This is part of a blog series for practical tips on how to be more productive, cultivate creativity and growth within your company, and nurture a vibrant culture among your teams.
The chances of you hitting the deadline and budget for your next project are slim if you aren't using suitable project management techniques. In fact, according to Standish Group, less than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget in the last year.
Problems such as unrealistic time frames, frequent changes in plans and processes, and lack of clear goals cause scope creep, eating up time and destroying your bottom line.
Practicing Earned Value Management (EVM) can help you stay on budget and on time. EVM is a real-time systematic approach for tracking the cost and schedule associated with a project. EVM essentially compares the current state of your project against your original plans and projections, allowing you to make key adjustments that ultimately ensure your success.
The key to EVM lies in examining, at each stage of a project, the amount of value that has been added (the earned value) by the work done thus far. Doing so allows managers to “micro-schedule” their projects—without “micro-managing”—in order to control budget and schedule at each step.
EVM can save your upcoming project by:
1. Making sure you do up-front planning.
In order for EVM to work for you, you will need to spend a good bit of time upfront establishing a reasonable budget and a realistic time frame. You will need to sketch out the project from beginning to end, plan to delegate work across your team fairly, and account for any potential challenges you will face. With proper planning, you set your team up for success. Adding EVM to the process further increases your odds of coming out on top.
2. Maintaining objectivity.
With EVM, at any given point, you clearly see where your project stands versus where you planned to be at that point and how much work your team has actually completed versus what you had projected to complete. It removes human perception, emotion and assumption from the equation, and leaves you with clear data that shows you where you are likely to come up short. Armed with that data, you can determine whether your initial plan was realistic and decide what you need to do to move forward.
3. Simplifying project management.
To implement EVM, you need to use a single system—Folio for JIRA is an example—to track the data and metrics for a project. As a result, stakeholders on a project must learn to use only one system to track, monitor, and forecast the project’s completion dates, costs and budgets. Not only is that simpler, it also increases transparency across the organization and among stakeholders.
4. Increasing accountability.
In order for the EVM analysis to work, managers and employees must honestly and accurately track their time and report their progress. With that information available to all stakeholders, employees with solid performance will keep up the extra effort. Employees who are lagging behind will pick up the pace to match the output of their coworkers.
5. Catching problem areas early on.
Project stakeholders are alerted to problem areas that put the project at risk from Day One and throughout the development and implementation phases. As a result, they can make adjustments to get the project back on track and more in line with the original plan. In addition, they can prevent those same problems from occurring again and slowing progress.
6. Anticipating problems.
EVM helps you catch problems as they are occurring. But perhaps more important is that EVM allows you to anticipate problem areas with your budget and schedule so that you can act before you experience any setbacks.
7. Motivating your team.
While it may seem that the focus of EVM is to catch problems, it can also show you when you are ahead of schedule and well under budget. That good news can be a huge morale booster for hard-working employees, and prompt them to keep up the great work.
Ultimately, using EVM allows you to make your project team more agile so that you can adapt, overcome issues, and come in on time and under budget.
Tempo Folio can help
Tempo Folio for JIRA and JIRA Agile can help your teams stay on track, within scope, and on time with agile earned value management. Tempo is suitable for small to medium businesses as well as large-scale distributed enterprises for the largest JIRA Server customers, and is available on the Atlassian Marketplace.