Tag Archives: EVM

Extending Requirements Management for Business Planning

I’ve used SysML to model requirements and traceability for impact analysis, coverage, etc. for a fair amount of time; and across more domains than the typical use of CASE tools.  I’ve found them to be useful as methods to model governance and compliance requirements from regulatory, contract, and corporate policy, and have even used requirements models to model my own priorities as an easy load into traditional project management software (e.g. MS Project).  To date my applications of choice have always been based on the Eclipse Requirements Modeling Framework (RMF) as incorporated in the TopCased Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) tool-chain.  This project is now being migrated to PolarSys, though the requirements part appears to have been incorporated as a standalone component by ProR.

In traditional Microsoft fashion, a good set of tools based on Collaborative Systems Requirements Modelling Language (CSRML), A goal-oriented markup for requirements modelling, has recently come to my attention.

If there’s anything that you’d need a formal requirements model for, but without the overhead of a full MBSE approach – it’s certainly worth looking into.  Questions regarding the point of modeling non-engineering activities are relatively predictable, and I’d like to address a couple of the more common asked by those represented in the Venn diagram below.

Actors in Enterprise Compliance


“What’s wrong with traditional BPM, CASE, RM, or other IDE type of tools?”

Unfortunately, Papyrus, TopCased, and many other similar applications are (a) less than user friendly for those without a background and understanding in UML (b) limited in scope of representation and access for collaboration.  From that perspective I wanted to think of alternative approaches, and the explosion in collaborative IDEs for software development leaves me hoping for a similar capability for modeling.

There are certainly no shortage of collaborative applications, and I’ll follow with some other shortcomings in the current SaaS market in a separate post. A prime example, however, of a promising entry are the IDEs that can provide tangible value to teams such as Cloud9 (use Chrome or FF).  This SaaS modeled IDE provides real-time visibility between members working on a project and is an incredibly efficient tool I use to work with remote developers when performing interviews & skills assessments.  While I’m of a firm belief that nothing quite replaces a face-to-face interview, being able to work through a real-world project allows me insight into the thought processes, and fit into the team dynamic they are being interviewed for … saving on travel costs, or the expense of a poor hiring decision.  Alternately something as simple as providing training, guidance, and leadership support to a remote employee who needs assistance with a concept is facilitated through such tools. Of course we’ve got many options for this, from simple screen-sharing and chat applications to full office suites such as: Office365, Google Docs, or Office 2010 (when backed by SharePoint) which all support real-time, multi-user, collaborative editors.  Extending the IDE as an asset into this domain solves two intermediate problems to having our requirements & models generate value for the organization.

  1. Since, enterprise architecture (EA) is often seen by personnel to be an esoteric representation of the organization and its processes.  Without open-access and visibility, ease of manipulation & methods of sharing EA data … it often ends up gathering dust in the corner, instead of being used to drive change. By enabling a collaborative and data-driven view of the enterprise (whether it be business process or IT architectures), the uses of data are opened up to creative possibilities & transparency can assist in the maintenance of information – preserving the original investment in investigation.
  2. Addressing requirements and developing plans for compliance within the enterprise is noble, but is only touching on the underlying need for traceability. With a more collaborative and diverse audience, the ability to trace requirements, their precedence & the source of those while mapping them against each other would only serve to bring a degree of transparency into the areas of Governance, Compliance & Risk (the subject of my next article).

“Why do I need to model my compliance needs? What’s wrong with using ABC?”

Some might accuse me of overcomplicating what is, on the surface, a relatively straightforward activity & question along the lines of “What are our compliance requirements, what policies & processes do we have to cover them, and how do we ensure our due diligence in validating adherence to those policies?”.  These might include topics in subcontractor management, ANSI EVM controls, IA Control requirements for PCI, or any other myriad set of complementary frameworks. In the typical firm, however, the necessary perspective to answer this line of questioning is rarely found in one person, or group, and without collaborative ideation … it’s incredibly likely that either (a) something will be missed or (b) that information isn’t effectively communicated to personnel.  In either instance, a failure of due diligence may leave a firm at risk.

Often I’ll see this documented as spreadsheets with a matrix of tabs, but this fails the traceability test & doesn’t lend itself to automation in case of audit.  Furthermore, it fails to offer extensibility at scale, doesn’t afford the organization an efficient method of communicating the requirements to program/project managers or their staff, dramatically increases overhead required to train and validate program execution, and increases the amount of rework or discovery needed by personnel who have a need of that data.

Blame it on my firm belief in the value of quantitative measurement and management as not only a “best practice”, but as a “required practice” for high-performing teams & organizations; or perhaps, my firm belief in transparent leadership and governance.  Enough people have heard my argument against the use of spreadsheets as a form of enterprise knowledge management, to understand my perspective as to why this is a bad idea & why the way the typical firm handles this today needs something different. That something needs to be easy-to-use for the small to mid-sized firm, needs to be able to tie into ERP and audit systems, and needs to be a collaborative method treating EA & Governance as reusable, transparent, and executable enterprise assets.

Though I say it jokingly to my colleagues, there is truth when I note that I’ll need to consider an MBA after I complete my PhD, and in all likelihood should follow that with a JD … there’s a niche opportunity for systems, and people that have a deep understanding between areas of business, law & technology.

“So what can we do about it?”

While I’m often accused of having big ideas … being a person capable of developing solutions to most of them is a core strength I rely on to demonstrate value through prototypes.  To that end, and based on my research/papers on the overall extent to which regulatory, contract, and corporate governance can cross organizational disciplines; I’ve begun modeling a SaaS solution for publication control mapping and compliance methods.  I’m through the generic model of compliance, and have a number of concepts on how to carry it forward, but am leaning towards a community-driven site and application that could tie to my parallel efforts in using predictive analytics for effort & cost estimation.  As each gets a bit more polished I’ll publish them under an open license; but in the meantime I certainly appreciate any insight, critique, or commentary on the subject.

So jump on in and share your thoughts.  Do you see this as a problem, or is it a niche need? How do you manage the myriad set of policies, procedures, and alignment to the governance frameworks in your industry? Any particular tools that you use, and how do you ensure that those processes are executable by staff? Do you have an orchestrated set of executable workflows, or is it tribal knowledge and lots of training (for hopefully compliant programs)?

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Posted by on January 5, 2014 in Business, Information Technology


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DoD Contracts and EVM Requirements: Worth a Second Look for Program Managers

I’ve written somewhat frequently on the benefits of quantitative management of IT programs, and specifically on some of the problems faced by defense contractors in aligning industry best-practice to ANSI-748 EVM control requirements.  I’m certainly not the only voice that’s advocated for reform on the acquisitions side of the house, and there are more than a few good perspectives in: alignment with Agile practices, Earned Value for Business Value, CMMI support for EVM, and the various tools and processes to make it all work together.  I’d therefore be remiss, if I didn’t open this post up by giving credit where it’s due. My perspective in this domain has been heavily influenced by Dale G., Glen B. Alleman, Paul J. Solomon, all the contributors on the StackExchange network, and a significant number of papers in both the academic and practitioner literature.  For anyone interested, I’ll post my reference library as a BibTex entry at a later date, or feel free to contact me on any site I frequent and I’ll package up the pertinent parts to send you.

The issue of compliance has been particularly troublesome for those projects that are effectively fixed in terms of cost (i.e. the contract award value) and resources (i.e. the bid LoE supporting the effort), while the scope of any particular work package tends to be flexible (e.g. sustainment, maintenance, or Agile development). Though I’ve argued that the DMCA guidance and intent statement in conjunction with the ANSI specification itself both allow for the use of Technical Performance Measures (TPMs) as a method of tracking progress-to-plan; the assignment of value to technical tasks, construction of the Integrated Master Schedule (IMS), and development of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is often constrained by the Statement of Work (SoW)/Performance Work Statement (PWS), or acquisition (AQ) process.

Thankfully, a footnote and minor change to the November 26, 2013 reissuance of DoD 5000.02, streamlines a lot of this effort, particularly for those programs under the $50M threshold. Though this particular language gives 180 days to redevelop the guidance, the interim instruction appears specifically intended to better facilitate the acquisitions process, and very well could be read to open the TPM method of metric utilization by aligning more to the Systems Engineering sub-processes.

DoD 5000.2 EVM Requirement - November 26, 2013

This change reinvigorates my original argument, and while the DCMA has allowed this type of cost-allocation to technical measures for some time; acquisitions (AQ) have been constrained in the application.  Realizing that many smaller programs bore an undue level of overhead generating financial metrics that didn’t necessarily trace back to the value being derived, and that numerous projects using EVM in a strict application to comply with AQ policy have failed provide effective measures for program managers, it seems that we’re finally getting there.  The option for AQ to define EV on technical measures can be used to tightly align industry best-practices (e.g. Agile, Kanbam, CMMI, ITIL, or ISO processes) back to the EVM standard, and enable us to price contracts more competitively.  Without the additional overhead and financial wizardry necessary to get a non-EVM program to report as if it were; and with the ability to “manage by the numbers” it opens an avenue for much more productive programs, and reduction in taxpayer funded waste.

The biggest surprise, however, lies in what’s missing.  A close look at the EVM requirements themselves, as outlined below shows that task orders above $20M but below $50M must use a system that’s compliant with the EVM guidelines (and there for the optional use of TPM), but not a formally validated EVMS.

For the near-future, it would certainly appear that smaller projects, and particularly those supporting more fluid requirements that are realistically best-described as Level of Effort and/or Time and Materials (T&M) types of contracts, have had the noose loosened a notch.  I’d certainly advise any PM in the industry that’s under this requirement to take a closer look … you might find that you’ve got the opportunity to improve not only your reporting, but the processes themselves to gain efficiency and analytic intelligence for continuous improvement.

As with everything else on this site, I hope to hear your thoughts. Contact me, or leave your comments below & I’ll do my best to get back to you.


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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Business


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