Earned Value Tipping Point: Work Smarter

New Results PM Group is building tools to help organizations improve, as earned value management (EVM) moves towards its next tipping point. The future state of earned value management requires organizations to work smarter. We're building the tools they need.

Earned value management seems to hit cyclical tipping points, every twenty-five years (or so). Each cycle, business processes and technology evolve to the next phase.

  • Phase One: Feed the Beast. In the first phase, DoD mandated earned value management (CSCSC – Cost & Schedule Control Systems Criteria) on large programs. Contractors relied on mainframe applications and costly, labor-intensive, paper-based business processes. The goal of earned value seemed to become “feeding the beast” rather than managing the program.
  • Phase Two: Schedule Slip. The second phase of earned value restored some lost management value and reduced costs. Desktop applications (like Cobra) replaced mainframe systems. More effective schedule-cost integration helped drive a better schedule-driven earned value process. Earned value management spread to DoE, other agencies, and other industries. Now (for many reasons), earned value management is approaching another tipping point.
  • Phase Three: Work Smarter. The next (imminent) phase of earned value promises to improve management value and reduce costs (again) by working smarter. The key to the next phase is not automation (although, that is important), not the cloud (offers some benefits), and not Artificial Intelligence (not now, at least). The real key is integration (better, smarter, holistic).

Work Smarter

DoE is helping drive earned value into the next phase. Project management is prone to experiments, fads, and reinventing the wheel. DoD and DoE are experimenting at improving earned value management. DoE will likely update its guidance, requiring national labs and contractors to work smarter.

DoE’s experiments include a major automation component (as well as greater agency-contractor collaboration/interaction). The concept includes automated testing (of trends, variances, metrics) to trigger corrective action planning. That is a good idea and should yield benefits, but suffers from the same assumptions and constraints of all earned value management: trends, variances, and metrics are only as good as the plan.

A good plan requires complex integration: technical, schedule, cost, and risk (like earned value guidelines call for). This is difficult to do well. It is complex, multi-disciplinary, cross-functional integration of subject matter expertise, technology, and more.

Power Tools

If only the solution was as simple as a software application, but it isn’t. There is no silver bullet, but any job is easier if you have the right tools. That’s what we’ve been building: power tools for helping organizations work smarter.


Our power tools framework helps make improvements and build capabilities, by analyzing business process and technology, identifying capability gaps, and designing solutions (process and technology). The framework is built upon a foundation that integrates best practices with requirements (multi-disciplinary, mandated, practical).

This is not a software application, but includes technology components to bridge capability gaps and help build the complex integration (process, technology) required to effectively manage large, complex programs – in a repeatable, sustainable way.

It takes work to work smarter. That work requires know-how and power tools. New Results PM Group looks forward to helping more organizations to work smarter.