Earned Value Management Applied to Small Projects Case Study

The project where the previously described EVM model was applied was in a IT project with the goal of deploying a business supporting infra-structure for a company in the financial market. The project FTE is 1.4 (FTE Max 3.5) with a total of 1135 hours.Illustrated bellow is the project lice-cycle and main deliverables.

The project plan consisted of a total of 34 tasks and 4 people composed the team.

Each Friday the timesheets were submitted so the project progress could be assessed using EVM at Monday morning. The indexes were analyzed at the phase level and predictions were generated.

For illustration only purposes we present bellow the progress of the EVM indexes at the top project level and the main responses.


The actual analysis was done at the phase level but this figure is a good example on how to act based on the CPI and SPI thresholds.

In this project the most important variable to control was cost and the project predictions were mainly cost estimates. The estimates were calculated at the phase level and added to get the total cost estimate. The evolution of the cost estimates are depicted in the graph bellow.

From the graph I would like to emphasize the following facts:

  • After 50% of the work the predictions were within a 10% interval;
  • The highlighted section of the graph depicts a zone that predicted a big cost overrun if we didn’t do anything. Due to the actions undertaken by close risk monitoring and control the final cost was well on target.

Next we will analyze the error rate of the predictions by looking at the accumulated frequency. The green line represents the frequency of the predictions with a specific error, and the red line the accumulated frequency of the predictions with an error inferior to a specific value.


The graph shows that 80% of the predictions had and error inferior to 10% when compared with the final cost.


The usage of EVM in small projects is most valuable since, was we could see in our case study, the oscillations in cost and schedule in small projects can happen very quickly, demanding very close monitoring and control.

EVM provides powerful early warnings that used in conjunction with a good risk management process enables project managers to detect deviations from the targets and act accordingly.

Based on the concepts of EVM the project manager can calculate predictions of cost and schedule that can be very accurate.

EVM can be applied to small projects by using methods that with little effort can provide the full power of EVM. These methods are:

  • Top-level EVM analysis done at the project life-cycle phases;50/50 rule or similar for progress report;
  • Using index thresholds triggers linked with a risk management process;
  • Use adjusted SPI instead of SPI.


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