Technology tools

Although earned value management (EVM) efforts will hinge on the fortitude project managers show in developing upfront cost-containment tactics, a handful of software tools are available to help deploy EVM strategies.

Agencies ready to move forward can pick from several software packages, many of which are available using General Services Administration schedule contracts. Most of these applications are designed to combine scheduling, budgeting and standard office systems and the data needed to devise the EVM measurements that will be used to gauge a project's success.

EVM program management packages include Dekker's, Trakker, Welcom's Cobra, Primavera Systems' IT Project Office, C/S Solutions' WInsight and Pacific Edge's Project Office. Most of the packages weave together data on project and labor costs and information on cash flow and staffing requirements to generate fodder for EVM plans. Consulting firms such as Robbins-Gioia — which completed EVM work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection — also help agencies assemble EVM system components.

For instance, agency project teams may rely heavily on Microsoft Project and an internally developed budgeting system, but there may be no interface to link the two. "They might see cost as outside of these other activities," a notion that flies in the face of EVM, said Simon Dekker, president and chief executive officer of Dekker.

Though sold as off-the-shelf software, EVM packages should not be considered stand-alone applications, because of the integration work involved. Ruthanne Schulte, EVM software product manager at Welcom, said the packages also should not be used to simply inject EVM strategies into existing processes.

"Because EVM is very new to most agencies, many think they can buy a piece of software and have an EVM system in place," Schulte said. "But there is a very lengthy planning process that must take place and then a fair amount of integration with

other applications."

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