Sunday, March 20, 2005

Earned Value Analysis, Introduction

First, thanks to Dr. Strully for holding me accountable to something I don't get paid for. This post is dedicated to your carping.

In my previous post, lo those many weeks ago, I promised to write later about specific methods of better accounting for value created through our agencies. In this series of posts, I'll introduce an accountability discipline that I believe could be adapted successfully to improve our system. WARNING, this and the next few posts are for major wonks only.

Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is a discipline developed by project managers. In EVA, the value of a goal (deliverable) is agreed upon, a date set for completion, and, often, a standard for quality. When accomplishment of that goal requires that several objectives be met on the way, similar standards are set for each component process, with the sum of the parts equal to the whole budget.

Along the way, other related metrics (which I'll introduce in later posts) can be used to determine whether the methods employed to reach the goal are working so that there is feedback detailing how the plan is going and where the problems, if any, may lie. Between projects (Service Plans,) vigilant recording of how satisfactorily goals were reached leads to both the refinement of methods for predicting value, planning for unpredictability and identifying methods, policies and agencies which are notably (in)effective at helping individuals involved. Furthermore, because the values of projects are agreed to in advance, it offers a more flexible, client-centered alternative to accountability than a system predicated on tallying aggregated client outcomes. In short, EVA can be developed into a learning model of accountability that more effectively employs resources to help people with disabilities live according to their preferences, participate more fully in their communities and remain healthy.

More thorough and boring details will be provided in the next few posts.

And thanks again, Jeff. I needed a kick.