10 Steps to Achieving & Maintaining EVMS Validation, Part 2
This is the second of a three-part blog series, 10 Steps to Achieving and Maintaining EVMS Validation. You can read part one here.
Once the implementation planning process is finalized, it’s time to assign staff. Assigning qualified staff to develop and support the earned value management system is critical to validation success, and this step should not be overlooked.
As you build and cultivate your EVMS implementation team, the first thing to look for are motivated individuals that welcome change. Don’t staff your team with people that always talk about ‘how we used to do it,’ instead find those that embrace change.
It is important to include different roles on the implementation team – project managers, Control Account Managers (CAMs), cost, planning and scheduling analysts, pricing, proposal and risk managers, and others. Having a well-balanced team, spanning across multiple user responsibilities, gives your team the confidence they haven’t missed any critical procedures or analysis in the EVMS.
As I mentioned earlier, executive management commitment is critical to success, and that commitment must be demonstrated to the implementation team. When the organization understands the importance to the executive leadership and to the business, they will typically attack the job with enthusiasm. Communication throughout the entire organization is essential to getting everyone onboard and excited about the growth potential that establishing an earned value management system really brings. Although it is a requirement for these contracts, it is also a system that brings a lot more capabilities to the organization.
Now that your EVMS implementation team is sufficiently staffed, it’s time to begin process development. The System Description (SD) is a comprehensive document that describes how your organization’s internal planning and control systems function, especially as they pertain to meeting the intent of the EIA-748 guidelines. The SD is used to enforce consistency and uniformity across the organization and is the principal document in describing how your organization manages earned value management projects and programs.
For the SD, a cross-reference matrix that maps the section of the SD to the specific 32 guidelines is necessary. This matrix helps the assessment team’s review process and ensures that all EVMS requirements are addressed.
Appropriately defined management systems that support the EVMS, distinctly and succinctly documented, are a critical part of the System Description. They define guidance for managing cost, schedule, technical performance, and effective project management execution using an EVMS. Keep in mind that no two System Descriptions are identical as they describe what is unique and distinctive for an individual company.
The System Description is also a mechanism for an organization to move up the project management maturity model, whether you have EVMS requirements or not. By requiring standard processes and procedures be applied to all organizational projects, inefficiencies are reduced, overhead is lowered, and ROI is increased. Consistency also lends itself to having higher confidence in the project management data being presented to management.
Having completed the system description and EVMS process development the system implementation can begin. The implementation and integration of the information systems must be done to meet the processes defined in the SD. One thing that is very important to keep in mind is that the EVMS processes drive how the system implementation is handled, not the other way around.
The information systems may be a mix of legacy systems and project-centric software. Critical Path Method (CPM) scheduling tools (Oracle Primavera P6, Microsoft Project, Deltek Open Plan, etc.) and earned value engines (Deltek Cobra, EVMS forProject, etc.) are essential, as well as analysis tools (Encore Empower, Steelray Project Analyzer, Deltek wInsight, Schedule Analyzer forProject, etc.). Some organizations have internal, custom-built tools that support the EVMS.
The point is that the tool is not validated but rather the use of the tool to meet the intent of the System Description. Let’s take cost/schedule integration for instance. In your SD you define how you integrate the project schedule and the cost (earned value) system. Then you need to prove that out in the implementation of your system by showing how each unique task detail, start date, complete date, % complete, etc., is integrated between the tools. Then you can validate that the % complete is identical in the schedule and cost systems.
Training, as well as user adoption, is a key step in achieving EVMS validation. I recommend that your EVMS training echoes the System Description because this document is what you are reviewed against, so it makes sense that you train on the SD processes. Training should also be customized to each role in the organization – executive management, project manager, control account manager, cost and schedule analysts, risk managers, etc. This will help to avoid information overload of a topic that is not relevant. For example, educate the executive team about the data that comes from the EVMS and how it is relevant to them, not how Baseline Change Requests (BCRs) are approved.
When you are staffing the EVMS implementation team you want to think of individuals with strong presentation skills. These people make excellent instructors for training your staff. I also recommend train the trainer models to avoid burning out your instructors. This approach works well as it allows subject matter knowledge to spread to more individuals, and ultimately that knowledge filters back to other projects and business areas.
One thing to remember is that training is not a one-time event, but rather a continual learning process. I am a huge proponent of recurring brown bag lunches as they are less formal and can generate good discussions. These work great for specific topics, such as usage of management reserve or how to write quality variance analysis reports. You can also invest in virtual training or go as far as introducing gamification into your training curriculum. Whatever approach you take, your ultimate goal is to increase user adoption and compliance with the EVMS.
What are your thoughts on the above?
By Jason Kinder
Jason has extensive experience in Earned Value Management, project controls, project management, and engagement management. He is a frequent speaker at the IPM Workshop, EVM World and numerous project management software vendor conferences. He is an active participant with the NDIA Integrated Program Management Division (IPMD) and the Planning and Scheduling Working Group. He currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the College of Performance Management (CPM).