Why the Right Tools Can Make a Difference
DCMA recently published an update to their set of test metrics they use for their Earned Value Management System (EVMS) compliance process. As for previous versions, Version 3.2 is a combination of manual and automated tests of the EVMS data – hence the label “Data Driven EVMS Compliance Process.” Version 3.2 includes 139 test metrics with additional cross references to three of their EVMS Business Practices (BP):
- BP3 – Contract Initiation Support;
- BP4 – EVMS Surveillance;
- BP5 – EVMS Review for Cause.
DCMA is now using the term “DCMA EVMS Compliance Metrics (DECM)” instead of referring to them as the Earned Value Analysis System (EVAS). DCMA uses a Change Control Board (CCB) to maintain and update their set of metrics following their BP7 – EVMS Compliance Metric Configuration Control. Should you have contracts that require DCMA surveillance, you may want to routinely visit the DCMA EVMS Compliance Metric web site to make sure you have the latest version of the metrics.
Quality Data is Critical
Regardless of the version of the test metrics, the message is unchanged. Implement useful project control processes that focus on creating and maintaining quality schedule and cost data for the life of the project.
Why is quality data so important? It is a good indicator whether project personnel are invested in the project and are actively using the data to plan and manage the work effort. This is often dependent on whether project personnel have the appropriate processes and procedures in place so they know what they should be doing and who is responsible for doing what when. DCMA uses the data metrics and thresholds to identify higher risk process areas so they can discuss what they are seeing with the contractor for potential corrective action.
You can take advantage of the same approach. Verifying the quality of the schedule and cost data can provide an indication whether your EVMS or project control system is providing timely and relevant information. Just like your government customer, you need credible schedule, budget, and forecast data to make effective management decisions.
One of characteristics of quality data is traceability. For example, the resource loaded schedule activities should be telling the same story as the related time phased work package data in the cost tool. There should be a single source for the data – is the cost data a direct result of the schedule data? Is the activity start date, end date, and duration the same as the related work package in the cost tool? Are the total base resource values such as hours the same? Does the current schedule status align with the earned value claimed for the work package? A number of the DCMA test metrics are looking for these types of disconnects between the schedule and cost data.
Another process area where data traceability is often a challenge is change control. Data quality checks such as DCMA’s test metrics frequently highlight instances where the budget at completion in the work authorizations and current time phased budget data for an element of work do not match. The disconnects are often a result of baseline change requests. Maintaining traceability through a historical archive of why a budget change was required, approved changes, and work authorizations is imperative to maintain a credible budget baseline. How else do you know whether project personnel are arbitrarily changing the budget data without authorization?
The worst-case scenario is when project personnel are manually exporting, manipulating, and importing data back into the cost tool to produce customer performance reporting deliverables. It is impossible to determine the basis for the data. Any level of data traceability is lost. This often happens when project personnel don’t understand why it is important to maintain a certain level of project control discipline or they don’t know how to properly use the software tools.
Producing or maintaining credible estimate to complete data is another area where there are often data traceability issues. This was discussed in another blog on Why Estimates at Completion Matter. When project personnel take shortcuts to produce estimate to complete or estimate at completion data, they destroy the management value of the data. Why? They lack the basis to substantiate the estimate values. The ability to produce a realistic estimate at completion supported with data driven basis of estimate (BOE) matters because management needs useful information so they can proactively address project issues. It can make the difference whether a company makes a profit or incurs a significant financial loss.
The Right Software Tools Can Help
In addition to useful processes and procedures with clearly defined project control roles and responsibilities, project personnel need software tools that can help them create quality data easier and faster.
That’s where end-to-end software tools from ProjStream can make a difference. With BOEMax and EVMax or MaxTeam, you can easily produce and maintain a project’s time phased cost data in one database from inception to closeout. ProjStream’s tools are designed to help you maintain data traceability starting with the BOE rationale and documented source data for the proposal cost estimate. With verifiable source data for your cost estimate, you make it easier for your customer to evaluate your proposal. The built-in workflow process helps the proposal manager to track who is responsible for what and where things are in the proposal development process. BOEMax even tracks those “stealth” changes that occur so you know who changed what when.
After contract award, the project control team can use the BOE details and time phased cost estimate data from BOEMax to quickly produce a project’s performance measurement baseline (PMB) in EVMax or MaxTeam. Throughout the project execution phase, the built-in workflow process automatically produces data-driven artifacts that track the details of a proposed change, an approved change merged into the budget, and updated work authorization. No more disconnects between project artifacts because project personnel don’t have to use different tools to maintain data in different databases.
You can use the built-in schedule integration to produce schedule driven budget and estimate to complete time phased cost data. You can also use the current schedule status as the basis for the work package earned value claimed. Your schedule and cost data are always in alignment.
Even better, with ProjStream’s shared database for proposal and project cost management data, you can produce a variety data views so you can proactively manage the resource demands for pending new contracts and existing projects.
What are you waiting for? Call or schedule a demo today. See how ProjStream’s tools can help your proposal teams or project personnel create and maintain quality data easier and faster from inception to completion.