MANAGING RISK OF DELAY – Critical Path and Earned Value Management (Part 6)

This post is the sixth in a series of discussions regarding various aspects of time management as it relates to the risk of delay.  More specifically, we have titled the series MANAGING RISK OF DELAY, since we focus heavily on the managerial aspects of program / project management.  This post addresses some ideas regarding the integrated nature of time management using critical path and earned value management.

The challenge associated with managing all (critical and non-critical path) work is common to virtually all Lump Sum Turn Key (LSTK), Engineer Procure Construct (EPC) and other similarly executed projects.  In addition to the normal issues associated with bulk progress, actions or inactions by the owner can add considerable complexity to this challenge.  Over the past seven years, M&M has program/project managed five projects exceeding $100 million (USD) in investment value (total installed cost).  Thus, practical/practioner experience is engendered in this discussion/post.

Time and progress management has proven to be a three part managerial challenge, with the three parts closely linked.  These three performance indicators are:

  • Critical Path management
  • Earned Value (e.g. bulk progress, progress S curves) management
  • Productivity management.

In a recent (M&M) presentation and paper before PMI College of Scheduling, this subject was addressed.  A discussion during the presentation indicated that many participants were interested and showed recognition of the managerial value.  The M&M paper and PowerPoint will be posted at M&M website at a later date.   Another PowerPoint (Earned Value Management) will be posted once the presentation occurs at the Project Management Institute (PMI) Earned Value Management Community of Practice (EVM CoP)  later in May.

Critical path management is generally an outgrowth of the typical planning and scheduling (programming) work.  Reports and graphics are easily extracted from popular software tools and programs.  Since this managerial approach is commonly and widely discussed, further discussion of this discipline and approach will be left to another post or comments on this post by others.

Kerzner publication PROJECT MANAGEMENT A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling offers the following regarding Earned Value Management:

The EVMS (Earned Value Management System) emphasizes prevention over cures by identifying and resolving problems early.  The EVMS is an early warning system allowing for early identification of trends variances from plan.  The EVMS provides an early warning system, thus allowing the project manager sufficient time to make course corrections in small increments.  It is usually easier to correct small variances as opposed to large variances.  Therefore, the EVMS should be used continuously throughout the project in order to detect the variances while they are small and possibly easy to correct.  Large variances are more difficult to correct and run the risk that the cost to correct he large variance may displease management to the point where the project may be cancelled.


A variance is defined as any schedule, technical performance, or cost deviation from a specific plan.  [Snip]  The scheduling variance provides a comparison between planned and actual performance but does not include costs.  (Kerzner publication)

PMI publication Practice Standard for EARNED VALUE MANAGEMENT provides a useful overview:

Earned Value Management (EVM) has proven itself to be one of the most effective performance measurement and feedback tools for managing projects.  It enables managers to close the loop in the plan-do-check-act management cycle.


EVM provides organizations with the methodology needed to integrate the management of project scope, schedule, and cost.  EVM can play a crucial role in answering management questions that are critical to the success of every project, such as:

  • Are we ahead of or behind schedule?
  • How efficiently are we using time?
  • When is the project likely to be completed?
  • [Snip]

If the application of EVM to a project reveals that the project is behind schedule or over budget, the project manager can use the EVM methodology to help identify:

  • Where problems are occurring
  • Whether the problems are critical or not
  • What it will take to get the project back on track. (Practice Standard)

Project Management Institute (PMI) Earned Value Management Community of Practice (EVM CoP) provides the industry with resources in this essential area of project management.  Key EVM CoP resources will be cited in this blog’s Resource Center updates and additions.  Other key resources (AACE, CII and others) are useful and blog users are encouraged to cite quality resources on this subject.

The discussion above is intended to emphasize that one tool (e.g. critical path analysis and reporting, earned value analysis and reporting, or productivity analysis and reporting) is not the optimum, complete or exclusive answer to professional project time management.  Contemporaneous reporting on these and other managerial indicators (Key Performance Indicators, KPI) is evaluated and considered together to create the complete understanding.

Time-Management Strategy is the higher level challenge.  The Time-Management Strategy must be integrated with progress and claims management strategy.  More specifically, the time-related issues must be harmonized and synchronized with the progress and claims strategy.  The specific strategy, process and procedures are driven by the project specifics.

When M&M undertakes an assignment involving program/project development, planning and/or management, we integrate earned value management practices and procedures into project execution.

Good luck and let us all attempt to approach the issue of Time- Management strategy with all the factors in an integrated manner (critical path progress, bulk progress or EVM, and productivity) relative to other related aspects of program and project execution planning.

It is important to note that McLaughlin and McLaughlin [M&M] is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice.  M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support.  The Resource Center is for the convenience of blog visitors and M&M does not offer this for commercial purposes.  For further information on M&M services, please see