Earned Value Management certification comes in two flavors: individual and organizational.
Project managers can get certified through a range of professional bodies and training providers offering accredited courses. But even with all your team credentialed, your organization still may not meet the standards required for EVMS contract-level certification. In this article, we’ll be looking at what it means to get certification at an organizational level.
Many government agencies require contractors to use an EIA-748 compliant Earned Value Management System before critical parts of the project are completed. You can win a contract before the EVMS is in place, but your organization will then have to evidence you can meet the contractual requirements and stand up your system in a short period of time.
What’s the purpose of EVMS certification?
The point of EVMS certification is to make sure your systems and processes meet the standard required to adequately manage and control projects. The agency wants to be sure that your team can monitor and manage program cost, keep on top of the schedule and track technical performance throughout the project lifecycle.
The certification also offers a record that adequate due diligence was (and is being) carried out. The process aims to provide confidence in the system, which is essential when such large amounts of money – often public money – are being invested. If there is an audit in the future, both the contractor and the client can be confident their system was up to scratch.
What does certification prove?
You might think that EVMS certification proves the project is going to deliver on time, on budget and to the documented scope and quality levels, but that isn’t the case. It’s the system that is being assessed, not the program’s performance – remember, the program hasn’t really started yet in most cases.
The certification process demonstrates the system is capable of measuring progress effectively. It shows that you have policies and procedures in place to capture, analyze and act on data related to project performance. It is capable of producing the right data to help management make decisions, but it doesn’t take the decisions for you.
During the certification review, your organization will need to evidence that the quality of information coming out of the EVMS is fit for purpose. For example, that there are no data discrepancies or different values cropping up on reports.
What does certification involve?
The certification process looks at the system description and supporting procedures, along with the current implementation. The review team will expect to see a demo of your system. They’ll also want to talk to key employees to assess the general levels of awareness and understanding of earned value management.
How long does certification take?
EVMS certification is not a one-and-done event. You will host the reviewing agency and go through the review. That could take a couple of weeks. But it’s highly likely that the outcome will be a set of identified issues – not a certificate in the post (or on email).
The length of time it takes you to achieve earned value certification for the organization is highly dependent on how much effort your team puts in to address those issues. This is called the corrective action phase and it lasts as long as it lasts. It’s obviously in your best interests to address anything the review team have highlighted and make those corrections as quickly as possible.
Once you are confident that Corrective Action Requests have been adequately addressed, the review team can return to site for a follow up review. Hopefully at that point, they will be able to issue their final report and a certification letter.
What happens after certification?
Gaining Earned Value Management certification for your EVMS is only the start of things. Your organization will also have to evidence that the system is adequately maintained throughout the program. The client will probably hold surveillance reviews on an annual basis where they revisit your site and make sure standards are being adhered to. In other words, you have to ‘live’ earned value, not simply do enough to tick a box to get the certificate.
Another factor that might influence the future of your certification is what agency (or certifying authority) granted the certification in the first place. Let’s say you won a contract of $20m. You go through the certification process and are confident that you meet the standards. Your certification is awarded. However, if your company goes on to win a major program bid for $200m, another agency may expect to review your systems again – even though you are technically already certified.
The value of the contract award and the requirements of the agencies involved in the bid vary, so make sure you check what’s expected to avoid surprises.
It’s essential to secure compliance certification for your system if you want to work with government agencies and other large organizations, because this is often a condition of your contract. Yes, it’s tough to get, but it provides a level of assurance that isn’t present in non-certified businesses. It’s more than a tick in the box or a rubber stamp: it’s evidence that your business is geared up to deliver outstanding project performance because you have the control mechanisms and data sources in place to lead the work effectively and efficiently.
Should your project managers, control account managers and project controls personnel pursue individual accreditation and take a course? Absolutely. It will only help them gain a deeper understanding of the core earned value principles, boost their credibility at work and give them confidence to operate at the highest level.
You should also look at stepping up and gaining certification at the organizational level. If you’re now ready to take the next steps towards Earned Value Management certification, get in touch. We can save you a lot of time and energy because we’ve done it hundreds of times before.