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Use of additive manufacturing (AM) has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, particularly in the automotive, healthcare and aerospace and defense industries.  AM differs from traditional manufacturing processes in that raw materials are slowly added together by a chemical or heat process to form the finished component.  In traditional manufacturing, material is typically removed from a larger piece of raw material until the finished component remains. With the increased use of AM comes an increase in capability, quality, and capacity.  We will examine how additive manufacturing could change the way we estimate compared to traditional manufacturing processes. A key ...
Importance of proper PBS structure Properly organizing your Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) in TruePlanning® is a critical first step to an accurate and defensible estimate.  The fundamental questions to ask are: What are you estimating? How is the system built? Where does integration occur? The answers to these three questions will assist the estimator in developing a PBS that truly reflects the work being accomplished.  Incorrectly structured projects may result in overestimation due to unnecessary levels of integration and test.  There is also a risk of underestimation by leaving out necessary levels ...
We’ve kicked off a study on the cost impacts of various quality assurance standards, and this post gives our preliminary results for modeling DO-178c and DO-254 in TruePlanning®.  DO-178c and DO-254 are standards that deal with the safety of software and electronics used in airborne systems.  It began as a standard used predominately by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for commercial aircraft, and its usage has spread significantly to the U.S. military and many other countries. All of the software and electronics on-board an aircraft are categorized into 5 Design Assurance Levels (DAL) based on how failure of ...
Original Post Date: Friday, November 7, 2014 We’ve recently completed a case study using TruePlanning for Microcircuits to examine the cost impacts of using newer technologies.  Recently, radar T/R module designers have begun substituting Gallium Nitride (GaN) substrates in place of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) substrates in their designs.  GaN chips can handle significantly more power than GaAs chips, which enables significant performance benefits, while reducing the size/number of chips needed in each module.  But, are the newer GaN chips affordable? The IC fabrication process for GaAs circuits is very similar to GaN circuits.  There are, however, some important differences between these ...
Here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately  - technical debt and its relationships to software maintenance costs.  Technical debt speaks to the structural quality of software applications.  Technical debt is incurred for many different reasons; sometimes it is intentional when shortcuts are taken to meet a time to market requirement; sometimes it occurs because a development team gets sloppy about applying good coding practices (or a development team has not documented coding practices); sometimes it happens when the technology in an application is not kept up to date and it literally gets lapped by technology. Not all technical ...
Here’s a great blog about estimates. The first thing I liked about it was the author managed to quote Lewis Caroll in a blog about software estimation.  You can’t really go wrong if you can quote Lewis Caroll and invoke iconic memories about “Through the Looking Glass”.  The specific quote refers to the word “Estimate” and goes like this - “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” The author posits that maybe before we perform an estimate, and certainly before we consume one – we should remind ourselves ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 The first time I remember hearing the term, “data driven estimating,” was at an ISPA/SCEA conference in Phoenix about 6 years ago. I thought I had a pretty good concept of what that meant. Then, I started hearing it more frequently about 6 to 9 months ago, and I wasn’t as sure of my understanding. So, I went to the Internet and Googled, “Data Driven Estimating.”  The first 3 pages yield links to statistical, engineering, and technical estimating founded on data; e.g. packet routing, data delivery rate, radar and rain gage data, ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 The GAO just published a report saying that strong leadership is key to planning and executing stable weapons programs. And, evidence is presented to back the claim, including result from study of a subset of the 21% of the 2008 defense programs that were deemed stable - on track with original estimates of cost and schedule. What kind of strong leadership made these programs stable? Things like experience, continuity, and open and honest communication, knowledge-based planning, disciplined execution of plans, and establishment of realistic cost and schedule estimates that account for risk are all cited.  Here’s ...
Original Post Date: Friday, July 9, 2010  While sitting in the operatory chair yesterday, my dentist said something that made me stop. He was complaining about an increasing rate of incompetence and apathy he observes in those delivering services to him. And while I do agree with him in principal, he and I are of the age where some folks label us as grumpy old men. So, it may not be as bad as we think. Regardless, the statement he said he made to the an unfortunate poor-quality service provider was, “If you don’t have the time to do it ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 About 75 aerospace & defense (A&D) sector leaders met at an executive summit in Annapolis, MD several weeks ago. Among the topics was a warning about growth in the amount of overruns in the A&D sector. Deloitte produced an analysis of the overrun of major defense acquisition programs relative to their baseline price which showed an unappealing straight-line growth – 26% (growth over baseline) in 2008, projected to be 46% by 2018. A conclusion being tossed about was that the country cannot afford a future like this. Didn’t Norm Augustine come to a ...