Earned Value Management: Reducing Risk and Empowering Program Managers

By Matthew

product-planning-programs-enovia-540x355It is no secret that we live in a dynamic world, where new technologies are driving us towards achievements that were once thought to be impossible. When developing these disruptive innovations, program managers need to be adaptable to ever-changing circumstances, but due to frequent, unforeseen alterations to the program, deliverables often vary from their original concept. Perhaps the only consistencies of the program development process are the tight budgets and high expectations associated with it. Therefore, program managers who can delegate task responsibility, allocate a budget effectively, and maintain an accurate perspective as to the completion of the project are valuable assets to any company. In fact, we believe program managers are the Super Heroes of the workplace. They keep a watchful eye and apply their skills to make order out of the chaos surrounding them.

But what are Super Heroes without their powers? They are simply individuals with good intentions who lack the proper resources to do amazing work. This is the unfortunate reality for many program management organizations, as their heroes struggle to work around budget constraints to complete high risk, time-sensitive programs. However, the tools to achieve company program goals are within reach, and with them come new methods for analysis and reporting. Earned Value Management (EVM) is a management process that offers individuals strong visibility to program data as well as a means to organize that data so they can present their progress quantifiably to stakeholders. The EVM process enables organizations to be more organized, plan programs more effectively, and create accurate progress reports. To do so, one must simply integrate an EVM System (EVMS), which can be adapted from current systems.

Organization
EVM is particularly effective because of the centralization and visibility of information it offers to workers involved with a program. Collecting data from multiple sources and presenting it in a single, intuitive interface not only saves time, but also ensures that no information goes missing or forgotten. To reach this level of organization, a company’s s EVMS must interact easily with legacy systems to access the necessary data. Fortunately, if your organization has already implemented a strong Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) structure, this can hold as the single source of truth needed for optimal organization and visibility.

Planning, Scheduling, and Budgeting
To ensure that program goals are being met it is crucial to first set clear, agreed-upon plans. Doing so will ultimately result in a baseline of the program, which can be referenced often for comparative analysis. This is one of the many fundamentals of EVM, and based on the initial plan, tasks can be disbursed to contributors in a coherent timeline. Planning the program before executing it also improves the accuracy of budget distribution and reduces risk. In order to be successful program planners using EVM processes, there must be a synced relationship with all of the necessary data, as well as a Program Task Management solution in the EVMS.

Analysis and Management Reports
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of integrating an EVM approach to program management is the empowerment it gives our heroic program managers to make objective conclusions about the performance of a project. Key performance indicators can be accessed through their PLM system, and can be compared to the declarations made in the baseline plan. Doing so will allow them to say with factual certainty how far along the team is with the program, how well they are using the budget, and when completion should be expected. Because all information is updated real-time through an EVMS, this analysis can be conducted at any point in time, and the baseline can be adjusted accordingly.

Overall, the integration of an Earned Value Management process for program management will do so much more than organize project data. It will provide program managers with new levels of control and visibility, which enables the team to put forward its best work. Shifting gears to an EVM approach is easier than you think, and can be achieved by leveraging current systems the company already has in place. If you would like to learn more you can register for a free EBook where you will learn Tech-Clarity’s recommendations for EVM, and how you can provide your Super Heroes with the tools for success.

Matthew J. Hall

Matthew J. Hall

Matthew Hall is the ENOVIA User Advocacy & Social EXPERIENCE Specialist.  You can find him on Twitter at @mjhall. Connect with ENOVIA at @3DSENOVIA

Sewers paved with gold

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar

The future gold rush might be to a sewer near you. Municipal sewage contains many metals, including gold, silver and platinum. Concentrations vary by metal, but municipal sewage tends to contain about one part per million of gold. This “isn’t a lot, but for gold it’s significant,” says Kathleen Smith, research geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, and an expert on metals in biosolids.

Biosolids (treated sewage sludge) are more commonly understood as fertilizer. “It’s high in phosphorus and slow-release nitrogen,” Dr. Smith says. Around half the roughly seven million dry tonnes of biosolids collected at U.S. wastewater treatment plants is recycled as fertilizer, including in public lands and forests.

But while copper and zinc, for example, are essential for plants and animals, these metals may become toxic in high concentrations, hence the need to monitor and regulate the chemical and metal content in waste.

It’s not just the regulated metals such as copper and zinc that now attract attention. “The presence of some valuable metals—such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium—is [also] of interest, due to their concentration levels,” Dr. Smith says.

In the mining industry, sought-after metals are dispersed. “You have to spend a lot of money and move a lot of rock to get at the metals,” Dr. Smith explains. Recovering metals from sludge, however, is easier. It also complements traditional mining and can be undertaken in any market.

From a sustainability point of view, we’re…trying to find a way to extract metals from [waste streams] that contain large amounts of metals, versus just throwing them in a landfill and dealing with the effects of having the metals dispersed in the environment,” Dr. Smith says.

There’s also money to be made. Arizona State University researchers calculate that a million-strong community produces $13 million worth of metals in biosolids annually. The most lucrative elements—silver, copper, gold, phosphorus, iron, palladium, manganese, zinc, iridium, aluminum, cadmium, titanium, gallium and chromium—have an estimated combined value of $280 per ton ($308 per tonne) of sewage.

A 1978 analysis of incinerated sludge in Palo Alto, California found 30 parts per million of gold and 660 parts per million of silver in the city’s annual ash pile, worth some $2.5 million; since then the gold price alone has risen six-fold.

Knowing the total concentrations of metals in the biosolids is just the first step,” Dr. Smith notes.  The challenge is to release and recover the metals in the correct form to interest the market. “It’s not as easy as multiplying the concentration of the metals by their market value.”

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, for example, are working on a thermal-chemical process to decontaminate sludge, remove harmful heavy metals, and retain the phosphorus as fertilizer.

Meanwhile, JBR Recovery Ltd., in West Bromwich, U.K., has developed a commercially-viable method to recover silver and other precious metals from industrial sludge. Simon Meddings, JBR’s managing director, explains the process. First, a rotary kiln uses combustible silver-bearing waste to dry out most of the moisture. A high-carbon ash is produced—increasing the volume of metals to 10% to 15% from around 0.2%—and placed into a lead-based blast furnace. The lead collects the precious metals, and slag is dispersed through a tap hole at the front of the furnace. The alloy of lead and precious metals then goes into a cupellation furnace, which oxidizes the lead, allowing it to be poured off the top. The remaining bath of molten metal—around 98% pure silver with gold and other platinum group metals present—is cast into bars. These go into moebius cells where an electrical current refines the silver to 99.9%, and collects and refines the gold and platinum separately.

Sludge suppliers are paid according to how much precious metal is extracted and sold, less treatment and refining charges. The photographic industry and chemical production plants are major customers (photographs and x-rays in particular having high metals content).

Nonetheless, many large companies overlook their waste streams, and simply contract waste management companies to dispose of their sludge.

You’d be surprised how much ends up in landfill,” Mr. Meddings says. “People are not aware of the value in it.” They might take more interest “if they know they can get a financial rebate.”

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion.

Photos courtesy of iStock

Have Your Say — Join a Dassault Systèmes Semiconductor User Group Meeting

By Matthew
Semiconductor User Day Venues

 

Given the success of last year’s Semiconductor User Group meeting held at the DS HQ in Vélizy, France, we have decided to continue to do it again and this year, we will also hold a 2-day meeting in the USA this September in addition to a sister meeting that will take place in October again at the DS HQ in France.

Here’s what you can look forward to experiencing:

Day 1: Silicon Thinking – Turning Semiconductor Complexity into Business ProfitabilityWorkshopVelizy

  • Now, engineering teams can take an active role in helping their companies achieve profitability
  • See how Silicon Thinking delivers a collaborative business platform that brings design teams, manufacturing teams, and product engineering teams  together for the first time

Day 2: Semiconductor Connection Day
* Note: day 2 is designed for current ENOVIA semiconductor users

  • Spend time with Dassault Semiconductor Solution R&D in a round table environment
  • Learn about the latest developments, share customers success stories and influence the Semiconductor Solution development roadmap

 So where and when is this event happening?

NAM: Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA

September 15-16 Register Now!

EMEA: 3DS Paris Campus, Velizy, France

October 22-23 Register Now!

Matthew J. HallMatthew Hall is the ENOVIA User Advocacy & Social EXPERIENCE Specialist.  You can find him on Twitter at @mjhall. Connect with ENOVIA at @3DSENOVIA



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