Project managers are expected to know the progress of their projects at all times. Are you meeting expectations? Staying within budget? Staying on schedule? These can be tough questions to answer without the use of EVM (earned value management).
Fortunately, EVM doesn’t require a different approach to project planning and management. Rather, it extracts useful information from planning work that you’re routinely doing.
Milestones: The Key to EVM
Established during planning, milestones are a fundamental strategic tool used to subdivide a project’s work effort. They’re created with the express purpose of indicating how much work should have been completed as of a given date.
In order to serve as progress measures for controlling projects, milestones must be defined in three dimensions:
- Clearly quantified work: there can be no confusion about whether or not a task has been completed.
- Allocated resources: indicated by either time or dollars spent.
- Completion date: can be natural (the end of a contract), artificial (every Friday), or based on a need to measure progress as of a certain date/expenditure (as of May 14, the painting will be complete at a cost of $1500).
Like alarm clocks, milestones tell management that something should have been completed by a certain date and cost. If it has not been done, something is wrong; there has been an exception to the plan.
Milestone timing depends on the reporting needs of the project. However, the shorter the time between milestones, the lower the risk that the project will not deliver the expected value.
This information was drawn from Global Knowledge’s Earned Value Management course.
This article was originally published in Global Knowledge’s Business Brief e-newsletter. Global Knowledge delivers comprehensive hands-on project management, business process, and professional skills training. Visit our online Knowledge Center at www.globalknowledge.com/business for free white papers, webinars, and more.
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