Many companies use Deltek Cobra as a tool for collecting and reporting Earned Value Management (EVM) data. However, many organizations fail to fully take advantage of this tool.
By Ron Wadlinger
This article identifies areas which you may overlook when you use the tool simply to produce a basic Contractor Performance Report (CPR) or Integrated Program Management Report (IPMR) to meet your Earned Value (EV) reporting requirements.
You can use Cobra to capture information beyond the typical EV data of Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS), Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP), Actual Cost of Work Performed (ACWP), and forecasts—Estimate to Complete (ETC) and Estimate at Completion (EAC).
Cobra offers great flexibility through its ability to combine different rates and resource calculations and associate these with different Cost Classes and Cost Sets for reporting. In some cases, particularly related to EVM reporting, Cobra comes with six out-of-the-box predefined Cost Classes: Actual, Budget, Earned, Forecast, Over Target Baseline (OTB), and Replanned.
In addition, you can define additional cost classes to track other types of information related to EVM as well as other types of data reporting. By using these Cost Classes to define Cost Sets, you can use Cobra to prepare reports that you can use directly as report outputs, or modify and analyze using either Microsoft Excel, Access, or other database tools.
Since Cobra allows you to apply different rates to different Cost Classes, you can perform multiple “What If” analyses and even track and forecast profitability for your projects. You can, for example, distinguish between different funding sources when budgeting by creating multiple Budget Cost Classes, or to distinguish between accounting, invoiced, estimated, or accrued actual costs by creating multiple Actual Cost Classes. Each type of class allows you to define different characteristics, depending on its context. For example, budget classes can be assigned different fiscal calendars for spreading. This allows you to spread budgets for planning using fiscal years rather than months.
Classes used for budget costs can refer to different rate files to indicate different effective dates for change orders or Budget Change Requests (BCRs) that involve different labor costs or burden costs than those originally planned.
You can create additional Forecast classes to use multiple forecasting techniques to validate accuracy of forecasts, depending on the selected class (or classes) of budget costs. Adding a Billing Cost Class can be used to determine the amount that is billed to the customer and can be compared to actual internal cost to determine gross profit.
Many Cobra users have already used Cost Classes and Cost Sets to gain additional insight into their projects.
Ron Wadlinger is a Senior Associate in SMA’s Integrated Program Planning & Controls (IPPC) Practice, with over twenty years’ experience working with earned value management systems (EVMS) and project controls.
If you’re building a team and you have positions you can’t fill, you need to use SMA Talent on Demand (TOD®)! With TOD®, you can find experienced talent, such as Ron, matched to your exact needs.