What is Earned Value Management | Formulas | Graphs

There is already a lot of stuff regarding Earned Value Management; still, people ask for it. Let me also try to put some insight, and I hope you will get benefit from it. I will not emphasize much on definitions or theories but will try to cover them with the help of some visuals.

Let us see a brief introduction to Earned Value Management;

Earned Value Management is a technique that helps Project stakeholders to measure project performance. Ultimately, this will also help in forecasting the project resources to complete the project.

Before we start, keep in mind the Earned Value is what we are getting against our Planned Cost Baseline. It has nothing to do with what we are getting from sponsors or clients.

You plan $100 for a task, but you will get $150 from the client after completion.

You hire a contractor and pay him $80 or even $120.

Now, when a task is completed, your Earned Value is the same as you planned $100, not a single penny less or more.

Earned Value is not a profit/loss term.

Every Project Manager wants a precise performance date for their project if it is lagging behind or ahead of schedule to manage resources effectively to save time and budget. Time and cost are two variables in EVM.

We produce different comparisons and variances through earned value management, thus helping for further actions.

Essentials for EVM Implementation

Below are pre-requisites that we should have before implementing the Earned Value Management on our project;

  • An approved baseline project plan where we can see all the Project Scope
  • Planned Value – PV or Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled- BCWS. A value of Planned Work
  • Earned Value – EV or Budgeted Cost of Work Performed – BCWP. A value of Work Performed.

Why do we need EVM?

This is a common question: when we can see what is spent and what is earned by looking at finance, why do we need this?

The answer is what is earned and what is spent is not enough to understand the project performance. Hence we need EVM.

EVM gives a better approach and visibility with quantitative data analysis. EVM reports are clear to understand and to communicate among stakeholders


Let say you have the following scenario;

Project Approved Duration = 2 Years.

Project Approved Budget = 10 Million USD

After one year, you have spent 5 Million, and you think you have completed 50% of the project?

The answer is No as it is not showing how much Work you have achieved – Maybe 30% or less.

This is where EVM comes into action & gives you a clear picture of your project.

Note: Maybe after 1 year, you have completed more than 70% of the Work, but in this case, you can save money by removing extra resources or can claim acceleration costs.

Performing EVM Analysis

The following are the steps involved in Earned Value Management. I will try to explain these with simple examples;

Step -1: Determine the Planned Value – PV

Step -2: Determine the Earned Value – EV

Step -3: Determine the Actual Cost – AC

Step -4: Calculate the Schedule Variance – SV

Step -5: Calculate the Cost Variance – CV

Step -6: Calculate Other Status Indicators like CPI, SPI, EAC, ETC, and TCPI

Let see what includes in these 6 steps.

Earned value management simplified formulas

Finding the Planned Value – PV

It is also known as BCWS –  Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled. This is the amount (Monetary Value) of the activity or task that we are supposed to complete on that particular data date.

For example, we have the below data for any particular task or activity.

  • Budget  = 100 $
  • Start Date = 1 December
  • End Date =10 December
  • Original Duration = 10 days

At the end of December 07th (Data Date), the activity/ task is supposed to be 70% complete.

Then, PV or BCWS = $100 * 70% = $70.

For the overall project, we can use the below formula.

PV = BAC * % of planned work

Finding the Earned Value – EV

It is also known as BCWP – Budgeted Cost of Work Performed. This is the amount (Monetary Value) of the activity/task that is completed in actuality.

For example, we have the below data for any particular task or activity.

  • Budget  = 100 $
  • Start Date = 1 December
  • End Date =10 December
  • Original Duration = 10 days

Now, see if the actual percent completed of the activity/task is 50%.

EV or BCWP = $100 * 50% = $50.

For the overall project, we can use the below formula.

EV = BAC * % of Actual work

Finding the Actual Cost – AC

It is also known as ACWP  –  Actual Cost of Work Performed. It is the actual spending on the Work done on your project.

We will add up all the costs, direct, indirect, including materials, overhead costs, equipment costs, and rents.

This we will get from the finance department. Let say they give you a value that is 60$.

You need not play; take the Value on that particular data date – Fresh Date.

Here, we are done with all the required information. Now let’s play with other elements in Earned Value Management.

Calculating the Variance & Indexes

Calculate the Schedule Variance – SV

As the name presents a  Schedule Variance – SV indicates the schedule status of the project.

The formula is; also, you can see in the graph for better understanding.
SV = EV – PV

Now from our above data;

SV = $50 – $70 = -$20

Here, we are lagging as we know a negative schedule variance means the task is behind schedule & vice versa.

This will help a project manager to understand that he needs to put effort into recovering the lag.

Calculate the Cost Variance – CV

As the name presents a  Cost Variance – CV indicates the cost status of the project.

The formula is; also, you can see in the graph for better understanding.
CV = EV – AC

Now from our above data;

SV = $50 – $60 = -$10

Here, we are over budget as a negative cost variance means that we are over budget & vice versa.

This will help a project manager understand that he needs to recover the difference and reduce costs by optimizing the resources.

Calculate Other Status Indicators

As far as, we got cost & schedule variances that are enough for most of the projects to fulfill the status report, but as we have done all the hard Work so let see how powerful this Earned Value Management technique is;

Here are other variables;

CPI – Cost Performance Index

This is the cost variance in percentage terms.

We can calculate by this formula;


in the above example, CPI = 0.83 means the project is 17% over budget.

Remember  these points if;

  • CPI > 1 means we are under budget.
  • CPI = 1 means we are on a budget.
  • CPI<1 means we are over budget.

Let’s try the numeric way for the above conditions;

  • CPI = 0.5 means the project has already spent twice the amount it allocated as per the cost baseline plan
  • CPI = 1.0 means the project is on budget.
  • CPI = 1.5 means the project is under budget
  • CPI = 0, which means the project work has not started.

SPI – Schedule Performance Index

This is the schedule variance in percentage terms.

We can calculate by this formula;


in the above example, SPI is 0.86 means the project is 16% lagging behind.

Remember  these points if;

  • SPI > 1 means we are behind schedule.
  • SPI = 1 means we are on the schedule.
  • SPI<1 means we are ahead of schedule.

Let’s try the numeric way for the above conditions;

  • SPI = 0.5 means the project is behind schedule the halfway
  • SPI = 1.0 means the project is exactly on schedule.
  • SPI = 1.5 means we have performed 5workore Work than what was required at this point.
  • SPI = 0, which means the project work has not started.

Now, let see some forecasting techniques used to find values to complete a project…

Forecasting & Lookahead

Now, time to find and compile the results…

EAC – Estimate at Completion

This helps the project manager understand how much more budget they need to complete the project. You will find this deviation from the cost baseline.

There are different scenarios to find this one;

  • Case – 1: EAC = BAC / CPI – If CPI is expected, the same trend till End of the project.
  • Case 2: EAC = AC + (BAC – EV) – If the future Work is done at the planned rate.
  • Case 3: EAC = AC + (BAC – EV) / (CPI * SPI) If both CPI & SPI influence on remaining work
  • Case 4: EAC = AC + Bottom-up Estimate to Complete – If the initial plan is no longer valid

Use any of the above formulas as per the situation on your project.

This graph can help to understand these terms better.’


ETC – Estimate to Complete

ETC – Estimate to Complete is also the cost of completing the remaining Work.

We can calculate  it as;

Estimate to Complete = Estimate at Completion – Actual Cost


TCPI – To Complete Performance Index

The To Complete Performance Index is the efficiency level required to achieve the project finish on time. This is an indicator of the productivity level of the project team – you can say.

An estimate of the future cost that you may need to complete the project within the approved budget. This budget may be the BAC or EAC.

  • TCPI = (Remaining Work) / (Remaining Funds)
  • TCPI = (BAC – EV) / (BAC – AC)
  • TCPI = (BAC – EV) / (EAC – AC)

Let say you got a TCPI value that is 1.01, which means to complete the project within the original budget, $1.01 worth of Value must be received for every dollar spent for the remainder of the project.


  • TCPI is >1 then hard to complete
  • TCPI is <1 then Easy to complete
  • TCPI is = 1, then the same to complete

TCPI Formula for the PMP exam must prepare as your entire concepts about EVM will ultimately clear.

You can read more on TCPI here To Complete the Performance Index.

EVM Advantages

Earned Value Management helps us for:

  • Improving communication and visibility with stakeholders
  • Reducing risk, it clearly gives insight to stakeholders on time
  • Preventing scope creep as we are tracking each task and hence the scrutiny of any creep
  • Preventing Gold Plating as everything is already aligned to a system.
  • Profitability analysis
  • Project forecasting as we can easily see the EAC, ETC & TCPI
  • Better accountability
  • Performance tracking is what EVM is all about

Points to Remember

When applying EVM then you need to consider these points;

  • Earned Value cannot be more than Earned Value at any stage. Yes, in the end,d End, both are equal.
  • Earned Value is just what you have got from the Work done against the cost baseline.
  • Earned Value is not what you will get from the client but is the Value you put in the cost baseline. For example, you put the cost of a task as 100$ on the cost baseline, but you are actually getting 150$ from the client. You hire a contractor, and he does the job for you for (120$ or 80$), but once the task is completed, your earned Value is 100$ nothing more, nothing less.
  • While writing the variances formulas, EV will be on the right side, e.g., CV = EV- AC & during indexing, it will be at the upside, e.g., SPI = EV/PV

Wrap Up

Earned Value Management is not that hard to implement. This is a more clear reporting structure that started in the USA in the 1960s around. Keep things simple and so step by step. Make a dashboard on whatever scheduling software you are using or take help from MS Excel at least.

FAQ’s About EVM

How is Earned Value Management used?

Earned Value Management – EVM helps the project team to measure project performance. This technique uses variances and indexes to evaluate the project’s health and further forecast successful completion.

How is Earned Value calculated?

We need Planned Value & Actual Cost to calculate the Earned Value: EV = Total budget multiplied by the % of project completion. This is what we actually have earned against what we planned. This is neither a profit nor a loss matrix.

Why is Earned Value Management important?

It gives us a clearer picture to understand any project’s performance in terms of cost and schedule.

What is the 50/50 rule in project management?

The 50/50 rule is that we will get credit 50% as soon as we start the task & the other 50% when we finish. This is good to retain the cash flow on any project. 0/100 is a lousy rule for a contractor.

What is Project baselining?

The baseline is just a reference for both parties to measure the performance of any project. Without any approved baseline, every effort to measure the progress is of no use contractually.

What is the difference between ACWP BCWS and BCWP?

These are the old names of PV, EV, AC, respectively.

BCWS is Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled

BCWP is the Budgeted Cost of Work Performed

ACWP is Actual Cost of Work Performed

One Small Request:

I understand life is busy when you work, especially in the Project Management field. We have no time to play around on the internet. I only can request you share this information with other colleagues. It will help me to grow my blog and can reach more people. Thank you for visiting.


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13 thoughts on “What is Earned Value Management | Formulas | Graphs”

  1. Thanks mate, just needed some additional info about evm and other way of looking it.
    Very clear and informative

  2. Great Thx Sir. This is much needed for engineers and planners at present context when throat cutting competition is prevailing.

  3. Dear Writer,

    Are the CPI values for Over and under defined correctly?
    As per my understanding, if CPI value is
    AC , so project shall be Under budget
    >1 : EV < AC, so project shall be over budget.
    I think it has been defined the other way around, please check.
    Excuse me if I am wrong.
    sorry for reposting again, i think my previous comment was missing a little part

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