I recently held a webinar where I spoke about three attributes that every Control Account Manager (CAM) must have to be successful. The CAM is vital to the successful delivery of on-time and on-budget projects. I often think of the CAM and project manager as similar roles, with the CAM having many of the same responsibilities of the PM but a smaller piece of the overall project.
One of the primary reasons for the CAM role within an EIA-748 compliant Earned Value Management System is that the guidelines are typically applied to very large development projects – those over $20 Million. It makes sense on such large projects to have management control points lower within the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
The CAM plays a critical role in an EVMS and the overall success of the project. The CAM is responsible for the development and management of the scope, schedule, and budget for all work in the control account. The CAM is also responsible for the planning, coordination, and achievement of all work within a control account, and they provide a single authority for all scope, technical and cost issues for the control account – not an easy task.
There are three key attributes that every CAM must have to manage the scope, schedule, and budget of their control accounts. Responsibility, authority, and accountability. Without all three of these attributes, the CAM cannot be an effective manager of their portion of the project.
Responsibility means that it is your duty or job to deal with and make decisions related to the project and control account. The CAM must be given full responsibility for managing the cost, schedule, and technical performance of the control account, and for supporting all customer meetings and data requests pertaining to the control account. To be effective, the CAM must have ownership of the budget and full authority to direct resources.
The second key attribute to be an effective CAM is having authority. The Merriam-Webster definition of authority is the “power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior,” and “persons in command.” The CAM must have the authority to control the outcome to be truly effective. If the CAM owns the scope, schedule and cost of the control account but has no authority then their success will be severely impeded.
Finally, a CAM must be accountable for control account performance. Specifically, the CAM is authorized by, and accountable to, the program manager for the complete cost, schedule, and technical objectives. This accountability is not complete without the responsibility and authority to manage the scope, schedule, and resources. The CAM is the one person that is accountable to the project manager, the customer, executive management, as well as the project team.
Responsibility, authority, and accountability are expected from each and every CAM. In other words, to have a fully compliant EVMS, your CAM must have these three attributes. The organization must recognize that a CAM is not simply a project status reporter. The CAM must have responsibility and authority to take corrective actions and must be held accountable to the performance of the work.
It is worth emphasizing that this is something that DCMA, or cognizant federal agency auditors are looking for during CAM interviews.
Jason joined Pinnacle in November 2020, with experience in Earned Value Management, project controls, project management, and engagement management.
Founded in 1993, Pinnacle provides a wide range of professional services through 4 primary service lines: Management Consulting, Technology Systems Implementation, Training & Education, Functional Fulfillment. We have extensive experience implementing and optimizing enterprise-wide capabilities in all Project Management related practices.
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