Using Earned Value Analysis to Manage Projects White Paper

Dr. Mark Gershon, PMP, Temple University
Published Date: 
27 Feb 2012

Any curriculum on the subject of Project Management explains that there are three major tools that are needed to manage projects, three tools that are not used in other types of operations. These three tools are the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Critical Path Method (CPM) Scheduling, and Earned Value Analysis.

The WBS provides the scope of the project, detailing each task required to be performed. Since it is very difficult to conduct a project without a list of tasks that need to be completed, virtually everyone in project management used the WBS.

The CPM schedules the tasks from the WBS, putting them on a calendar to provide a plan for carrying out the project. This plan or schedule is usually illustrated with a Gantt chart. Again, no organization would allow a project manager to spend their money or use their resources without such a plan, so again virtually everyone in project management uses this CPM tool.

Earned Value Analysis is not a planning tool. It is a tool for managing the work during the Execution phase of a project. It is a Control tool. We would think that every project needs a good Control tool, and every project manager would use it. But most project managers, and most organizations, do not use Earned Value analysis.  

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