Earned Value – The 2nd Avenue Subway (An Ironic Example?)

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Earned Value – The 2nd Avenue Subway (An Ironic Example?)

The 2nd Avenue Subway Project ("82.3% Complete")

The 2nd Avenue Subway Project (“82.3% Complete”)

Q. What’s wrong with this picture? 

I was walking down 3rd Avenue in Manhattan recently and saw this sign (paid for by your tax dollars, plus some NY graffiti added on!)

The sign says: 82.3% complete, which sounds pretty good. But anyone who knows NYC thinks of 2 things when the 2nd Avenue Subway Project is mentioned: LATE and OVER-BUDGET.  It seems like this project has been going on forever!  

So the sign is a bit of a “lie of omission.”  And taken by itself, this would be a funny example of what the PMI PMBOK calls EVM: Earned Value Management. Because while 82.3% might be accurate for percentage complete, it leaves out other KPI’s that EVM is all about:


  • When was the project supposed to be finished? 
  • How many days/months/years late is it? 
  • How much was it supposed to cost? 
  • How much money was spent so far?  
  • Is there enough funding available to complete the project?  (Or will it become the next Xanadu?)


What is Earned Value Management?

EVM is much more than just percentage complete. To fully understand the current status and health of a project, this PMI-favored technique offers more than a dozen formulas, each giving a microscopic view of one aspect of the project. Taken together, they provide the full spectrum of how your project is performing on metrics: Time, Cost and Scope (a.k.a., “The triple constraint”).

Five Ways My book The PM Answer Book helps with Earned Value

  1. I devote 22 pages to Earned Value in my Cost Management chapter.
  2. I walk through every EVM formula, using one easy-to-follow example of a project everyone can relate to: building a website with 4 web-pages.
  3. In addition to a detailed explanation of how each calculation is done, I also provide a box showing: “What this answer tells the PM” — this is valuable for the SCENARIO-BASED questions on the test (where it’s important to understand the purpose of each formula, not just the math)
  4. I provide a proven method I’ve come up with for memorizing the formulas:
  • I break the 6 key EVM formulas into 3 logical pairs, and
  • I also break the 6 key inputs to the formulas into 3 logical pairs

5. I provide a Fill-In-The-Blanks grid as a “Work Sheet” to help readers study and memorize the formulas (for your “Brain Dump” for the test)

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By | 2017-06-17T18:12:18-04:00 September 9th, 2015|Army PMP, NYU, NYU PMP, PMP|0 Comments

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