Who's Afraid of EVA?

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of the Microsoft Project Made Easy series. For more project management advice, visit the website TacticalProjectManagement.com.

We've all heard the term somewhere in a project management class or a PMP exam preparation book: EVA, Earned Value Analysis. According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, earned value analysis is "an objective method to measure project performance in terms of scope, time and cost."

 

In theory, these project management concepts sound great, but in actual practice we need additional guidance to apply these concepts to our projects. After all, how many of you actually draw a network diagram of your project schedule and conduct a forward and backward pass?

 

While commiserating with a group of project managers over their recent program "challenges," I conducted an informal survey of their EVA knowledge. In my unscientific study, I found these project managers had heard the term EVA but didn't know how or why EVA should be applied to their projects. None of the project managers in their organization uniformly applied EVA across their projects. I continued this informal survey with other project managers and found only a few understood EVA and actually applied it on their projects.

 

Who's afraid of EVA? Earned value analysis is an excellent technique to assess project health and apply metrics to manage your project. Earned value analysis is also an effective way to communicate to your customer on the overall budget and schedule performance …

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"Impartial observers from other planets would consider ours an utterly bizarre enclave if it were populated by birds, defined as flying animals, that nevertheless rarely or never actually flew. They would also be perplexed if they encountered in our seas, lakes, rivers and ponds, creatures defined as swimmers that never did any swimming. But they would be even more surprised to encounter a species defined as a thinking animal if, in fact, the creature very rarely indulged in actual thinking."

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