The purpose of the CAM strategy is to create a coherent framework for the completion of projects in a fashion conducive to speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. These essay writer are three key features of any worthwhile business project, and so it is imperative that any business strategy that is employed serves to reflect that, and to prioritize the achievement of these as much as possible under the circumstances.
More specifically, the CAM (Control Account Manager) approach aims to achieve these goals by vesting authority for several control accounts within an organization’s structure in a single manager. The Earned Value Management System (EVMS), which is discussed in greater detail later in this notebook, proposes the control account as the basic foundation of the entire process of project management. This creates a single point of authority for a project’s scope, budgetary constraints, performance, and schedule, with accountability for these variables ultimately resting with the Control Account Manager. To ensure successful management of these, the Control Account Manager is encouraged to be mindful of what are collectively known as the RAA of control account management; responsibility, authority, and accountability (Ten Six, 2013).
This notebook will outline my approach to various areas of control account management, with a focus on the skills and strategies required for effectiveness, and how I might improve these on a personal level. I will also discuss my approach to specific elements of the control account management process, such as the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and the cost estimate procedure.
Key Functional Skills and Strategies
Because of the amount of responsibility assumed by a Control Account Manager, leadership skills are one of the key competences of anyone occupying this role. A Control Account Manager will necessarily have authority over a number of areas, of a diverse nature, at any given time. Effective management of these requires the ability to delegate tasks efficiently, and to communicate requirements in a way that is certain to produce desired results.
My own approach to leadership, which I have found to be effective through my experience in project management, is to focus primarily on the people I manage, rather than the tasks. While the project at hand is obviously of paramount importance, it is impossible to expect different groups of operatives to produce identical outcomes with regard to a given set of objectives. As a student of project management, I have learned the importance of accepting different project inputs, cost baselines, and schedules (within acceptable parameters) from different operatives, and to embrace this rather than opposing it in pursuit of an arbitrary idea about how a project should ideally reach completion.
Accountability is also a key consideration for the Control Account Manager. The Control Account Manager is accountable to the Program Manager for the performance of the control account. This includes outcomes relating to scheduling, costs, technical goals, and earned value performance (Ten Six, 2013).
My own approach to accountability revolves around careful maintenance of records of every kind. Where there is some shortcoming for which I could be held accountable as a Control Account Manager, this would be easier to justify to a Program Manager if the source of the issue is readily identifiable. Where this is the case, the problem can be addressed going forward, and ideally avoided. Where, however, the source of the issue isn’t identifiable because of poor record-keeping, it is far more likely to recur, and a Program Manager is likely to view this as careless.
Transparency allows contributions to come from both superiors and more junior associates in an effective and timely fashion. To allow individual involvement in a project, it is vital that the operations of that project be clearly communicable. The best way to ensure that this remains the case during the course of a project is to be meticulous in the recording of operations, schedules, outcomes, and objectives.
With this in mind, my approach to transparency revolves around careful maintenance of records. This has benefits here in the same way it does for accountability. Clear communication is equally essential, even when discussing matters that are simple or administrative in nature.
Because of the ease with which details can be rechecked at a later time, email would be my preferred method of communication for project-related matters. Where the nature of a discussion requires it to be conducted in person or over the phone, I would still advise that the key elements be communicated to concerned parties via email after the discussion has taken place. An advantage of this (over the taking of notes by each party) is that the communication is identical for all those concerned.
Finding and implementing effective solutions to the problems that arise in the course of a project form an inevitable and vital part of the Control Account Manager’s role. No project will ever reach completion without, at some point, encountering some issues that had not been explicitly considered at the outset. There are a number of skills that a good project manager should develop which serve to deal with such occurrences.
Personally, I like to approach this area of project management by maintaining a keen focus on preparedness. While it is impossible to prepare for every eventuality when managing a project, a high level of general preparation will allow for a more measured response to an unforeseen issue when one does arise. In practice, this involves carefully considering all possible risks before embarking on any course of action, as well as setting out a time budget for all project areas which takes account of any time that may possibly be spent addressing problems.
Another key element of my problem solving approach is my willingness to invite input from other team members. While the role of Control Account Manager is one which implies a high level of accountability at a personal level, I feel that it is important to realize that not every problem can be solved by one manager. It is often the case that another member of the team will have an alternative or additional solution to an issue which will be of value.
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Given the position of authority they hold in many different project areas, a Control Account Manager’s capacity to effectively oversee the tasks carried out by their subordinate operatives is of paramount importance. The average Control Account Manager simply does not have the time to concern themselves with the minute details of all of the items for which they hold responsibility. Therefore, it is vital that they develop the skills required to oversee operations from a higher level, and delegate less important tasks to those in a better position to execute them with the appropriate level of engagement.
For me, the most important part of effective oversight is having the right individuals in charge of the right briefs. Because the job of Control Account Manager does not allow for extensive engagement with niche project areas, it is imperative that there are operatives in charge of individual project components that can be trusted with looking after these components without close supervision. This requires the appointment of suitable operatives generally, and also the assignment of specific briefs to these operatives based on their strengths and areas of experience.
Supporting Functional Skills and Strategies
Teamwork & Teambuilding
As the leader of multiple teams within a broad framework, a Control Account Manager must always be cognizant of the importance of cohesion and productivity within a team environment. The will of a particular individual within a team may differ to that of another, and such disagreements may, if left unchecked, lead to a poor working atmosphere and expensive lapses in productivity. An effective Control Account Manager should always be aware of this risk. With this in mind, they should adopt a management style which serves to avoid excessive disagreement within team units, and have tools to deal with such disagreements, when they do arise, in an expedient and cost-effective manner.
My outlook on this particular area of project management is that communication is of paramount importance. Differences of opinion are inevitable, and can even be productive, but only if the proper structures are in place for those involved to communicate their positions easily and clearly. Encouraging team members to stay in continual contact with each other through, for example, online group chats, allows ideas to be exchanged in a convenient and informal way. It allows for questions to be cleared up quickly, for problems to be addressed, and for useful suggestions to be adopted and put into practice.
There are obviously huge differences between individual employees in terms of how they approach their work and their effectiveness under various circumstances. Recognizing this fact is key to developing a productive approach to motivation, as different employees will respond differently to different motivational styles. This is an especially important consideration in the modern business world, given the increased focus on mental health and the importance of a happy work environment in this regard.
In terms of my personal approach, I always aim to focus on the needs and characteristics of the individual. It is vital to be able to recognize that one person’s absolute maximum output may only be the product of a half-hearted effort from someone else. In the case of the latter, some motivation is required, and the form this should take will depend, as outlined, on the nature of the individual. One worker may respond best to friendly encouragement, while for another, a better result might come from a sterner approach. What is therefore required in all cases is a strong personal connection with all co-workers.
As is the case with motivating, mentoring must be executed with a keen focus on the specific needs of the individual. Different employees have different areas of strength and levels of ability, and so what is straightforward for one employee may pose considerable difficulties for another.
Again, therefore, my approach here is based on getting to know individuals, and thereby coming to understand what will work best for them individually in terms of mentoring style. Typically, I would attempt to instruct people on necessary items in a group setting, in order to save time. However, for more complex material, I am aware that this will not necessarily work for everyone the first time the material is explained. Therefore, I would repeatedly assure my mentees that they should feel free to ask me questions on any material of which they are unsure, and set aside time to deal with any such queries in a thorough manner. While this might be time-consuming in the short run, it is preferable, in terms of both cost and schedule, that information be comprehended fully before the project is undertaken, as avoidable mistakes are expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately unnecessary.
Due to a Control Account Manager’s varied areas of responsibility, it is imperative that they develop the ability to make quick and intelligent decisions. It is important to realize that a balance must be carefully struck here between speed and due consideration; a Control Account Manager cannot be excessively hasty when making important decisions, nor can they donate too much time to a single issue at the expense of others.
Therefore, my approach to decision making centers around the creation of a system which ensures that this balance is kept in mind at all times when important business decisions are under consideration. Careful time budgeting and preparation are the key to success here, as it is much easier to create a proper framework for decision making when time is plentiful.
Key Functional Strengths
My functional strengths are in the areas of communication and organization. I feel that it is these two qualities that set me apart as a project manager.
I have an aptitude for communicating with people, and this is something which I feel is hugely important in earned value management. As outlined above, communication is a very important element of teamwork and teambuilding, motivation, and mentoring. While functional knowledge of projects, and the tools needed to execute them, is the foundation of a project manager’s skill set, it is impossible for a Control Account Manager to be fully effective in their role without the ability to interact properly with their colleagues, both senior and junior.
I also have a talent for organization, and careful organizing of project elements has always been one of my main strengths in project management. Maintaining records of important variables, and allocating sufficient time to complete all necessary tasks, is of huge importance in project management. This is especially true in terms of accountability, transparency, and problem solving.
Strengthening My Strengths
As well as working to strengthen the areas in which I am already reasonably competent, I feel it is also imperative that I improve the areas of my project management approach that are not as strong. For me, this applies to specific parts of the earned value management process that I have not yet had sufficient experience of, such as completion of the Work Breakdown Structure and Responsibility Assignment Matrix. In order to continue to improve in these areas, I will endeavor to gain as much exposure to them as possible as I progress as a Control Account Manager.
My CCAM Notebook Strategy
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a method by which project tasks are divided into categories, which are then arranged in terms of their level of importance (SimpliLearn, 2019). When compiling and maintaining Work Breakdown Structures during my own project management processes, I find that careful categorization is key to avoid confusion. Certain tasks may cross the boundary between one category and another. In such cases, I decide which category the task in question is most suited to, and then ensure that it remains categorized in this way consistently going forward.
The WBS Dictionary contains a list of every activity or item of work that is required under each heading listed in the Work Breakdown Structure (SimpliLearn, 2019). When compiling these for my own projects, I aim to cover all required elements with sufficient detail, including the project’s aims, its scope, deliverables, available resources, estimated costs and schedule, project milestones, and the activities that will be necessary to complete the project to the required standard.
Work Authorization Document (WAD)
The Work Authorization Document sets out, in concrete terms, the work that is to be undertaken by each area of the project. It can resemble a contractual agreement between the project’s sponsor and the person in charge of the project (NASA, 2015).
As is the case with the WBS Dictionary, I aim to maintain a high level of precision and detailing here. It is always my intention here that confirmation of the cost, scope, and schedule of the project is obvious to anyone examining the Work Authorization Document.
The Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) is a graphic representation of the relationship between the Work Breakdown Structure and the Organizational Breakdown Structure (each of these will be illustrated by one of the graph’s axes). The RAM includes all parties involved in the execution of a contract, including work teams as well as subcontractors and internal organizations with distinct sets of objectives (Humphreys & Associates, 2019).
When producing these, I find that the biggest challenge is striking a balance between detail and brevity. The Responsibility Assignment Matrix should be formatted in such a way that there is no ambiguity regarding the tasks to be taken on by the various operators, but it is also important not to include excessive detail, particularly in terms of the graphic element of the matrix, as this can greatly affect readability.
The Earned Value Management Accountability Transparency and Oversight Matrix (EVMATOM) has been developed and registered by the EVMI. It is a system which effectively seeks greater levels of accountability, problem-solving, oversight, and transparency in earned value management projects. It prioritizes the management of variances that arise during the course of a project, primarily those relating to cost, schedule, and quality (EVMI, 2019).
Because of the matrix’s focus on variances, and how these affect outcomes, I feel that close monitoring of such variances is the key to producing an effective EVMATOM. When working with these matrices, I always keep a close eye on forecasts of costs and schedules, and requirements in terms of project quality. Equally, I aim to always be aware of the factors that could potentially affect these forecasts as the project progresses.
The Schedule Management Plan (SMP) is a tool used in the course of earned value management which relies on six project management functions, namely process modeling, effort estimation, planning, tracking, control, and measurement. The employment of these functions in the execution of the project is based on three principles; firstly, that a project plan should arise from a process model; secondly, that project historical data should form the basis for effort estimation; and thirdly, that the units used for control should be trackable across several phases and activities (Frappier and Richard, 2004).
The most important part of this for me is the accurate calculation of the project management functions. In my experience, as long as the foundational assumptions here are solid, the Schedule Management Plan will be accurate; where these are faulty, however, it is certain that problems will arise. Where, for example, Monthly Project Reports are inaccurate or poorly carried out, the validity of the SMP as a whole will be compromised.
A risk register is a system under which risks are assessed and addressed. Earned value managers should set out an optimistic and a pessimistic assessment of their project, thereby identifying all substantial threats and opportunities. This forms the main basis of the risk register. Known risks are recorded in the risk register initially, while emergent ones are subsequently added as required (Jonas and Bone, 2012).
My approach to this involves vigilance in terms of the emergence of new risks. A comprehensive assessment of risks at the outset of a project will not be sufficient if the project is likely to run for a long period, and it can be easy to miss emerging risks if sufficient care is not taken to observe them.
Cost estimation is of vital importance in terms of variance analysis and planned value (Reichel, 2006). With this in mind, I aim to always be precise and thorough in my cost estimations, taking into account the different factors that may bring about an increase in variable costs, as well as being aware of the possibility of entirely new cost sources that may not have been considered at the project’s outset. This requires careful examination of all existing outflows, as well as areas in which expenditure may be required that have not yet been explored.
The Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB) is a plan (which is phased and dollarized) against which a measurement of accomplished authorized work can be made. The baseline is calculated by reference to the way in which an operator intends to use the resources allocated to it in order to achieve the tasks it is assigned (Department of Defense, 2019).
My focus here is always on precise calculation, and careful evaluation of inputs to ensure that they are correct and appropriate. Inaccuracies here can result in an incorrect assessment of a project’s viability, and may have unfavorable knock-on consequences with regard to costs and schedules.
Quality Improvement Plan
Quality is not something which is taken into account by the EVM methodology (Dodson, 2010), so it is important that earned value managers are conscious of quality improvement and have systems in place to ensure that quality is always a priority in projects. While delivering projects on schedule and within budget constraints is obviously a major consideration for project managers, these factors will count for little if they are not accompanied by a certain level of project quality.
My approach in this area involves a careful evaluation of the level of quality required. While it is always advisable to do the best job possible under the circumstances, I feel that it is counter-productive to chase perfection in areas where it is not required, particularly if this is likely to lead to overruns in terms of cost and schedule.
CPR Format 1 EVM Reporting
Contractor Performance Reporting (CPR) is the way in which Control Account Managers track the performance of independent contractors and their effectiveness in executing their designated roles. It also serves to document the relationship between the project manager and the contractor by keeping a record of all correspondence that passes between the two. “Format 1” in this context refers to reporting on the Work Breakdown Structure. Under this system, performance data is communicated on either a monthly or weekly basis, including both cumulative data and data for the current period (AcqNotes, 2018).
Careful maintenance of records is what I always focus on here. When I deal with cumulative data, it is always a far easier job when the data required is accurate and easily accessible.
The Variance Analysis and Corrective Action Report (VACAR) refers to variance analysis, and the corrective actions that are taken in response to such analysis. In my approach to compiling these (after completing the necessary introductory details, such as the date, project title, and so on) I begin by listing cost drivers and schedule drivers, laying a solid foundation for the rest of the report. I also fill out the required current and cumulative values at this point. As is the case in other areas, careful record keeping is of vital importance here.
Change Management, or Change Control, refers to the systems that aim to address proposed changes in the management system, and the knock-on effects that these have in terms of baselines for costs and schedules. The stages in Change Management include initiation, approval, tracking, and implementation (LCLS, 2006).
Careful consideration of the strategy to be employed is always my primary focus here. There is broad scope here for a project manager, so it is easy to be distracted by unnecessary possibilities for change which could compromise project quality. My goal is always to change as little as possible of a management structure, only making an intervention where one is strictly necessary. Additionally, where this is the case, I will try to execute the change in such a way that as little change as possible occurs to the cost and schedule baselines. Striving to incur as few alterations as possible at this level will be beneficial to the efficiency of the project as a whole.
EVMS Implementation Strategy
The EVMS Implementation Strategy is the culmination of all the items listed here. It consists of an introductory section which details the project’s purpose, specific objectives, and scope, and goes on to detail the steps regarding strategy and implementation in accordance with the guidelines set out by the EIA’s Industry Standards.
When I approach the EVMS Implementation Strategy, I am always careful to adhere to the EIA guidelines, as these provide a strong framework for the communication of strategies and their implementation. Once these are in place, executing a project in an efficient, cost-effective manner becomes much easier.
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