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Original Post Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 ...wear the worst shoes. The cobbler was a master at his craft; he was just too tired to practice it when he got home from the shop.  Sound familiar? A disciplined approach to understanding (functional) requirements as well as analogous projects (with actuals) is our not-so-secret sauce. Why run the risk of creeping back up our career learning curve? There’s already enough scope creep to keep us busy. Plus, for you management types charged with prospecting, a consistent approach towards estimation is a great way to connect with people who've felt the pain of being the cobbler's kids. I recently reconnected ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 In Parametrics is Free, I acknowledged receiving (too late) “you should’ve known to ask that” over the years. Quality control after-the-fact is fine; but it’s better and cheaper to take a systematic approach to quality assurance as part of your estimating process. The sheer volume of what we model can often keep us so close to the details that we are unable to step back and put on our QA hat on for a sanity check. Enter Quality! On a very large project, our team has introduced a few regular cross-checks, notwithstanding typical math check-sums.   A round table peer ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 I’m not a golfer. But we’ve all heard one say “that’s why I play” after hitting a shot and feeling like it all came together. What “it” is, in terms of mechanics and timing, I’m not really sure.  In our own world of parametrics, it’s the feeling of adding value in that golden moment of facilitating decisions and forward momentum. We wear many hats: estimating, consulting, systems engineering...even cost accounting.  Building an AoA, ICE or ROM is where rubber-meets-the-road in regards to configurations and assumptions.  Not too long ago I was in a discussion with a number of Subject Matter Experts ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 In my blog last week on Work Breakdown Structures, we reviewed the subtleties of using the [object] tag to your advantage in creating different sorts and roll up subtotals. As a followup, I’d like to drill down a bit on the initial step of using the “copy grid” exports. Each row number is unique, thus creating an identifying key for the vlookup function in Excel. Since all object X activity instances are allocated 100% to one of the three phases (with very rare exception), these row keys allow you to sort and re-group outputs while maintaining ...
Original Post Date: Monday, February 28, 2011 I recently attended the Wharton Aerospace Conference and Federal Networks 2011.  Amid the obligatory discussions about the economic climate and federal budget deficit, an interesting topic bubbled up.  There  was a certain preoccupation with an idea called ‘consumerism.’  According to Webster, consumerism means "...the promotion of the consumer's interests; the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable; a preoccupation with and an inclination towards the buying of consumer goods." As is often the case, there is a difference between definition and connotation. The intended meaning of consumerism at these events was the ...
Original Post Date: Friday, February 25, 2011 PRICE Systems is currently developing a COM interface for TruePlanning. I know, I know…  What’s COM you say? COM stands for (Component Object Model) and it's a programmable interface which exposes the TruePlanning estimating brains for integration and analysis!  I know it sounds boring but it’s really cool because it allows anyone, including our users, to build “apps” for TruePlanning similar to the way “apps” are built for the iPhone.  Let me give you some examples of some apps that you can build:  Excel solution, sensitivity analysis,  project comparison, risk simulation, total cost of ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 In the February 2011 issue of National Defense, I was struck by the article “Uncertain Path Ahead for Military Truck Fleet”[1]. This article centered on the best strategies for modernization of the aging fleet of Humvees. The recapitalization of 150,000 Army and 25,000 Marine Corps Humvees is creating a “fix or buy new” dilemna for decision makers. According to the article, GAO analyst Michael J. Sullivan should include a “cost-benefit analysis that would minimize the collective acquisition and support costs of the various truck programs, and reduce the risk of overlap or ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, February 17, 2011 My June blog entry suggested the use of parametrics in real-options valuation. This month, I’d like to offer the generalized use of our type of modeling in valuing tangible assets.  Typically, fundamental analysis evaluates the intrinsic value of securities. I won’t attempt to compete with Warren Buffet here. But it is certainly the case that a company, or portfolio of securities reflecting many companies, is based in part on the market value of its product assets and their potential for future earnings, as well as other objective and subjective considerations. In parametric estimation, we take a top-down ...
Original Post Date: Friday, February 11, 2011 The DoD Cost Analysis Symposium (DODCAS 2011) is next week, Feb 15-18.  I’ll be there along with several of my colleagues at PRICE Systems.  This conference consistently provides an excellent source of information and shared experiences for the acquisition community and I am anxious to attend again this year.  Last year the conference occurred shortly after Congress passed the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 (WSARA) - and the majority of the sessions were focused on discussions about how the services, contractors and the government leadership planned on dealing with this new law.  From ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2011  TruePlanning 2010 SR1 estimation software is now available as an upgrade for existing PRICE customers. The most significant update to this version of TruePlanning is the capability to use both parametric estimating models as well as analogous data to produce estimates. This capability validates and increases the defensibility of estimates. TruePlanning provides a framework that allows content driven parametric models to be estimated in one system. Most notably, hardware, software, IT and Systems of Systems (SoS). No other commercially available estimating tool can make that claim. However, whereas in previous versions estimates relied on ...