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Monitoring Project Budgets and Schedules

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Instructor Information: Stuart G. Walesh, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE

Course Length: 1 Hour

Purpose and Background

Projects are typically pulled in three directions: 1) Stay within the budget, 2) meet the schedule, and 3) provide all the deliverables. The likelihood of successfully accommodating all three “pulls” is greatly increased if the project begins with preparation of a project plan (PP) and, relative to this webinar, if project progress is periodically monitored with the Earned Value Method (EVM) with corrections applied as needed. (Preparation and use of PPs is described in the ASCE webinar “Project Planning: How to Think Through Before You Do”).

Monitoring project progress means being able to periodically know and compare what we planned to spend, what we actually spent, and the value of what we’ve actually produced. With this triad of information, the project manager can identify and build on success or, in contrast, identify problems and correct them. At any point in a project, managers typically know planned expenditures and actual expenditures but often are missing the third essential item, that is, the value of what has been produced. Therefore, they don’t know the status of the project and, more specifically, are not able to see and correct looming deliverables, budget and schedule problems.

The EVM leverages the value of accounting information. Furthermore, when project managers adopt the EVM, accounting departments, which often provide too much financial information too late to project managers, are likely to take a fresh look at the quantity and quality and timing of what they provide.

The EVM can be readily added to a spreadsheet used to plan project tasks and budgets. However, commercially available software compatible with the methodology is available, and is noted in this seminar. Participants receive a detailed handout on which the webinar will draw. The handout includes references to articles, books, e-newsletters, websites and other self-study materials.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn the 4-step EVM process
  • Understand the 7 benefits of the EVM
  • Obtain 8 examples of reading project profiles
  • See 5 ways to identify project tasks
  • Appreciate 5 tips for estimating task percent complete

Webinar Benefits

  • Encourage and leverage PPs
  • Identify deliverables/budget/schedule problems early; when they can still be corrected
  • Hold task leaders accountable for their contributions to budget, schedule, and deliverables
  • Focus on value provided, not budget expended
  • Improve applicability of accounting reports
  • Reduce project overruns
  • Increase project profitability
  • Enhance client/owner/stakeholder relations through improved project performance

Intended Audience

This webinar will help public, private, and academic sector project managers and project team members who are not familiar with the EVM (also known as earned value analysis, S-curve method, 3-curve method, and integrated budget and schedule method) and want to know the real status of ongoing projects.

This webinar introduces the EVM and presents some basic examples. While this webinar is not intended for individuals already familiar with the EVM or similar methods, experienced individuals are welcome to attend and share their knowledge. Potential project managers will benefit from this webinar because they will acquire a basic building block of successful project management.

Webinar Outline

  • Project status: How are we really doing?
  • The missing link: Why traditional financial information is not enough
  • Task value as perceived by the client
  • A 4-step approach: Only one is new
  • Tasks and budget: The S-curve
  • Burning the budget: The cost curve
  • Work completed: The value earned curve
  • Putting it all together: Continue success and/or fix problems
  • 3 numerical examples
  • 5 conceptual examples
    – Corrective actions
    – Tips for defining tasks
    – Tips for estimating percent completion
    – Benefits of the EVM
  • Resources for additional study