The Difficult Thing
Project EVA is too difficult! This is a common cry. Not from everyone, of course. There are always those who relish the complexities of analysis. But for a lot of project managers, Earned Value Analysis is daunting.
However, with the right motivation, Project EVA can be a friend. This motivation comes from understanding the benefits of EVA. What does it give us? What value does it add to a project? As always, this has to be communication and engagement. Peoples’ perceptions of the project are paramount!
This is not an exhaustive explanation of EVA, but just a feel for what it’s about. EVA provides a method of tracking a project accurately, but it requires certain things to be in place right from the start to work.
When defining and planning your project, it needs to be fully costed, so that the cost of executing each task is known. The project work plan needs to be base-lined, that is, a snapshot taken so that original budgets are preserved for later comparison. Once you’ve got the basic data in place, the mechanics of EVA comprise applying the formula, or extracting the analysis, whether numerical, graphical or both, from the agreed planning software tool. Without the basic data, this is impossible!
You will be tracking two aspects of the project:
- Actual Cost – is the accumulated spend as the project progresses.
- Earned Value – is the accumulated original budgeted cost of each completed task as the project progresses.
The true value of Project EVA
As I mentioned earlier, this is not an attempt at an exhaustive explanation of EVA, but the above shows a simple representation of the progress of a project which can be produced with a few clicks of a mouse. Of course, it gets more complicated than this, to show a comprehensive analysis of the project status, but it is not impossible to master. Training can be obtained from a variety of sources, such as online, paid courses, books, etc.
The main point of all this analysis, however, is to communicate something. Make maximum use of the data to make known not only the successes of your project, but also its problems.
First of all, it will get people off your back. How? By providing the answers before the questions are asked. If you publish a regular update of the project status, this will preempt the probing. People will get to know and anticipate these updates. If you have a process in place to produce the information, this can be generated on a regular basis.
It’s an opportunity to celebrate good progress, successes and milestones reached. If there are problems, these will be highlighted early and you can use the opportunity to also publish the solutions or ways these problems will be managed. This increases transparency and a reputation for openness. The result is an enhanced reputation!