On the EVM LinkedIn site there is a post from a supplier of EV services (one of those infomercials) about the problems with deploying Earned Value. Now I'm not one to comment on business development types posting on public forums, because one of the main purposes for things like LinkedIn is the maintain contact with other professionals and potential clients in our industry.
But this post seemed to be missing something that is common in today's world of selling solutions. The message starts with a list of problems. Obvious problems at times. Lame problems some times - doctor doctor it hurts when I do this. Then stop doing that. The Rocky Flats poster says ...
Don't Do Stupid Things On Purpose
... is always my favorite, when I encounter descriptions of bad management masking as real problems.
I responded with the following to the 10 reasons EVM Fails. By the way EV (Earned Value) is the numbers from the formulas, EVM (Earned Value Management) are the management actions using these numbers, and EVMS (Earned Value Management System) is the collection of software and processes that implement the Earned Value Management. This is a detail, but it may be insight into the understanding or misunderstanding of how EVM actually works using an EVMS.
Anyway here's my response:
No doubt there are problems. The issue is, every problem needs a solution scaled to the ability of the organization to absorb the solution. When I see problems listed without the first level of solution I'd suggest it doesn't serve our community in ways that showing how to address or at least start to address the problem would.
All the problems listed have simple solutions. So perhaps for each of those, a starting point solution would be the next step in your efforts to introduce EV to organizations.
Here's my list:
- Lack of management commitment - build a fee or profit maintenance case for using EV to address uncontrolled growth of EAC. Think about money. Use Gerry Mcquire Show me the money.
- Management doesn't assign proven performers - use Ray Stratton's EVM maturity assessment book as a start.
- CAMs don't accept responsibility for CSP - get new CAMs. Really, this is unacceptable for any business. If assigned to a job and you say I'm not doing this. You need to have another job. If you're not qualified, get trained. If you're not capable, get help. If you just don't want to do it, get another job.
- Management doesn't hold CAMs accountable - the managers better look for work somewhere else - really the role of management is to manage. They have no business managing if they can't perform their fundamental role in the business. Management is a VERB.
- Poorly documented processes - this is common actually. But there are numerous process flow charts for EVM on Google. Look for DOE System Descriptions for the laboratories (LANL, Sandia, Oak Ridge, etc.) copy them put them on the wall.
- Poorly trained teams - buy Rays book, download the PMI EVM guide, find the Booz Allen DOE training from the DOE site, sign up and get the EVM for Dummies from DelTek, loads of free sources, attend the College of Perfomance Management EVM World or the Integrated Program Management conferences.
- Using unproven tools - EVM is not about tools (EVMS) in the beginning. It's about people and processes. EV can be done on a white board. Tools make it easier, and maybe better.
- Management accepts excuses for bad performance - this is a failure to communicate as Luke was told. There is no excuse for this excuse.
- Inaccurate data in the system - now this is a REAL problem. It's a problem on billion dollar programs we work as well. The only way out of this is brute force corrective actions. Continuous vigilance of the integrity of the data is required. This is really hard work for every user of EV, it never ends.
- Lack of commitment (again) - well it's time to own up to the role of management isn't it. This is a lame excuse and will only be corrected when management is held accountable for their actions. If they're not committed, don't even start, move one, do it another way. This is like saying I can't loose weight, because I really can't stop eating jelly donuts for breakfast. Really? As our HR director (a women) is fond of saying, come on guys, put your big boy pants on and deal with the problem.
The list from TenSix is a good start - for the most part - but if we keep pointing out the problem, without some set of solutions, nothing is going to change, in fact it is going to get worse. Actionable outcomes are the basis of change. And even more important pointing out the obvious solutions is not all that useful either. If the solutution was simple, the problem would have been solved long ago.
So when you're starting to think about EVM, try the phrase we use when selling the idea of EVM to firms just starting to enter the domain requiring or desiring EVM,
It provides actionable outcomes in units of measure meaningful to the decision maker, to increase the probability of program success.
If they buy that, start solving the other issues in the list, if not, find a place where there are better managers.
Now my responses are simple and possibly simple minded. So that means the real answers are hard and require dedication, commitment, resources, talent, experience, good processes, deep knowledge and the ability to develop soultions to fit the need of the domain and context. Tools are nice, but tool vendors sell tools not solutions. So in the end face the facts that this is real work.
As another colleague from a major defense contractor says - There is no such thing as EVM Lite. There is only EVM RIGHT. You don't have to have all 32 Guidelines in place and working on day one. But you'd better have the 11 Earned Value Guidelines in place and working, or you're not doing your job as a program controls person. Then the next challange is to deploy these on real projects. But then you'll encounter other problems. Problems around the business of running the business with EVM.
If we keep looking for - and getting - simple solutions to complex problems, we're going to be disappointed. Time to put your big boy pants on.