The project managers were given a half-day of EVM
training. Although a portion of the project managers had
some experience with EVM, the concept was completely
new for some of them. The rest of that training day
was spent helping them to start the base-lining process
and answering any questions that they might have had.
Slowly, we helped them to develop a baseline, and then
conducted pseudo-Integrated Baseline Reviews (IBR)
where they presented their Work Breakdown Structure
(WBS), their integrated resource-loaded schedules, their
risks, and their risk mitigation plans. The intent, as with
any IBR, was to get to an agreement with the project
management so that everyone understood the baseline, what the project’s risks were, how they were going to
collect the data, and how they were going to use EVM
to manage their projects.
What we realized during the base-lining process and
as the project personnel collected data and performed
cost/schedule performance analysis was that half a day of training just isn’t enough to learn how to use EVM.
We recognized the need for at least two or three days
to learn the basics. We also realized a few things about
the culture and environment of project management
in NASA, specifically in relation to implementing this
type of change. We figured out that we had to anticipate
some level of resistance within the organization,
especially if they’ve never done this before. We had to
be patient, work with them, and hold their hands a bit.
It also didn’t help that our financial systems did not
collect actual costs in a manner useful for EVM. Lack
of automated data collection meant manual manipulation
of some data—an issue not present with most
contractor financial systems.
Lastly, it didn’t help the
cultural resistance when we
came in halfway through the
projects. EVM may benefit a
struggling project, but for our pilot, there was a price
to pay to come in after the start. There were already
systems in place on the projects and we came in and told
them that they had to change everything and start using
EVM. We realized that to be most effective, EVM has to
be introduced at the very beginning of the project.
Glen Rhodeside performs
systems engineering, risk management,
cost estimating, operations analysis,
and related analysis for varied programs
and projects. For the past three years,
he has been a member of NASA’s EVM
Focal Point Council to set and coordinate
policy, as well as share best practices
and lessons learned.