The Control Account Manager role is integral to using Earned Value Management in your organization. The person in that role is responsible for the delivery of a chunk of the project or program, with full oversight over the cost, schedule and technical performance. In other words, the buck stops with them for the piece of the project that they are delivering. (We have a detailed article on the responsibilities of a Control Account Manager, if you need more information.)
In this article, we’ll be looking at what a Control Account Manager needs to do for a review.
What sort of review?
There are a number of different types of reviews that your project, program or Earned Value Management System (EVMS) needs to go through as part of contract compliance. These include:
- The Integrated Baseline Review (IBR)
- EVMS certification review
- Compliance review
And the agency or organization you are working with may mandate other kinds of assessments that demonstrate you are meeting AINSI guidelines and contract requirements. For example, you may be expected to attend other reviews to evidence that you have taken action as a result of a discrepancy report or other finding.
The big event for the CAMs on your team is the IBR.
What is an IBR?
We’ve covered that in other articles, so let’s just briefly give a definition here.
An Integrated Baseline Review is an event that allows you to show you have a thorough understanding of the contract requirements.
It’s more than a single meeting: you have to demonstrate that there is an integrated baseline for the project/program that incorporates cost, schedule and technical requirements. The integrity of your overall management system is evaluated. The auditors will want to understand your configuration management system and talk to key staff about how they use the system and interpret data from it.
That’s where the Control Account Managers come in.
How a CAM should prepare for a review
Preparation is the most important thing when it comes to preparing for any EVMS review. The role of the Control Account Manager is critical to the success of the review, so it pays to be prepared – literally, because the better prepared you are, the more likely it is you will sail through the review and thus be saddled with fewer action items or findings to work on. That will save you time and money after the event, leaving you free to focus on serving your client and delivering the best project outcomes you can.
So what sort of things does a CAM need to know in order to talk confidently during a discussion with auditors? We’re glad you asked! During the review conversations, the CAM should be able to:
- Demonstrate that they understand the scope of their Control Account (or Accounts, if they have several)
- Articulate how their cost, schedule and technical management approach meets the requirements in the contract’s Statement of Work (SOW), and talk about the rationale of why those approaches were chosen if necessary
- Talk about the risks related to the Control Account and how they are being managed
- Articulate the assumptions related to the Control Account, why they were made and how they are being actively managed
- Demonstrate how the scope of work under their control, and their project schedule are integrated within their Control Accounts and with other Control Accounts
- Evidence that they understand the wider management approach for the work and the business processes in use to deliver the project
- Talk about Earned Value principles and how they are used to manage the Control Account
- Understand the business processes in place to manage the work
- Demonstrate that they are acting with ownership for their aspects of the work and that they can operate in a leadership capacity within their remit.
If that sounds like a lot, you’d be right. The good news is that Control Account Managers can draw on the wide array of supporting materials and documents created by the Earned Value Management processes and system, so they don’t necessarily have to have every tiny item in their memory.
What documents can help prepare for a review?
There are lots of documents that can help the whole project team prepare for the upcoming auditors’ visit. It will help to have these organized in advance and reviewed with the whole team. When we support organizations to prepare for EVMS reviews, we typically work with relevant key staff to make sure they have all the documentation required to hand, structured in a way that presents a consistent narrative.
Some of the documents you will want to have available include:
- The project organization chart
- WBS and WBS dictionary, including a mapping that shows WBS elements and how they relate to the Statement of Work
- Responsibility Assignment Matrix
- Work authorizations
- Integrated Master Plan
- Integrated Master Schedule
- Control Account Plans
- Variance analyses
- Risk reporting.
If you don’t have all of these (or at least, not in a state that you would be prepared to show a government agency audit team!), then don’t worry: we can help get everything aligned and internally consistent so everything is telling the same story.
Ultimately, the auditors are looking to assess the depth of knowledge that Control Account Managers have, because that serves to evidence that the EVMS is embedded, understood and will be used in the best possible way to manage project performance.
During the review, the CAM’s role is to show up, talk honestly about their part in the project, share their knowledge and showcase how they are using the EVMS to make sure the project is delivered in an efficient way. Transparent, open dialogue is necessary to present an honest picture of how the organization is working, and that’s why we recommend and support clients with mock interviews as part of our Earned Value Management services. Mock interviews give everyone a chance to practice ‘out loud’ and to think through how best to talk about their work. Build your team’s confidence and save yourself time in the long run by investing in adequate prep, and your Control Account Managers will be better prepared for the real thing.
Find out more about how we can help you get confidently ready for a review. Call us now (703) 910-2600.