Project Controls Personnel: Finding the “Right Stuff”


Earned Value-based Project Management

By Lisa Wolf

Maryland, USA


So you want (or need) to implement Earned Value Management (EVM) in your organization? In order to do so, you need to recruit and hire the right people with the right skill set. That skill set can be formulated and expressed in many different terms including (but not limited to) personality, technical knowledge, and analytical capabilities. You post the job, receive a ton of resumes, and then you realize that you are uncertain how to discern between those who claim they know what they’re doing and those who actually can do what you need them to do. How do you pick the right people with the right skill set? This paper discusses one person’s view of the various roles in the world of EVM and how to recruit and retain the right talent.


What is “The Right Stuff?” First of all, it is a movie based on the story of the original “Mercury Seven” astronauts (Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, and Deke Slater) and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program. Originally a book by Tom Wolfe (no relation, unfortunately), it covers an exciting time in the United States space program from the breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager to the establishment of Project Mercury at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Most importantly to us, it showed that no one had a clue how to run a space program or how to select people to be in it (NASA was only six months old when the Project Mercury astronauts were chosen).


Often, particularly if new to the contracting world of development, modernization, upgrade or enhancement work valued at $20 million or more requiring Earned Value Management, we can find ourselves in exactly the same figurative boat. From a slow start with humiliating mistakes, Project Mercury eventually became popular worldwide and the six successful manned flights were followed by millions of people on radio and TV not only in the United States, but around the world. So, too, can be the experience of establishing your Earned Value Management System and attendant team… well, perhaps not as grand as being on radio or TV (unless you REALLY mess up – not the kind of attention you really want), but certainly success can be found and maintained by finding people with the “right stuff-.” – and you can expect to make mistakes along the way.

Alan Shepard: Sounds dangerous
Recruiter: It is! Extremely dangerous!
Alan Shepard: Count me in!

Initial Recruiting: What Job Title Is Really Needed?

What, exactly, is the difference between an EVM Analyst, a Planner/Scheduler, and a Project Controls Professional (not to be confused with a Project Controller (financial analyst) or a Project Controls Engineer (technical liaison))? It really depends upon your organization and its needs, as well as what definitions your organization has developed and what your system description states about roles and responsibilities. The following provides definitions of these roles based upon observations and discussions with people from various companies:


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Editor’s note: This article was contributed by the College of Performance Management (CPM), an international association for those engaged in earned value management, project cost and schedule control, program management and program/project performance management. For information about CPM, visit their website at https://www.mycpm.org/



About the Author


pmwj39-Oct2015-Wolf-PHOTOLisa Wolf

Maryland, USA




Lisa Wolf is the Earned Value Management (EVM) and Procurement Systems Focal Point for Booz Allen Hamilton, your essential partner for predictive intelligence, emerging technology, and advanced engineering. In her role, Lisa is responsible for ensuring the proper assessment, compliance and training of the Earned Value Management and Procurement Business Systems through proposal support, Integrated Baseline Reviews (IBRs), Internal Surveillance Reviews (ISRs), Joint Surveillance Reviews (JSRs), Pre-Award reviews, Peer Reviews, and Subcontract Administrator process surveillance. Lisa’s wide range of diverse EVM experience as a practitioner has been in RDT&E, Production, Deployment, Software Development, and IT and support services projects of varying contract sizes and types with myriad clients.

Lisa presently also serves as Co-Dean for the College of Performance Management (CPM) 600-G (Government EVM) Education and Certification tracks and Deputy PM for CPMs Integrated Project Management certification program. She is also co-Lead of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Integrated Program Management Division (IPMD) Contracts working group, and the Vice President of Communication for the College of Performance Management (CPM). She is a frequent speaker and trainer of Earned Value and Project Management topics in the United States at EVM World, IPM conferences and other PMI events, as well as worldwide, including presentations and trainings in Alexandria, Egypt, Yokosuka, Japan, the Cayman Islands, and Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. She has served as a guest lecturer for graduate students at Bowie State University in Maryland, as well as a course developer and leader for the American Management Association.

Lisa earned her MBA from The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and has been certified by the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI) as an Earned Value Professional (EVP) and by the PMI as a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Lisa D. Wolf, EVM and Procurement Systems Focal Point, Booz Allen Hamilton, 1 Preserve Pkwy, Rockville, MD 20852, 301.802.0627 / [email protected]