Earned Value Management Reporting Requirements
One of our team worked on a system upgrade and the project uncovered a huge number of automated reports being generated every month. They couldn’t find owners for the reports, or even any evidence that they were being looked at. The project team decided they would not migrate these reports into the new system, but they would rebuild them if anyone asked for them.
You can guess what happened: no one even noticed they were missing. No one had looked at those reports for ages, but they were still being churned out every month even though they were no longer relevant to the way the organization ran.
Earned value management systems create a lot of data. Project teams are expected to use that information for reporting. But what, exactly, are the reports required for a program using earned value for performance management?
Many reports can be automated, but they still benefit from human intervention for review – and, of course, they take time to set up. That’s why it’s important to make sure your project is equipped to provide the right reports to your stakeholders. They will get the information they need, and you will streamline project admin by limiting the overhead of reporting something that nobody reads.
What reports are required
Project reporting should help decision-makers understand what decisions are required, and provide the right information to help them make those decisions (or at least ask the right follow-up questions). With that in mind, many contracts will mandate the reports expected to provide clarity from the beginning.
Check your contract and your client’s expectations to see what reports they require. Often, government projects will require:
- A cost performance report (CPR)
- A cost/schedule status report (C/SSR)
As these are the two main earned value management progress reports in government contracts, those are the ones we are going to focus on next.
Cost Performance Report
The CPR is a comprehensive report that draws on the data in the earned value management system. You are normally expected to produce it for the client once a month. Check the time frame that the monthly report is expected to cover as it needs to represent a whole month’s activity from the close of the accounting period. Typically, the past month’s accounts are not closed until a few days into the next month, so your system may always be reporting a little bit longer in arrears that you might like.
It covers 5 areas, although your client might not need them all.
Work breakdown structure. This section of the report covers each WBS item and a summary of progress that period, progress overall and a forward view of the forecasted values that are expected for the WBS element at the point the project closes. Looking at this report page provides information on current and cumulative schedule information and the same for budget.
Organizational categories. This section of the report provides the same information, but aggregated at an organizational level. It’s useful for programs where there is more than one supplier as you can see supplier performance on a page.
Baseline. As you’d expect from the name, this section of the report is all about the various project and program baselines and what has changed.
Resources. It’s important to track capacity and availability, so the resourcing section of the report is a way to do that. It shows forecasted hours and months for the different roles and is normally structured by organization.
Variance analysis. Finally, there is a section on variance. Some of this information is numeric and pulled directly from the EVMS. Some is narrative and added by the project manager. Variance thresholds would have been set at the beginning of the work, so this report looks at anything that falls outside of tolerance. The team will be expected to explain what happened to create the variance, what the impact has been (or will be) and what actions can be taken to address the problem and bring the project back into the control parameters that have been set.
The client, or contract, will be able to tell you if any of these sections are not required on a regular basis.
Cost/Schedule Status Report
Given that the CPR is so comprehensive, you might be wondering what else could be covered in yet another document. There really isn’t much additional data in this status report. Instead, think of it as a summary that highlights the main important data items on a cumulative basis.
The report is helpful for stakeholders who need to see the whole project’s progress on a page, including the forecasts for cost and schedule at completion.
While the two reports above cover a lot of requirements, there may be other documentation to produce on a regular basis for the purposes of reporting. For example, you may have risk reporting, internal or formal project reviews or ad hoc reports requested by the client or stakeholders. They may be an expectation to hold quarterly progress reviews and produce reports from those discussions. The reports you need to provide will most likely be listed as deliverables in your contract.
EVM reporting timetables
The contract and any other relevant documentation may set out a timetable for reporting which as the contractor, you’ll be obliged to follow. It could look something like this:
- Upload the performance data.
- The project director reviews the data in the next couple of days.
- Project and program managers review and compile performance data in parallel, with the goal of preparing a monthly project status report.
- When all approvals, assessments and reviews are complete, finalised data is submitted to the executive stakeholders.
One of the major reasons for doing reports is to provide traceability. If the baseline for the project changes, or contingency is used in some way, that should be mentioned in the report so changes can be tracked back as required. Then you can see the approval steps and the history of how that change was decided upon and incorporated into the rest of the project.
This article has been a high-level overview of the expectations that are common for earned value management reporting requirements. However, every project is different. We recommend you get support for the data analysis and reporting on your project so you can be confident it is providing both you and the client with exactly what’s needed to keep the project on track.