Agile EVM: Earned Value Management the Agile Way

  • and cost effective to implement. AgileEVM leverages already existing work metrics, adding little to no additional work to the current processes.
  • It is at least as accurate as current Agile forecasting methods such as burn down charts. To review the mathematical proof of this assertion, review our IEEE published research paper at the SolutionsIQ web site.
  • It adds value to Agile teams and stakeholders by providing data for decision making.

Change is expected on Agile projects. It is important to remember that metrics generated by AgileEVM are based on what is actual "right now." Once change occurs, a new baseline is established and re-measurement is required. Fortunately, with AgileEVM this is an easy task.

All this said, AgileEVM is not a silver bullet, and is not meant to replace current Agile metrics or tools. It is simply a one tool among others in the Agile toolkit to provide information critical to decision making. And, AgileEVM is not necessarily appropriate for all Agile projects. Projects with extremely short release cycles will not find as much utility from this technique as projects with longer release cycles involving multiple sprints or iterations. As with any technique, apply AgileEVM judiciously.

Another interesting point to note is thatStory points are what we used for estimating backlog items. They can easily be replaced with whatever measure you are using for your estimating purposes. For example; Mike Cohn has written about using Ideal Team days, or T-shirt sizes, others refer to Gummy Bears as ways of estimating relative size of backlog items. [4] It doesn't matter what the measure is as long as it is reasonably consistent and is expressed as a number. Therefore, measures like T-shirt sizes need to be converted to numeric equivalents to be used in the AgileEVM calculations.

Agile EVM Worksheet
As part of defining and testing these metrics, we developed an easy to use worksheet to calculate and track our results. Leveraging release planning and existing Agile metrics, the AgileEVM worksheet has five initial parameters, and four recurring inputs for easy calculation. In order to use this technique, you must have data to establish the initial baseline:

  1. Budget at Complete - what's your targeted budget for the release? This can be expressed in either dollars or hours.
  2. Iteration Length - How long are each of your iterations or Sprints? AgileEVM assumes that your planned iterations are of the same length.
  3. Planned Iterations - How many iterations are you planning to include for this release?
  4. Planned Release Story Points - How many Story points have you estimated to be included in the release?
  5. Start Date - What date are you starting the first sprint? While this data point is not required to generate the Earned Value and Planned Value data, by including it the AgileEVM worksheet will automatically calculate your baseline schedule, in much the same was as a traditional Work Breakdown Structure.

Once your initial baseline is established, you need to measure progress at defined boundaries. These boundaries can be developed from Sprints or iterations, or can occur in a time based manner i.e. weeks or months. At each measurement boundary, four simple data points are entered into the spreadsheet:

  • Current iteration number.
  • Number of story points actually completed.
  • Number of story points added to or removed from the release.
  • Actual Cost in dollars or hours. It is critical that the actual cost amount used reflects the cost needed to generate the completed story points.

While not a silver bullet, AgileEVM can provide solid data for decision making that benefits team members, product owners, project managers and agile stakeholders alike. 

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1 comment
Leon Green's picture

Where can I find a copy of the Excel template for EVM?

December 4, 2013 - 5:43pm

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