Is There a Value Beyond the Earned Value?

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Is there value beyond earned value management (EVM)? That is the question the author of this article ponders. Then it struck him for the first time that every project did earn a value beyond the EVM. Find out what it is in this article.

Imagine waking up on a Saturday morning with your partner out of town and it is your task to baby-sit a 2-year-old. I was in that situation last week. While trying to keep an eye on the little person, I started to read the new version of "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge". The section Earned Value management captured my interest immediately. Earned Value Management (EVM) is an objective measurement of the work that has been accomplished on a project by taking into account the quantity of work completed, the duration, and the cost burden to complete that work. As I read this, I remembered the famous quote from Charles Garfield (n.d.), "Values provide perspective in the best of times and the worst". I started to wonder if Earned Value was the only value earned when undertaking a project (temporary endeavor undertaken to achieve a particular goal) OR was there a value earned beyond the earned value?

I started to question myself to find the answers on what other VALUE would be achieved beyond the earned value. It struck me for the first time that every project did earn a value beyond the earned value. Realizing this made me feel like as if I were in a state of enlightenment where one is aware of the spiritual origin of his own consciousness.

The other value earned beyond Earned Value is the knowledge and experience gained by the project team. For the sake of this article, let us call this value the Proficiency Value. The lessons learned at the end of every project are documented as a part of project management practices and the general notion on lessons learned is to document the mistakes made in a project and improve on them for future projects. The reality is that the lessons learned are nothing but the proficiency value earned from a project. It is the ability to reflect on a situation, after the situation has passed, that allows the team to think about what happened. Every team member would have increased their proficiency value based on his or her roles and responsibilities in the project. However, in reality, we tend to view the lessons learned more as confessing one's weaknesses and not as objective measures of achievement, which is where the value add lies.

My definition of proficiency value is the difference in the knowledge and experience of every individual after the project and before the project. Stated differently, Proficiency Value = Knowledge at the end of a project - Knowledge existing before the project. The next time you participate in a lessons learned exercise try to focus on both achievements and mistakes and document the proficiency value earned for the project. The trick is to continue doing proficiency value assessments consistently for every project in which you are involved and analyze the gain in a year's time. If the organization does not support such an approach, I strongly urge you to keep a log of your proficiency value and discuss it with your supervisor during your performance appraisal.

While my thoughts were, on the proficiency values and their benefits, I received a nudge from my son. The little person was hungry, and it was time for his afternoon feeding. I came back from the imaginary universe of value earning to face the reality of life and was thinking of how true all those quotes on reality are that say, "Reality can be beaten with enough imagination" (Really Quotes, n.d.).

Charles Garfield quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2006 from

Really Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2006 from

I would be failing in my task if I forget to acknowledge my colleague Patricia Couch from Reynolds and Reynolds for her help and support in completing this article.

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