Project Management

5 Limitations of Earned Value [Infographic]

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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Categories: earned value


I’m surprisingly enjoying my deep dive into earned value management – it’s not a technique I would say I’m hugely experienced in, but it’s something I’m committed to learning more about.

In this infographic I summarise the 5 limitations of earned value:

  • Numbers don’t tell you the whole story and you need a bit of contextual narrative too
  • Data has to be accurate otherwise you’re making assumptions and predictions based on what isn’t truly happening
  • Quality has to be assumed because EV doesn’t factor in quality as part of the way it measures performance
  • EV and Agile aren’t perfectly aligned but that’s OK because if you’re in an agile team you’ll have other (more appropriate) ways of measuring performance
  • There is a lot of jargon! And the words sometimes can get in the way of being clear about what you are talking about.

What other limitations of Earned Value have you come across as you’ve used it? Or perhaps you aren’t using EV because of another limitation that is stopping you from embracing it in your environment? Let us know in the comments below!

limitations of earned value infographic

Posted on: April 13, 2021 07:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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Hey, Elizabeth.
I think it's pretty funny that ProjectManagement.com listed our blogs right next to each other in the promo e-mail blast, given the different takes on EV.
If we ever attend the same PMI Congress we'll have to connect.
--Michael

Thank you for your article/infographic - it was data-dense, useful, informative, and a value-added read.

@Michael, Knowing the limitations makes EV more valuable, I think! I always appreciate your views and if we’re ever at the same event I’d love to catch up. I remember you sharing your thoughts on risk management in the chapter of your book extracted in the Gower Advances in PM compilation, when I wrote in my book review, “The chapter by Michael Hatfield on the coming of a sea change in project management science is the best in the book.”

I remember! For those reading these comments besides Elizabeth, I absolutely did not pay her to say that about my chapter! You also said that you would like to have me and Dave Hillson over for dinner some time, which would be sure to make the conversation ... lively.
Love reading your stuff -- see you around the blogger pages.
--Michael

Great infographic, Elizabeth. I have came across a few limitations:

Some stakeholders are not keen in learning about EVM. If the sponsor is one of them, not so good.

Lack of adherence of team members in required practices, like writing time. This boosts the risk of a garbage in garbage out situation.

SPI becomes quite useless when project is completed ca 60%. In other words, a project that is extremely delayed will have a SPI of 1 when it is completed.

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