Tools - EVM Concept is more important then formulas -

Yes, EVM (Earned Value Management) is tough and I rarely see organizations following it as taught by PMI since there is not a lot of info on it and the terminology can confuse executives.  

Key thing is to ensure you can follow the basic concepts of EVM.  Every PM should be able to answer these questions at any time (have the answers in your back pocket).  If you don't have a software that helps manage this, then create an excel spreadsheet and collect, track, monitor, trend and forecast this valuable data.

EVM questions include:


EVM formula utilized

1)     Are we ahead or behind schedule?
1)     Schedule Variance (SV)
2)     How efficiently are we using time?
2)     Schedule Performance Index (SPI)
3)     When are we likely to finish work?
3)     Time Estimate at Completion (EACt)
4)     Are we under or over our budget?
4)     Cost Variance (CV)
5)     How efficiently are we using our resources?
5)     Cost Performance Index (CPI)
6)     What is the project likely to cost?
6)     Cost Estimate at Completion (EAC)
7)     Will we be under or over budget?
7)     Variance at Completion (VAC)
8)     What will the remaining work cost?
8)     Estimate to Complete (ETC)

Then also, start to use the formula SV = Planned Time (PT) minus Elapsed Time (ET), then this can help when you are more focused on time vs money.

A good link that I like that has a lot of detail is:

PMTip - Organizational Design & PM Interactions Part 2 of 2 -

Advantages vs Disadvantages of different organizational design structures:

Note: This is Part 2 and is a continuation of Part 1 (previous blog post), which defined and illustrated Functional vs Projectized organization designs.

Functional organization design:

  • clear authority by the functional managers
  • fosters technical competence and communication
  • fosters personal growth and teamwork within the functional group (strong professional development policies also usually exist)
  • easier to align corporate functional goals with departmental accountability
  • inflexible 
  • poor horizontal coordination (if resources in different departments) 
  • not customer focused 
  • resources have different agendas and priorities (in accordance to their functional manager not the PM) 
  • no clear ownership, accountability or authority for projects

Projectized organization design:

  • task oriented, very productive 
  • elimination of power struggles between people and projects
  • stronger project team cooperation and communication
  • aligns the team number to the current amount of work available
  • project oriented
  • buffered from external interruptions, side tracking and conflicts
  • mobilization and demobilization of staff difficult
  • does not foster long term team growth or professional development
  • difficult to share resources between projects
  • operational work is not allocated effectively

Matrix organization design:


  • Combines aspects of both Functional and Projectized to meet a middle ground that works within the culture of the organization
  • Resources will have a focus on multiple perspectives
  • Decisions can be faster
  • Information and reporting flows across organization
  • Prioritizations are more aligned with the company (not focused on a department)
  • Balance of power between PMs and Functional Managers
  • Decision support can be more supported and buy-in can be greater
  • More effective use of specialized resources
  • Increased conflict with senior management (lack of single power of authority)
  • Extended negotiations and possible increases in delays
  • Lack of Social culture within focused team environments

A supporting article that compares the different types (pros vs cons) can be seen at:

PMTip - Organizational Design & PM Interactions Part 1 of 2 -

We need to understand "Styles of Organizational Design" that exist since they directly impact how easy it will be to manage projects.

The organizational structure of a company and also of a project must both be clearly documented, communicated and understood by all project stakeholders.  An organizational structure defines how employees interact, relate, communicate and express levels of authority.  This will enable the stakeholders to manage expectations and also identify risks of the project due to the type of design that exists. 

A key concept to help identify what type of design structure that exists will relate to the type of managers that have the most authority.  The two main types of mangers defined within organizational structures include:
  • Functional Manager – specializes in a specific area of the organization and the general management skills required to execute on the associated operational goals, manages resources by following operational management practices.
  • Project Manager – has a general understanding of all aspects of general and project management, manages projects and people by following project methodologies and project management practices.
Organizations can generally be grouped into three types of organizational structures.
  • Functional; (functional managers have high authority)
  • Projectized; (project managers have high authority)
  • Matrix;

See video link below which discusses all three types:

Illustrated below is a Functional organization design:

All resources report into a Functional Manager (focused generally on an Operational Aspect of the Business). This type of design is most prevalent in larger, older, more established organizations.  This design is also known as hierarchical.

Illustrated below is a Projectized organization design:

All resources report into a Project Manager. This design has project staff separated from other departments and only grouped in accordance with projects.  If not on a project, employees may be placed within Human Resources temporarily with a focus on professional development (or also known as “on the bench”). 

Matrix organization design:

The third type of Design is the Matrix Design and can be described as "somewhere in the middle between Functional and Matrix".  The Matrix blends aspects of both designs and thus can also be called Strong Matrix (closer to the Project Concept) or Weak Matrix (closer to the Functional Concept). It is generally identified by having a "project management office" where all the PMs report into.  Resources still report into a functional manager but it is formally recognized that parts of their capacity are managed by the PM and the PM has a level of authority over the resources (e.g. the PM takes gives input that impacts a resources performance review or bonus, etc).

For more support (good amount of detail from a Methodology Book) check out the link:


NOTE:  check out the next/upcoming Post - Organizational Design & PM Interactions Part 2 of 2 to see the Advantages vs Disadvantages of the types of organizational design structures.

Thoughts - Bottom up Objectives -

Bottom-Up Strategy is a great approach for better Innovation, ROI, Delivery and Simplicity.

Technology & information access helps enable this. An Economic Revolution has started, where people at all levels can take on more, have access to all levels of data, be empowered and get it done. 

The legacy systems that need Senior Executives to give all the direction, then middle management to carry out the deliverables by micro-managing the resources - is fading quickly.

Today people at the lower levels are empowered by the flatness of Organizational Design and also the culture of the younger generations (can do attitude - ready to question anything and do their own independent research).
Full-time employment with small to mid sized companies is becoming more desireable then Big Corporations.

This shift of doing more with very limited resources and basically not a lot of formal authority and power can easily be leveraged in Project Management.

This type of culture and approach can help project managers, specifically in areas of:
  • maximize the ability to problem solve risks, 
  • validate the value of the objectives and keep them aligned to project goals, 
  • bring in new changes that will greatly improve the project success,
  • identify new projects for the company portfolio,
  • identify new ways to do things for less cost (faster, cheaper and better is possible if you get the people to buy in and have passion around it). 
Look to the bottom levels of your team more often and ask more open ended questions!

Great excerpt from an Article to make you think of the revolution we are now living:
- An engineer or designer gets work by offering skills via vertical marketplaces & barter exchange systems.  - An entertainer sells music, tickets and merchandise directly to fans online. 
- An underutilized car or apartment gets turned into cash via peer rentals.
Sometimes this is called the Shared Economy or Collaborative Consumption.  I propose that this trend is bigger than just sharing or collaborating.  It is in fact a revolution from the bottom-up. These ordinary Americans who might have in the past only relied on employment by big corporations, can now live or supplement their incomes through these forms of self-employment or funding – literally changing the dynamics of the economy and bringing about a revolution.

For complete article, check out URL below:
Business Review Canada

Thoughts - Social Media & PM -

Social Media tools are actively becoming part of PM Systems.  PM softwares must be able to chat, post, timeline, monitor, track, interact, exchange documents, dashboard goals/objectives & deliverables and do all of this in "real time".  And of course, the PM methodology must establish all processes that the software follows.

Often we think Microsoft Project is a PM Plan type of tool, this is not the case.  Yes, it is a powerful Schedule Management tool, but a true PM tool must have the functions mentioned above, similar to the Social Media World software packages.

Key functions of Social Media softwares are: communicate, communicate, communicate!

Essentially, with this function, you will have your finger on the pulse of the project, you will know how it "feels" vs getting a weekly report that stays within the tunnel vision of the template.  The more you communicate the faster you are able to transition from green, to yellow, to red and back and forth.  You understand so many complexities of the project that you are actually able to not panic and address issues as they pop up, and then get back to the baseline plan (or incorporate a change that gets you back on the path of the baseline plan).

Too often, a risk or issue occurs, and the first thing that has to happen is the team has to get up to speed on what is going on.  Not good.

NOW, on the other hand........Social media does also have some detriments, it does not often have clear objectives and ability to track and stick to them. Lots of time can be spent but is all over the place, so is difficult to justify business value. So if incorporating tools into the PM system, ensure that risk is addressed head on (many easy ways to do so).

MORE Good Reading.....
Social Media concepts & discussions are plentiful in a website created by a pioneer in the Virtual World (check out how many posts he actually has - in the Thousands.... WOW).

His name is Darren Cannell.  He uses technology to enable knowledge transfer (education and training) and is all about online communication .

Check out:

Also check out:

Also check out a video talking about Social media & Sales:

OR, if want to spend the time, research his blog and you will find that he shares a 30 Day process on creating social media presence.  If can't find all the parts in his blog, then contact him direct, he loves to share his knowledge.

Thoughts - Weekly Reports -

Does a Weekly Report bring value anymore?  Is there still ROI?
People do not like to document when things are going to go bad, OR have already gone bad.
People will generally not tell the entire story, and often only put minimal levels of details (is there really anyone out there that likes doing status reports?).

So why do we hound, beg, threaten, and plead for weekly reports to be submitted on time and within the requested format or template?

Check out the video below that asks some good questions and shares what we are doing to try and counter the issues around Project Management weekly reports:

In our project consulting company we are leveraging what the world has now embraced - We use a simple "Social Media" concept software module. It allows for short, simple, fast, Project Updates - posted any time from any device to audiences that you can customize.

The processes allow for posts to be shared about specific projects in a timely, accurate and transparent manner. The KEY is to keep it short, simple and regular.  This tool now helps to keep a finger on the pulse (you now know how the project "feels") and thus can raise the flag early if need be.

This helps the project manager not have to chase everyone to get their weekly report in.

Essentially, weekly reports are not needed, however, we still need to use monthly reports for EVM details and schedule/gannt chart software for work progress details.

The daily posts we are getting seem to have a much higher ROI then weekly reports.  Waiting to the end of the week also seems too long since things happen so fast in today's business environment.  People can now be more collaborative and react quicker and they also seem to enjoy "chatting about the project" in a more informal manner.

PS:   If you want to try a free demo contact or at least try some different approaches and let us know what you think or how it worked for you.

PMTip - Keeping Communication Simple -

We create many types of reports & communication mediums. Break it down to: SENDER - MESSAGE - RECEIVER.

Then go from there.  Make sure the communication tool is directly related to the type of information, audience and influencers present.  Don't over complicate and over administer it, humans have a short attention span and love to complicate things ;-) If creating reports, then simplify them where possible, differentiate between technical detailed reports and status/update reports (much more common).

Some tips are to identify the audience and the influencers that could impact how the information is received and interpreted. Ensure the communication tool aligns with the risks at hand.  Example influencers include:
  • related work experience;
  • knowledge/education;
  • expectation;
  • vested interest;
  • past experiences;
  • agenda (both personal and business related);
  • culture;
  • method (written, faxed, telephone, in person, multimedia);
  • understanding between needs and wants;
  • personality;
  • language;
  • technology comfort;
  • workload capacity;
  • conflicting prioritizations;
  • type of information (reports, updates, memos, meetings, change, issues, formal documents, emails, etc).