Selling EVM

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I love earned value management. When I was in school, math was one of my favorite subjects (at least until the numbers all got replaced with letters), so EVM appeals to me. However, to many project managers EVM is something to be avoided at all costs; at best it’s a complete waste of time. In conversations with these project managers, the problem is not in the math itself (which isn’t actually too hard), but in the difficulty of explaining EVM to stakeholders who don’t understand the numbers and what they mean. How do you sell EVM to your stakeholders without focusing on the math?

Looking Past Math: The EVM Basics
I’ll try and get through this entire article without using any EVM formulas, but I can’t promise. But what I will promise is that formulas won’t be the basis of this article, because that’s not what EVM is about. Sure, it uses numbers as an objective measurement of progress--a scorecard if you like--but the point is to identify potential problem areas and help the project manager determine where actions need to be taken. Too often, project managers get hung up on the numbers and fail to step back to the larger picture and explain to their stakeholders the logic behind EVM. As a result, those same stakeholders either focus on the numbers themselves or ignore EVM entirely.

That’s shortsighted, because EVM can …

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