Agile & EVM
by Lee Glover
At first glance, the use of EVM within an Agile environment seems incongruous. With Agile methodology reinforcing flexible iterative development, how does this fit with the baseline driven requirements and formal change control at the heart of an Earned Value Management System (EVMS)? How can we combine these systems? What are the benefits of this approach? We’ve heard these questions over and over at PM and EVM industry conferences. Some conferences have devoted entire educational tracks around the topic of Agile in EVM. And Industry committees have also started working groups with Agile and EVM pros to sort out a possible solution.
Significant delays, substantial overruns, and unrestricted scope creep are not viable in today’s business climate. Budgets are tight, and software development projects need to focus on successful delivery, all within time, cost and performance parameters. Successful use of Agile methodology results in cost savings for the customer. The use of an iterative development process sets the stage for a decrease in defects, improved productivity, and may result in improved delivery performance. An integrated EVMS offers inherent checks and balances to augment the various Agile methodologies and techniques including Scrum, Extreme Programming, Crystal, Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), and Kanban.
Use of EVM Rolling Wave planning to support the delivery of small-defined iterative pieces of functionality (Sprintsversus Remaining Backlog) is a key component in a shared EVM and Agile approach. Use of EVM cost and schedule control reporting, combined with the Agile development of small defined iterative pieces of functionality, may well result in a fidelity not seen with a singular approach. Combining the reporting capacity of an EVMS with the leaner flexible iterative process of Agile offers added scrutiny on cost, timing, and quality of deliverables. In EVM, baseline change control is crucial. In Agile, flexibility to allow for more frequent baseline changes, even in the current period is essential. How can we marry the two objectives and result in more meaningful progress and deliverables? We plan on remaining dedicated to this topic, as we believe there is a viable answer, marrying Agile methodologies and EVM. We’ve even combined EVM and Agile to manage our in-house projects and see them through to deployment. We are learning lessons along the way, and we are integrating these concepts into our PM tool features and templates, specifically in tools like Satellite (due out shortly). Check with AzTech concerning Satellite, and the complementary service TurboEV as we may provide a solution that works for your company or agency. More importantly, contact us with any questions or ideas related to Agile and EVM, as we are always interested in hearing how others view this new approach.