We recently ran a survey asking you to share your biggest frustration with available project management tools. As you can imagine, we’ve gotten some interesting results.
One user responded and told us about the large corporation he works for that is required to do Earned Value Analysis (EVA). They don’t have an integrated cost management tool (i.e., Deltek, OpenPlan, or Cobra), and so they’ve been forced to cobble together a mix of middleware over the years to try and accomplish what is required. How inefficient and frustrating!
Let’s consider the basics here. According to PMI, Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is a method that allows a project manager to measure the amount of work actually performed on a project beyond the basic review of cost and schedule reports. EVA provides a method that permits the project to be measured by progress achieved. The project manager is then able, using the progress measured, to forecast a project’s total cost and date of completion, based on trend analysis or application of the project’s “burn rate.”
The point of EVA is to answer three questions as they relate to the project: where have we been, where are we now, and where are we going. Analysis takes a look at the budget (or planned) value of the work schedule, the actual value of the work completed, and the “earned value” of the physical, finished work to try and project an accurate outcome.
From our point of view, organizations that need to do serious Earned Value Analysis and do not choose to integrate a third-party cost management software with the ability to automatically perform these intelligence tests may be stuck. The features in Microsoft Project often do not conform to the laid-out standards of government projects, for example, and the cost management features of Project Online are on lighter side. We are guessing that our survey responder is probably not alone muddling through this process of pulling together his budget, work schedule, and other reports, and trying to make cost predictions. Let’s not leave him hanging, though.
We want to hear from you. What are your tips or tricks to help run EVA more smoothly using tools already built-in to MS Project?