Project Management

More Fun with Earned Value

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

The word "fun" and "earned value" are rarely, if ever, used together. The last time I heard about a "fun" math calculation was when my fifth grade teacher tried to motivate us to solve story problems. I never really cared to know when two trains, traveling toward each other at 20 meters per second and 6,000 meters apart, would collide. Okay. The answer is 2.5 minutes, but how does this apply to earned value?


Determining a project's earned value is a story problem (without the colliding trains, although some projects fit this analogy):


Joe is managing a small $35,905 J2EE software project that is planned to last 64 days. A recent review of the status report indicated the project had planned to spend $23,570 and had only completed $19,575 of work. The project spent $23,170 to complete the work to date.


Answer the following questions:


  1. If the project continues at this performance level, what will be the final cost of the project?
  2. Does the team need to increase or decrease its performance?
  3. How many days will it take to complete the project?

Initially, these questions make you feel like you're strapped to those two colliding trains, but with MS-Project you can calculate the answers in less than the 2.5 minutes it takes for the two trains to collide. The previous articles, How to Calculate EVA with MS-…

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When I was born I was so surprised I couldn't talk for a year and a half.

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