to the intent behind Earned Value by focusing on the 32 criteria for EVMS spelled out in the official standard: ANSI/EIA-748-1998.Any approach that follows these 32 criteria is, by definition, an EVMS. This is a key point and highlights that not all companies require the same system, methods, or tools to create a valid and valuable EVMS.

This focus on the intent behind Earned Value is a constant theme throughout the book and is one of the things that sets it apart from other books on the subject. They also cover a number of common pitfalls to EVMS implementations, such as trying to create a "one size fits all" system that goes into way too much detail but provides minimal (if any) additional value.It also strongly cautions against using EVMS as the only means of managing projects by pointing out several of the major shortcomings in Earned Value variance reports and the use of SPI and CPI. Through descriptions and examples the book emphasizes how EV can be extremely useful when used in conjunction with other project management best practices. For example, from page 57,
"Although EV can provide some objective measures of performance, the dollar-aggregated project measurements can point neither to specific areas of good or poor performance nor to their cause."
The book also cautions against using EV metrics to drive short term actions, pointing out that the metrics do not differentiate between Common and Special causes of variation and can lead to what Dr. Deming called "tampering" on the part of management.

An example of the book's breadth and insight is in the coverage of EVMS Criteria 19-"Record all indirect costs which will be allocated to the contract." Four different allocation methods are described: Direct, Step-Down, Reciprocal, and Activity-Based Costing.There are descriptions and examples of each as well as special cautions against using any allocation method that confounds fixed and variable costs. This section is not intended to make the project manager an expert in accounting, but it will give the project manager an insight into what questions to ask those providing them financial support. This type of multi-functional linkage, with references, is found throughout the book. Likewise, there are a number of example calculations throughout the book covering the difference aspects of EV.

The book discusses how EVMS relates to waterfall and spiral development models and discusses the April 2005 "Earned Value Management Implementation Guide" from the Defense Acquisition University.Again, it reinforces that there is no "universal" EVMS system, nor does EVMS mandate or require any particular management system.This leads to what I consider to be one of the book's most important contributions-along with conventional Critical Path approaches it specifically discusses the use of EV in conjunction with Critical Chain Project Management, pointing out that EVMS and CCPM are completely compatible.Those looking for a precise guide on how to operate Earned Value and Critical Chain together will not find it here; that sort of detail would go against the book's focus on the intent behind the details. Instead, as the entire book reinforces, understanding the intent of EVM will help you create a compatible approach that best matches your situation. And that, ultimately, is of far greater value than following someone else's detailed implementation recipe.

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Product Description:
Now you don't have to know accounting to understand and reap the benefits of earned value project management. In one convenient resource, "A Practical Guide to Earned Value Project Management" spells out everything you need to know to use this highly effective project management tool. First you'll get an overview of the earned value management system (EVMS) and how it's used. Then you'll take a look at the 32 criteria - and learn how each corresponds with successful project management. Next, you'll move through the lifecycle of a sample project to see how the components of the earned value system are applied. Along the way, you'll learn how to: Interpret and use the earned value management system to manage your projects; Compute variances that are more meaningful to project owners and project teams; Design reports and graphs with more valuable information; Address unfavorable earned value metrics; Compare projects to better understand which ones are doing well, which are in trouble, and which need to go. With "A Practical Guide to Earned Value Project Management," you'll gain an understanding of the EVMS, develop skills for using the system yourself, and learn techniques for meeting EVMS criteria - everything you need to complete projects successfully! Table of Contents: Introduction: Background and Motivation...Project Management · Preparing to Use EVMS: Earned Value Project Management: An Overview...Implementing EVMS · It's All in the Plan: The Project Plan (Criterion 1)...The Organization (Criteria 2-5)...The Schedule (Criteria 6-8)...The Budget (Criteria 9-15) · Project Status: Tracking Performance (Criteria 16-21)...Reporting Variances (Criteria 22-27) · Handling a Project's Changes and Termination: Time for a Change (Criteria 28-32) · Are We There Yet? · Epilogue

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