(Flourish. Enter into the construction trailer conference room Shakespeare, the Royal Arts Construction Coordinator [RACC], Contractor Representative, Procurement Specialist, and Project Manager)
Shakespeare: Are we all met?
RACC: Yay, sirrah, as well we should be. Peruse you these, the Cost Performance Reports in Format One. At this rate of performance, thou wilt overrun by 40%!
Contractor Rep: Aye, m’lord, that is the calculated Estimate at Completion. But see you here, these the bottoms-up EACs, and lay aside your heart’s fury.
RACC: Zooks! The so-called “bottoms-up” EAC indicates no cost overrun whatsoever! These are great tidings, indeed!
Shakespeare: Tarry a moment, m’lord. Sirrah Contractor Representative, howst can thou maintain a zero Variance at Completion with a Cost Performance Index of 0.6? I’ve written about some fantastic scenarios, and even victories snatch’d from the certain jaws of defeat. But completing this type of project on-cost with a CPI of 0.6 when thou statest thou art more than 50% complete is too improbable to be believed!
Contractor Rep: ‘Tis part of the practice of Project Management, good my customer. I wouldst not expect the finest playwright in all the Anglosphere to understand…
Shakespeare: Try me.
Project Manager: I am made bold to interject, my lords, on this point. The calculated EAC, being, as it were, the result of mystical conjurings, and processes inconceivable, are required by the Crown for projects of a certain size, this one included. But look you upon the bottoms-up version, rightly calculated by summing all of the costs incurred heretofore, and adding them to the new estimate for the remaining work, and be reassured.
Shakespeare: Sirrah Project Manager, I will peruse these, the documents you provided, and decide for myself whether to be reassured or alarm’d. See you these, the Variance Analysis Reports. With a cumulative CPI of 0.6, I anticipateth a doozy of an explanation, one to rival even my fictions, and thou didst not disappoint! The main causal agent of this vast negative cost variance is listed as “poor initial estimate,” is it not?
Project Manager: (reads VAR) Verily, sir, it so says.
Shakespeare: Signore Procurement Specialist, say you so?
Procurement Specialist: Aye, m’lord, the Estimators were villainous indeed.
Shakespeare: The Basis of Estimate is the amount of the resource, multiplied by its unit cost, true?
All: Of course.
Shakespeare: Then, Signore Procurement Specialist, which was incorrect? The amount, or the unit cost?
Procurement Specialist: Verily, m’lord, it was the amount.
Shakespeare: That being the case, why believest thou that the exact same process of estimating the remaining work wouldst suddenly become accurate?
RACC: Excellent point!
Project Manager: And yet, m’lord, surely this future work will be easier to predict, given that it’s only 40% of the original scope baseline.
Shakespeare: Dost thou sayest, then, that the smaller and nearer the prediction be, the more accurate it becomest?
Project Manager: Aye, verily. (Enter one playing Owen Glendower) Who be this fellow approaching, wild-eyed and flailing?
Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep. (Henry IV, Act 3, Scene 1)
Shakespeare: Since we apparently must anticipate this project’s total cost at completion by using fanciful divinations rather than, say, actual performance, I thought I would invite one experienced in prophecy.
Contractor Rep: Dost thou mock us, sir?
Shakespeare: (In exaggerated nasally voice) No, I’m not mocking you.
RACC: (Trying to stifle a laugh) Surely you see his point, gentlemen. If thou maintainest that the cause of the existing massive cost overrun is a poor initial estimate, but then proceed to present a new cost estimate that not only shows that the existing overrun will be corrected, but the remaining work will be completed at substantially below the original baseline, it strains credulity. Both cannot be true. Do you want to change the VAR, or adjust your bottoms-up EAC?
Project Manager: We could probably fine-tune the EAC.
Glendower: I’ll not have it altered. (Henry IV, Act 3, Scene 1)
Shakespeare: You can stop now. You’ve made my point.
Glendower: Cousin, of many men I do not bear these crossings. (Henry IV, Act 3, Scene 1)
All: KNOCK IT OFF! (Exuent Glendower)
Shakespeare: Sirrah Project Manager, when thou sayest “fine-tune,” dost thou meanest “revise upward?”
Project Manager: Yay, verily, sir, though not as much upward as the calculated EAC.
RACC: But will you, sir, certify now that your EAC will not be surpassed?
Project Manager: Why would I do that?
RACC: Thou just said that you wouldst not revise the bottoms-up EAC as high as the calculated version. If thou hast such faith in your revised EAC, and are convinced that the calculated figure is too high, why not guarantee it? On behalf of the Crown, I am prepared to sign a new contract, for the amount of the bottoms-up EAC, on a Firm Fixed Price basis.
Contractor Rep: Good my lord, who knows what other events, unintended and unavoidable, may befall this project?
Shakespeare: (whispering to the RACC) Like bad project management!
Project Manager: Thou speaks aright, m’lords. My next round of cost/schedule performance reports shall please thee, be assured, as I will not show any EAC to which I would not be willing to sign on to an FFP basis. (Exeunt all but RACC and Shakespeare.)
Shakespeare: I understandeth not. How could those contractors make such a pledge?
RACC: Because the PM’s brother-in-law is the Duke, and second cousin to the Lord of the Exchequer. Unless I miss my guess, we’ll be seeing a “get-well” Baseline Change Proposal within the next few reporting cycles.
Shakespeare: What villainy is here! I must capture this in one of my plays. I think I’ll create a character after that contractor rep fellow, and name him “Iago.”