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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: Friday, March 4, 2011 I consistently run into this idea of data driven estimating.  Yet, there is no clear explanation of this concept.  I am not trying to provide one here, however, I am interested in is what is at the root of this growing movement.  My take is that it is an attempt to scratch an itch.  But what’s the itch? I believe it is related to my early post (Accuracy is Risky Business).  In the struggle to answer the accuracy question people have decided that understanding the data used in the estimating process is key ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 The concept of the fuel cell was first published in 1938 by Christian Friedrich Schonbein.  Based on this publication Sir William Grove invented the precursor of the fuel cell in 1839. The Grove Cell created current by applying two acids to zinc and platinum electrodes separated by a porous ceramic pot.  In 1842 Grove developed the first actual fuel cell which produced electricity with hydrogen and oxygen, much like many fuel cells in use today. Fuel cells remained an intellectual curiosity until the 1960’s when the US space program identified a requirement for ...
Original Post Date: Monday, February 28, 2011 PRICE Systems recently accepted an assignment to complete a "Should Cost" estimate for a U.S. ally on a weapon system. The estimate included not only analysis on production costs, but also should cost on various operations and support costs. The only information provided by the client was quantity and time frame for production. A major ground rule for the estimate was that all data specific to the weapon system must come from publicly available information.  For example, mass, manufacturing process, and learning curve information must come from the public domain.  After reviewing the scope for the estimate, we decided to also ...
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: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 In the world of estimating, accuracy is the first question out of people’s mouths.  Above all else they want to know the accuracy of an estimate.  How accurate is that approximate judgment?  Craziness! True accuracy can only be determined after the project or effort has been completed and a post-audit analysis reconciles what was expected to happen with what did happen.  This is a very expensive, time consuming process that many preach about but few actually attempt.  In my experience, when people ask about accuracy what they are really interested in is ...
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 ...