Earned Height Management: A New Extension to EVM for High-Rise Construction

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The thirty-year-old Earned Value method has been playing a central role in managing projects and reporting progress. Some project managers have critically criticized it, others have trusted it, but all have used it. For a professional project manager working in the “vertical” construction field in Dubai, applying the EVM as-presently-is in managing high-rise buildings construction is like applying a general theory to a very particular wide-spread case. Here, there’s no real problem, but opportunity for further optimization. In this research, the opportunity of creating useful tools specific for high-rise construction has been grasped. The theory here combines the EVM principles with energy theories. The factor of “Height” added to, and stressed in, the original formula of EVM describes the progress (or earning) in the work in the form of potential energy stored in the building at high levels. Looking at it from yet another angle, the building is the “Sum” of all the work needed to complete the whole of the end deliverable. The sum of product of the forces exerted by the displacement of materials to the appropriate place (height) makes the whole of the project. This research attempts to use the height (as an element of the energy and work theories) to enhance the EVM in reporting vertical progress. The method developed in this attempt, Earned Height Management (EHM), uses the planned and achieved heights of both the top of the building and the, here-introduced, “value center” of the building. The research focuses on two main variables at all times: Total Height (TH) and Earned Height (EH). The first one gives indication about the progress of the skeleton (here referred to as “structure” and can be considered as the “driving activity” or “locomotive”), and the second about the entire earned value in the form of height. Monitoring these two variables gives this method irrefutable edge over the original EVM and its derivatives since EHM tells at a glance whether the structure is delayed or its subsequent activities (partitioning, plastering, finishing, glazing, etc.). Five projects have been chosen as case studies to run the EHM method and examine its effectiveness. These projects are of heights ranging from nine floors to fifty-five floors. Project managers and planning engineers have been entrusted to apply the EHM to the selected projects. These users (applicators) have originally been working on these projects using some other methods than EHM. Applying the EHM to the case studies has revealed additional information about the progress of the work and the opportunities for improvement and acceleration that could not have been directly derived using any of the presently available tools. On the other hand, HIRI-PRO, the application developed for the purpose of applying the EHM, though proved effective in calculating the indices and producing sophisticated reports, wasn’t as user-friendly as the users wished. A new version of HIRI-PRO has been developed easing the data entry process and allowing easier automatic input from the available planning tools. However, the new version has been released at a later stage before the completion of entering the data used in this research. Moreover, it was revealed that EHM application has got limitations. The accuracy of the method can be affected by the following: - shape of the structure - basement works - materials delivered to site (and not fixed in place) - pre-engineered work (work prepared and/or completed outside the project premises) - user’s assumptions (assumed heights for certain activities may need user’s judgment) - number of buildings in the project (if more than one building and progressing at different speeds) - preparation activities Despite the shortcomings of EHM, the case studies considered in this report proved the reliability of applying EHM on a wide spectrum of high-rise buildings. The research recommends the incorporation of EHM indices as standard feature of planning tools available for the project managers of high-rise buildings.
Earned Height Management (EHM), high-rise construction, project management, project manager, high-rise buildings