Magazine article PM Network

Silly CARs

Magazine article PM Network

Silly CARs

Article excerpt

Vrooom! Rrrrrt! Crash!

The 1977 Datsun F10 had to be one of the silliest cars ever made by a major automotive manufacturer. Not only was it chronically underpowered, but the design-especially the three-door hatchback version-was so ugly it could be used to frighten birds away from wherever it was parked.

Other silly cars are afflicting the project management industry, and something must be done. I'm referring to corrective action requirements (CARs), the devil-spawn of auditors who review project control systems.

A team of auditors was grilling a friend of mine over his cost performance report for a large software project.

"There's an error in your earned value calculation. The budgeted cost of work performed does not equal cumulative actuals subtracted from the budget at completion," the auditor began.

"Because that's not the way you calculate earned value."

"I'm a Project Management Professional (PMP®)!" she stormed.

"I don't care if you're Gary Humphreys, that's not the way you calculate earned value."

Another member of the auditing team spoke up. "There's also a problem with these variances. This schedule performance index (SPI) suddenly moves from 0.85 to 1.00 in just one month."

My friend looked through his back-up documentation. "Yeah, that task was completed."

"Well, you can't just change the SPI to 1.00."

"Why not? Any task that wraps up, by definition, has earned value equal to the budget at completion, meaning that the SPI is 1.00."

"But you can't change the SPI so that it no longer shows how late you were."

My friend realized that he wasn't going to overcome the idiocy of the review team with something as dismissible as facts. He gave up. The auditors issued their CARs, which read: "Ensure that the methods for collecting and reporting earned value data are consistent with guidance." Essentially, they were saving face from their indefensible criticisms. …

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