The publication of The Origins and History of Earned Value Management in the August edition of PM World Journal (Vol. XI, Issue VIII) marks the end (almost) of a long journey.
This paper looks at the creation of earned value management (EVM) in the 1960s and its development and evolution through to the 2020s. However, the concept of EVM did not suddenly appear, the foundations of EVM were laid by previous generations, this paper demonstrates EVM is a synthesis of ideas and concepts some of which are hundreds of years old. The four precursors to EVM are the use of computers to calculate time schedules (CPM and PERT), sophisticated engineering cost controls, the use of breakdown structures to aid management, and the emergence of the concept of modern project management.
The use of computers to analyze project schedules in the late 1950s brought science to the management of time. There was a strong desire in the US Government for similar levels of sophistication to be applied to cost management on defense projects. This was the catalyst for the development of EVM in the early 1960s. The development of scheduling is traced in the papers listed in The History of Scheduling.
The discipline of engineering cost management was well established in the early part of the 20th century and its roots are much older. The limitation was the process of cost control using paper based manual systems tended to be retrospective. The development of cost engineering is traced in The History Cost Controls.
The idea of using breakdown structures to define, and then control, work also has a very long history. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is at the heart of EVM. The development of the WBS is described in The Origin of Work Breakdown Structures (WBS).
Finally, a project controls system needs a defined project to control. The concept of modern project management is relatively new, although again its roots are very deep. Its development is traced in Origins, and trends in, modern project management.
When these different strands of development were brought together in the USA in the 1960s, EVM emerged. Tracing each of the histories outlined above has been a fascinating journey. The papers and many of the source materials are freely available to download from the history section of the Mosaic website: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY.php.
The problem with studying history is every time you look at something, there’s other interesting facets to analyze and research. I have identified two areas where I’m likely to go next (but not for a few months):
– Documenting the early mainframe computer software that was used for CPM, PERT and EVM.
– In March 2023 Earned Schedule will be 20 years old, its development and the challenges will make an interesting story.
In the meantime download and enjoy The Origins and History of Earned Value Management: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P207_EVM_History.pdf
And…. If you find any errors, or have additional information let me know. I routinely update these papers as new information comes to light.