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Currently, I think I've got pretty good tools when it comes to measuring Budget (enough and more Excel docs that are regularly updated), Scope (against a mutually agreed upon statement of work), Time (detailed time records). I like that these can be all integrated in an EVM (Earned Value Management) system. However, I would also like to measure and track Quality.

Does it make sense to use EVM in relation to Quality? Quality, in this case, is briefly defined as completion of most important features, reported bugs per feature, and customer feedback (based on a scale of 1-5 on completed items).

Here's a quick description of the project itself: Custom Web Application, including mobile app development (price comparison software) Budget: $200K, Length: 6 months

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TechWire, Welcome to PMSE! There are many tools in a pm's toolbox to track performance. EVM is an integrating process to track schedule, budget and scope performance concurrently. The tools you need depend on what aspects of a project you want to track (e.g. Six Sigma for Quality). What aspects of a project's performance do you want to track? –  Mark Phillips Jan 30 '13 at 21:09
    
Thanks, Mark. I guess you can tell I'm a brand spanking new PM :) To be honest, I was hoping to get a sense of the tools to track various factors (scope, budget, time + customer satisfaction, resource usage). Is this too broad or subjective? –  TechWire Jan 30 '13 at 21:15
    
Welcome to PMSE! As currently written, your question is a polling question, and may be closed as too broad. You could improve your question a lot by providing context about what specific indicators you want to track, and providing some information on what has or has not worked for you so far, and why. –  CodeGnome Jan 30 '13 at 21:56
    
TechWire, yes, that's too broad of a perspective. You could accomplish that by doing a Google search, taking some PM classes or reading some pm books. This site is meant to help solve specific challenges or answer very specific project management questions. –  Mark Phillips Jan 31 '13 at 0:42
    
Okay, updated the question. Let me know if that clears things up a bit. I've read quite a bit of material, so my question came up because I couldn't find an answer on Google (or other materials). –  TechWire Jan 31 '13 at 7:19

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Earned Value Management Isn't a Quality Control Framework

In the "Limitations" section for EVM, Wikipedia clearly states:

EVM has no provision to measure project quality, so it is possible for EVM to indicate a project is under budget, ahead of schedule and scope fully executed, but still have unhappy clients and ultimately unsuccessful results.

While one could argue that a well-controlled project is less likely to have quality issues, the fact is that any effect on quality will be (at best) a tangential side-effect. It may be possible to shoehorn quality controls into EVM by by pegging various earning rules to ancillary quality controls—in much the same way that agile methods bake quality controls into the "definition of done"—but explicitly controlling for quality is simply outside the scope of EVM's design goals.

Comparison with Six Sigma

Contrast Earned Value Management with another framework like Six Sigma, which is explicitly designed for quality control. For example, the Wikipedia entry says (emphasis mine):

Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods[.]

What It All Means

No one says you can't perform quality control while using Earned Value Management. It just means that EVM, by itself, does not control for quality.

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I agree and I even question the "scope fully executed" statement. Scope is verified and validated BEFORE the EV data collection process; it triggers it. Before BCWP can be claimed, scope needs to be v&v, then the result of that feeds the process to update BCWP for the necessary calculations. –  David Espina Feb 1 '13 at 11:57
    
Appreciate the well laid out answer! –  TechWire Feb 1 '13 at 14:32

Regular reporting of status within the team is a tool to track performance, and is probably the most commonly used. Unfortunately it isn't a mathy approach, which can cause some stakeholders undue angst.

CodeGenome provided some links regarding Earned Schedule in his answer to a question of mine. Willl also provides links regarding control charts in his answer to the same question.

If you are looking at Agile approaches there is the concept of burn-down charts, which is conceptually similar to EVM.

When looking for a tool to use remember that tracking project performance is a means to an end, so whatever tool you use needs to do well only those things you need it to do well. So think about the key aspects of your project that need to be monitored (scope? schedule? budget? benefits? quality?) and figure out what your ideal tool/process/approach needs to offer before you select a tool. Maybe you need to use several tools, maybe just one. It all depends on your project's needs.

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No, at least not directly. Earned value is strictly a cost control tool and, to a slightly lesser degree, a schedule control tool. However, what EV provides are early clues of an accruing variance and, with analysis, markers that allow you to predict with a good degree of confidence where you are headed. The result of those markers is the action to find out why you are accruing variances (either favorable or unfavorable), which may enable you to uncover issues with development as it relates to quality. But you have other tools, e.g., control charts, inspections and audits, to directly uncover quality issues and threats.

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David, I would take issue that EVM is strictly a cost control tool, though that may be how it is often implemented and used by auditing agencies. EVM and its various flavors (like ES) is an integrating process of scope, budget and schedule. It gives everyone from engineers to program managers to stakeholders a common language to develop a baseline, measure progress and track course corrections. –  Mark Phillips Jan 31 '13 at 15:42
    
I'll post a question! :) –  David Espina Jan 31 '13 at 15:48
    
No new question, I would be pretty much repeating this question. It will be interesting to see how others answer. –  David Espina Jan 31 '13 at 16:03
    
Very interesting... I too would like to see other responses based on this. Maybe you should post a new question, David :) Mark, what's ES? –  TechWire Jan 31 '13 at 17:15
    
Earned Schedule. A technique developed by Walter Lipke 10 years ago to augment the EVM approach to schedule management. See earnedschedule.com ,particularly the papers and presentation sections, or do a search on the EVM library at evmlibrary.org for Earned Schedule. –  Mark Phillips Jan 31 '13 at 17:50

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