Mission control II--the game of earned value


Earned Value is a well-established and current method in the world of project management, and last but not least a vital tool for project control in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge(PMBOK® Guide). On the other hand, the number of projects actually using Earned Value is rather small. Earned Value somewhat smells of being a method that is best limited to very large or even exclusively military projects. Success stories of satisfactory introductions of Earned Value controlling in small projects in everyday life are hard to find.

The goal of this presentation is to execute a project by means of a little simulation. In the process, changes and influences will occur during the project, which will then be reflected in the corresponding Earned Value indices. The project will be simulated simultaneously in several groups of participants and will also result in a comparative assessment in the end.

Important! This session will not teach the basics of Earned Value but is intended to show how these indices behave during the course of a simulated project environment. The participants should therefore have basic knowledge of Earned Value.

Basics of Earned Value

It would be inappropriate to describe the basic concept of Earned Value here again. Reference is made to the corresponding publications in the PMI® Bookstore, i.e. the book recommendations at the end of this paper.

Covered in particular will be the values PV (BCWS), AC (ACWP), EV (BCWP) as well as CPI, SPI, CV, SV, and EAC.

Simulation Concept

After a short introduction and a five minute recapitulation of the basic concept, the participants will be organized into groups. Subsequently, the rules of the simulation will be explained.

The participants will then play one simulation each in groups of four or five people. Therefore, the number of participants should be limited to approx. 60.

Actual Simulation

The groups of four or five people will be responsible for the decisions in the project and will influence the project course by their actions. Said influences in the project course are those on the triple constraint (cost, time, scope), and will therefore be reflected in the indices.

The basic goals of this simulation session are to show how even in a small project controlling is possible by means of Earned Value, how the decisions made actually influence the indices, and how these indices then allow for controlling the project.


Fleming, Q.W., Koppelman, J.M. (2000) Earned value project management (2nd ed.). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Kerzner, H., Ph.D. (2003) Project management - A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. (8th ed.). John Wiley and Sons.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2004, Thomas Wuttke, PMP
Originally published as a part of 2004 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Anaheim, California



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