One of the most common questions I receive today goes something like, “Does earned value management apply to an automated information system effort?” This question reflects DoD history relative to both earned value management and AIS. Historically, earned value (under the guise of CS/CSC) was commonly perceived as a required reporting process oriented toward major acquisition programs. This caused it to become a burden and added cost with little value to the management. Although this was never the intent, the perception became reality and earned value came into disfavor.
AIS efforts often consisted of “software maintenance” planned and managed as a level of effort. Annual budgets funded teams working on system problems, upgrades and sometimes completely new applications. In this environment the development team generated as much product as possible for the money available that year and moved any remaining work to the next year. Additionally, the customer often had poorly defined or constantly changing requirements. Without specific and controlled product definition there could not be a product, or project, management mentality.