David SandovalDavid Sandoval has worked in various industries – federal government (military and defense), high technology, public utilities, and aerospace (over 25 years) – over the last 40 years. “Regardless of my position in the company hierarchy, once you’re given a job with a deadline and expectations, it becomes a project. So, I guess I can say, my life’s work has been affiliated in some way or another with project management,” he says.

What is earned value as it pertains to projects?

Earned value is defined simply as “budgeted work is accomplished, and the associated value of that work is earned.” If you sign up to do a job for, say, $100, this amount represents the budget. Once you claim the job is complete, the earned value is also $100. However, your question continues “as it applies to projects” is where the concept of earned value is convoluted. Industry experts tend to define earned value as “a metric or quantification of work accomplished (BCWP), allowing a comparison to work planned (BCWS) and actual cost (ACWP)  to determine contract performance and forecast a scenario for completion (EAC).” What they’re really defining is earned value  management. We need to be careful. Earned value is not intuitive, particularly for the beginner.

What do students learn in the Earned Value Management class?

Students learn very quickly that earned value is something foreign but with important applications. They quickly associate earned value with aerospace companies and large Department of Defense contracts. Students quickly learn that earned value, at least as I teach it, is going to be a very demanding course. I’m quick to convey to them that the course is not to be taken just “to check the box” or to punch a ticket. The contracts these students could be managing in the future involve taxpayer dollars and it’s important that they be good stewards of that money.

Are there any class highlights?

Like mathematics, earned value is received easier by some than others. My instructional philosophy has always been to run the risk of boring the more advanced student to ensure the struggling student “gets it” rather than risking some students getting lost and frustrated making for a terrible learning experience. I try to challenge the quick learner by having them present to the class frequently and making them accountable to their peers.

What is unique about the earned value management class?

This is somewhat difficult but I think it’s been the opportunity to witness the awesome technical capability of our country and the very, very smart people behind the innovations. I’m sure people will debate the merits or value of some of these developments but one can’t help but marvel at our country’s capacity.