Sunday, April 29, 2012

Turning data into information with earned value management

While a firm believer in earned value management I have a confession to make. I've never joined a project or programme in which earned value management is in use. Either within my specific work stream or any other that I have been able to get sight of. I estimate there are potentially three likely reasons for this.
  1. There is no requirement to track cost or schedue performance in fine detail
  2. There is no capability or inclination to use earned value management
  3. There is no market for the specific outputs of earned value management
I might be able to help with number three.

I'm a fully paid up member of the Association for Project Management (APM). The APM has several publications and its Earned Value Management Guide is (I think) one of the most thorough and clear pieces on the topic by anyone anywhere.

The document covers a great deal of material but I include here what was, for me, an entirely novel approach to illustrating earned value - namely the bullseye chart. See below.

Now, for earned value advocates I appreciate that some of the trending and intuitive extrapolation is less apparent. However, for sponsors and stakeholders not well versed in earned value management, I think its appeal is self-evident.

Equally once the initial spreadsheet is assembled, it uses precisely the same data as traditional earned value charts so really, its very little extra effort.

I owe a huge deal of credit to Jon Peltier of, an MVP with superlative Excel knowledge for providing a step-by-step on his site for how to create a bullseye chart. It is remarkably finicky. You'll be pleased to know, I've saved you all the hard work by including an Excel file here which you're free to use.

I believe it's possible to add date markers to the series labels on the graph which I think would be an enhancement. And for those of you with an appetite for such things, you could publish this via Excel Services in SharePoint and, using external data sources for the bullseye chart, have a real-time dash board for all your projects.

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