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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Why You Should Know What EVM Is

Why You Should Know What EVM Is post image

I like recruiting developers. I mean I like it unless I overdose it but that’s a completely different story. Since I don’t verify candidates’ technical knowledge for years already, I usually focus on so called soft skills. I’m looking for people who like to learn and have open mind. One of things I want to see is passion to learn new tricks, techniques and technologies. When you’re building your new pet-project, do you choose a beaten path or try something new? Is it a chance to experiment and learn or you just recreate things you already know?

Now you probably wonder what my point is. What recruitment of developers has to do with EVM and why the heck I teased you with Earned Value Management in the title of this post. Well, I promise I have a point. Keep reading.

If I’m looking for developers who are willing to try new things and invest their private time to learn them I’m searching for a specific virtue. I’m looking for people who don’t close themselves in a room filled with things they already know. I’m looking for people who don’t like only these songs they already know. I’m looking for people who want to push themselves to the next level.

Developers would do this using Python or Ruby on Rails or whatever is the thing they don’t know at all in their next pet-project. But what about project managers? Well, pretty much the same. In any given organization we usually run our project using whichever standardized method we typically use. May be Scrum. May be old-school waterfallish approach. May be you-name-it, method which the right and the only approach you use in your organization.

Now, what about your focus on learning new things? Do you even know what EVM is? Note: I use EVM just as an example. It doesn’t mean you should be content as long as you use EVM in your everyday project life. I just chose Earned Value Management as it is really reasonable approach which may prove value in many specific situations and I really expect that pretty few people know it at the moment.

I don’t say anyone should try to apply EVM to each and every situation they face. The only thing I look for is to build your knowledge about different methods you can possibly use and to use them whenever it is reasonable.

One of such examples is from my last Kanban training. We wandered to the subject of estimation and verification how well we are doing with a project. We were discussing a specific situation and we came to the point where I advised someone to measure physical percent complete as something which gives them the answer. I actually don’t really care that I learned the concept from EVM. The only thing I care about is that, one, I know the idea, and two, it was applicable to this very situation.

Remember that I use EVM just as an example here. I don’t care whether it is EVM, ITIL, Scrum or Kanban – whatever sounds like a totally unfamiliar word for you. My point is that you should strive to learn its concepts. I don’t expect you’ll be a subject matter expert in this domain but learn the method, understand how it works. Chances are good you’ll be able to use these lessons in your everyday life.

And this is why you should learn what Earned Value Management is. Or whatever sounds equally alien for you. Same as great developers continuously learn new technologies we should learn new project management approaches as well. It broadens our horizons. It improves our toolboxes. It helps us to be better professionals. And, most of all, it helps us to choose right solutions to right problems and avoid silver bullets. If not for any other reason, please learn basics of a new project management approach once in a while for this last reason.

in: project management

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