Unravelling the Triad: What are the 3 Key Earned Value Terms?

July 8, 2023
Get the most out of Planned Value (PV), Earned Value (EV), and Actual Cost (AC) as an integral part of Earned Value Analysis in project management.

Project management is a complex field that requires meticulous planning, monitoring, and control to ensure successful outcomes. One of the key tools used in this process is Earned Value analysis. This technique provides a quantitative measure of project performance by comparing the work planned with what has been accomplished and at what cost.

In this blog post, we will delve into the three primary Earned Value terms- Planned Value (PV), Earned Value (EV), and Actual Cost (AC).

Understanding Earned Value Analysis

Before we delve into the specifics of each method, it's essential to understand what Earned Value Analysis is.

It's a project management technique that measures the performance and progress of a project in an objective manner. It allows project managers to compare the amount of work that was planned with what was actually accomplished, and how much it should have cost versus how much it did cost.

1. Planned Value (PV)

Planned Value, also known as Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS), is the first method in Earned Value Analysis.

This approach involves estimating how much of your budget should be spent on a specific task or set of tasks during a given period.

For instance, if you're building a bridge a budget of £100,000 over five months, your PV for each month would be £20,000. This figure represents the amount you plan to spend on construction each month.

Planned Value helps Project Managers anticipate potential overspending before it happens by comparing planned expenditures with actual costs throughout the project’s lifecycle.

2. Earned Value (EV)

The second method in Earned Value Analysis is Earned Value or Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP). This approach measures how much work has been completed at any given point during the project timeline compared to what was initially planned.

Using our bridge-building example again; if after one month you've completed 30% of your construction instead of 20%, your EV would be £30,000 instead of £20,000.

Earned Value gives an objective measure of how far along you are in your project compared to where you thought you'd be at this point in time.

3. Actual Cost (AC)

The third method under earned value analysis is Actual Cost or Actual Cost of Work Performed (ACWP). As its name suggests, this approach calculates how much money has been spent on completing specific tasks during a given period.

If after one month into building your bridge you've spent £25,000 instead of your planned £20,000 - that's your AC.

Actual Cost helps identify whether you're overspending or underspending on your project based on actual expenditures compared to both PV and EV figures.

The Power Trio in Project Management

In conclusion, these three calculations– Planned Value (PV), Earned Value (EV), and Actual Cost (AC) – form an integral part of Earned Value Analysis in project management. They provide valuable insights into not only how well a project is progressing but also whether it’s staying within budgetary constraints.

By understanding these methods and implementing them effectively within their projects' framework, managers can ensure more accurate forecasting and better control over their projects' financial aspects – leading to more successful outcomes overall.

Remember that while these methods offer valuable insights into your projects' progress and financial health; they are most effective when used together rather than individually.

So next time when managing a project remember these three musketeers - PV, EV & AC - they will surely help pave way for success!

For a comprehensive Earned Value Management glossary visit 100 Essential Earned Value Definitions

Unravelling the Triad: What are the 3 Key Earned Value Terms?

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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