One of the challenges in today’s contracting environment is how you marry Agile planning and progress methods into an earned value system for reporting requirements. Deltek’s Cobra has out of the box functionality that allows you to directly connect your earned value system to your Agile environment, creating clear traceability between the two.
Deltek Cobra has a large variety of earned value and performance techniques that allow you to model pretty much any scenario for capturing where you are in performing scope. In addition to the standard ones like percent complete, milestones, apportioned, there is also one called “Earning Rules”. Earning rules are inchstones that you can define against a work package and assign a weight to without having to assign a date specific.
Depending on how you define your project structure you can have your work packages be the features you are creating. Then using the Earning Rules EVT setting, you can identify the stories and associated story points as the inchstones that the Agile system will use to track the progress.
When you are setting up your feature work package in Cobra (or importing from your schedule) you will select the EVT of Earning Rules.
This enables the Milestones/Steps tab. Click on that tab and you can add the associated stories with the feature as steps. For each step you will define the weight equal to the story points associated with the story.
Deltek Cobra takes the weight of the individual story and calculates what that means as a percentage of the budget associated with the work package. So in the example above, the total number of story points associated with the work package is 27 and the individual story for Step 2 represents 26% of the effort associated with the work package, or 7 out of the total 27 points.
So when it comes time to progress your project you simply import the stories completed as of the status date. In the example below, if you have completed the first two stories, you would have completed 11 story points, or in earned value terms you would have earned 41% of the budget (7 story points / 27 total story points). If the work package was originally estimated at $1,000 you would have earned $410 of that budget.
Where this really starts to shine is in the case where the stories, or story points, change as you go through a sprint. If, for example, you realize you need to add a story to deliver the associated scope of a feature, you can simply add the step and its associated number of story points. Cobra will do the math to figure out where you are from a percentage standpoint the next time you calculate earned value.
All of the information above can be imported from your schedule, your Agile tool of choice or a combination of both. The result is a really easy way to tightly integrate your earned value reporting with your Agile development progressing processes. You can eliminate the Excel sheets from which you pull numbers to manually update your earned value reporting. Now it is a direct feed.
One caveat on the earned value side is that if you change the story points associated with a work package, either through adding a new story or adjusting the points for an existing story based on lessons learned, you can potentially have negative earned value in the current period. This is not a Deltek Cobra issue. It is just the nature of earned value in an Agile environment. When you think about it, you should expect to see adjustments in your earned value in an environment where you are constantly refining the planning to deliver the best product possible.