Under-Spend: An Earned Value Analysis

of 60 Projects in the Sahel



By Stephen Fierbaugh

North Texas, USA


 IMPORTANT: This analysis is ONLY as accurate and up-to-date as the data in internal reporting systems.


Earned Value Management (EVM) is a rigorous and widely used analysis technique that provides valuable information about projects’ costs and schedules.  A brief introduction is provided in this paper.

Two superficially similar projects in the Sahel are compared using EVM, and then conclusions are shared for all of the analyzed projects.  EVM is used to answer the following questions:

  1. How is each project progressing?
  2. How significant is the under-spending?
  3. Is each project using resources efficiently?
  4. Is there a way to compare the projects to each other?
  5. How much funding is necessary to complete each project?

KEY FINDING:  If present trends continue, most Sahel projects will complete reasonably close to their original budget but take longer than planned.

KEY FINDING:  Only 26 of 60 projects contained data suitable for analysis.  Progress tracking systems need improvement.

KEY FINDING: EVM provides a useful way for Field Coordinators and Area Directors to determine which projects need additional focus.  Dev Reps may use it to assess future investment opportunities.


Seed Company is a $40M/year grant-making organization affiliated with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  It encourages, funds, and monitors over 800 minority language development projects per year, scattered around the world.  The projects are generally planned and ran by local nationals.  They report quarterly to Seed Company about finances and progress.

Illustration 1: Map of the Sahel. Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

translation projects that Seed Company sponsors are struggling with under-spending.  They have approved budgets but are not spending available funds.  This has negative implications for investor relations and Development Representative workloads.  This paper is an analysis of sixty projects in the Sahel area.  It uses the Earned Value Management technique to rank the projects and look for insights into underspending.

The Sahel is the semi-arid region of Africa south of the Sahara Desert and north of the tropical coastal region.  It stretches from Guinea in the west to the Red Sea on the east.  As a practical matter, it encompasses most of the countries overlapping these regions.


In keeping with standard and established Seed Company policy regarding projects in sensitive areas, this paper has been redacted from the original.  The redactions are of specific project names and a few other details for safety purposes.  Redactions are noted with square braces: [REDACTED]


Earned Value Management (EVM) is a mathematical technique widely used to measure performance and progress of projects in an objective manner.  It is included in the Project Management Institute’s PMBOK standard.  EVM is academically rigorous and is commonly used in the largest projects.  It is standardized as ANSI EIA 748-B.

See the Inputs and Outputs sections for descriptions of key values and computations used in Earned Value Management.


To read entire paper, click here


About the Author

Stephen Fierbaugh, PMP

Texas, USA


Stephen Fierbaugh
is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP).  He holds an MA in Intercultural Studies with a focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).  Stephen has extensive experience with projects which involve cross-cultural communications and geographically diverse project teams.  Past roles include Director of Software Development and Director of IT.  Stephen also has six years of experience as a consultant with IBM Global Services.

Stephen can be contacted at [email protected]