Earned Value is certainly one of the most powerful project management tools out there.  Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server provide a wealth of options for implementing and reporting on Earned Value – and wherever native functionality is lacking, a multitude of third party vendors have stepped in to fill the gap.  Earned Value is not incredibly hard to implement, but it does require the following:

1) Resource Loading

2) Costs Associated With Resources (unless doing the hack of assigning everyone a standard rate of $1/hr)

3) More Training and Guided Practice

4) Rigid Project Updating Methodologies


None of those requirements are necessarily bad things.  In fact, I would consider each element a standard practice in a functioning project management system.  That being said, a lot of organizations are being quite ambitious moving to standardized schedules, and hold off on implementing Earned Value Management until they’re comfortable enough to implement it..


This post is addressed to those organizations.  The ones who feel that Earned Value, given the current state of project management within the organization, is a bit too much overhead to implement.


Here’re a couple of formulas that I have used over the years that represent “Poor Man’s Earned Value,” or Earned Value that pretty much can be set up in the beginning of the project, as Enterprise custom fields, or as part of the template, and that can be updated with only a minimum amount of effort.  The indicators provide one more point of data for the project managers to assess their schedules.


1) Task Data


This calculation will tell you how much you budgeted to get to where you are in the project.  For instance, on Task A, you originally budgeted 50 hours.  You now have Actual Work of 40, and estimate that you will require another 40 hours to complete the task, thus making yourself 50% Work Complete. 


  • % Work Complete X Baseline Work = 25
  • Actual Work = 40
  • Work Performance Index = 25/40 = .625


  1. Budgeted Work Formula (Number1): (([% Work Complete]*[Baseline Work])/60)/100
  2. Work Performance Index (Number2): IIf([Actual Work]<>0,[Number1]/([Actual Work]/60),0)
  3. WPI Indicator (Number3): [Number2]


Configure the final field with the following indicators:




And you now have an effective task tracking indicator which can be used with minimal overhead, and in organizations that don’t track cost.




2) Resource Data

Let’s apply the same approach and formulas to the Resource data….navigate to the Resource Sheet, and configure the following formulas:


  1. Budgeted Work Formula (Number1): (([% Work Complete]*[Baseline Work])/60)/100
  2. Work Performance Index (Number2): [Number1]/([Actual Work]/60)
  3. WPI Indicator (Number3): Number2


*make sure to set the rollup for each of these fields to “Use Formula”  For the WPI Indicator field, configure the following options.




After configuring a table with the custom fields, you should have something that looks like this:




In many organizations however, individual performance is not as interesting as the entire department in aggregate.  For this reason, I have populated the Group field, which now allows me to group on the Group field to review the departments as a whole.  To do this, I use the Projects > Group By > Resource Group option.



The source file used to generate these screenshots may be downloaded here.