S-Curve and the issue of future work
It is arguable what conclusion can be drawn from an S-Curve, as the only statements that it leads to can be:
- Actual Work versus Baseline Work over time
- “We have done less work than planned.”
- “We have done more work than planned.”
- “We have done exactly the amount of work that was planned.” (very rare)
- Actual Cost versus Baseline Cost over time
- “We spent less money than planned.”
- “We spent more money than planned.”
- “We spent exactly the amount of money that was planned.” (very rare)
As the project progresses, tasks and/or cost are added during execution. When showing the work or cost for each month on the S-Curve it is possible that cost or work that was planned for the future already occurred.
S-Curve with future work already reported
In this case, the S-Curve might be misleading. Did the project members have enough time to accomplish future work? Did the project members skip some planned tasks due to constraints, risk or other factors and instead focused on future work? Did it make sense to pay for certain equipment to get discounts, although the purchase was planned in 2 months from now? Etc.
To get a deeper understanding of future work/cost that was already done it is advisable to break it down by resource department or cost type and take a closer look at the number of late tasks or expenses and their dependencies according to the project sequence. This way, the resources that worked on tasks ahead of time can get the credit for it and expenses may be transparently justifiable. Also, corrective actions can be taken with teams that slipped from the schedule because of events that made it difficult to get planned work done.