Different statistical process control (SPC) approaches were proposed over the years for project management using earned value management/earned schedule. A detailed examination of these approaches has led us to express a need for a unified framework in which to test and compare them. The main drivers for this need were the lack of a formal definition for a state of control, the unavailability of a benchmark dataset, the absence of measures to quantify the SPC performance and the lack of consensus on how to overcome and test the normality assumption. In this paper, we present such a framework that combines a classification from empirical data, a known project dataset, a sound simulation model and two quantitative measures for project control efficiency. Four SPC approaches from prior literature have been implemented and an exhaustive experiment was set up to compare and to discuss their value for the project management practice.
Project monitoring and the related decision to proceed to corrective action are crucial components of an integrated project management and control decision support system (DSS). Earned value management/earned schedule (EVM/ES) is a project control methodology that is typically applied for top-down project schedule control. However, traditional models do not correctly account for the multivariate nature of the EVM/ES measurement system. We therefore propose a multivariate model for EVM/ES, which implements a principal component analysis (PCA) on a simulated schedule control reference. During project progress, the real EVM/ES observations can then be projected onto these principal components. This allows for two new multivariate schedule control metrics (T2 and SPE) to be calculated, which can be dynamically monitored on project control charts. Using a computational experiment, we show that these multivariate schedule control metrics lead to performance improvements and practical advantages in comparison with traditional univariate EVM/ES models.
Recent literature on project management has emphasised the effort which is spent by the management team during the project control process. Based on this effort, a functional distinction can be made between a top down and a bottom up project control approach. A top down control approach refers to the use of a project control system that generates project based performance metrics to give a general overview of the project performance. Actions are triggered based on these general performance metrics, which need further investigation to detect problems at the activity level. A bottom up project control system refers to a system in which detailed activity information needs to be available constantly during the project control process, which requires more effort. In this research, we propose two new project control approaches, which combines elements of both top down and bottom up control. To this end, we integrate the earned value management/earned schedule (EVM/ES) method with multiple control points inspired by critical chain/buffer management (CC/BM). We show how the EVM/ES control approach is complementary with the concept of buffers and how they can improve the project control process when cleverly combined. These combined top down approaches overcome some of the drawbacks of traditional EVM/ES mentioned in the literature, while minimally increasing the effort spent by the project manager. A large computational experiment is set up to test the approach against other control procedures within a broad range of simulated dynamic project progress situations.
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