Agile and Earned Value – A Metric for PMOs?

This week I headed over to Arsenal football ground for the Project Controls Expo. It’s primarily aimed at people who work in the heavier project management industries like construction, manufacturing, utilities, oil & gas etc. As the name suggests it is all about project controls – planning, scheduling and the like.

origin_475392084I decided to pop in and see what the Expo would be like for PMO people (great if you’re working in these industries and these types of roles). Whilst there I decided to listen to a presentation from Sellafield called ‘Agile and Earned Value’. I initially thought, Sellafield and Agile?? Gawd this could easily be Mr Burns’ Springfield Nuclear Power Plant if Agile is being used! Luckily they are just using Agile for some of their software related projects, not for reactor building!!

I wanted to include a few highlights here and some of the slides because I know some PMOs are becoming more actively engaged in supporting Agile projects in their organisation. The earned value aspect of Agile projects could be one way the PMO could monitor these projects.

Stephen Jones, Programme Lead at Sellafield and Chairman of the APM PMC SIG carried out the presentation, he has also written a whitepaper to support it.

He did a brief overview of Agile projects (nothing that can’t be picked up elsewhere on the net) and talked about the backlog (all the key features of the software being developed) being listed as ‘stories’ (a description of a feature/what are we trying to achieve). Incidently if you’re interested in storyboards (used to describe what is to be done, what is in progress and what is done) in Agile projects he mentioned that they had used Microsoft.

For the earned value calculations on Agile projects, each story “each story is awarded a number of points based on the level of definition and effort required to deliver. A high number means the story is less defined and more effort is required.” For example, a storyboard, ‘enter login name and password’ would be awarded say 10 points. The whole backlog could be say 260 points and would also carry an estimated value in terms of ££.

The EV calculation is:

story points done *divided by* stories in the backlog

Here are the basic worked examples:

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He then went on to show the calculations of a ‘static backlog’ and examples where the backlog could increase or decrease based on customer requirements as the project progresses and how this impacts EV:


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In my eyes it seemed a simple, straightforward, pretty easy calculation that a PMO could add to its metrics for Agile projects. My question is, is it too simple to be useful?

No doubt those of you out there that are supporting Agile projects everyday will have plenty to add and plenty to say about it. If you do, why not add some of your thoughts to the comments below?

By the way, the next PMO Flashmob takes place next week, if you’re thinking about coming along, you need to book in advance to make sure you can get past the security at Barclays 🙂



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About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.

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