• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management  



Blog



Original Post Date: Thursday, May 6, 2010 I am excited about the efforts described in Derek Kaufman’s article on the AFMC website.  For the complete story please see this link http://www.afmc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123202181. The DoD is investing in the rapid build up of a new foundation of acquisition workers focused on estimating costs and negotiating prices through continuous learning.    Mr. Assad notes that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was once the preeminent DoD recognized leader at estimating costs and negotiating prices with defense contractors. It's a skill that has been allowed to atrophy, he noted.   "We need to build that pricing capability back ...
Original Post Date: Friday, April 30, 2010 I have been frequently asked to do crosschecks on other people’s software cost estimates which are potentially done in a variety of tools from spreadsheets to SLIM. One of the common operator errors I see from other users is not understanding what activities and resources are included in the outputs of the particular tool that they are estimating with. This is akin to deciding between two cars and not knowing if both come with the same sets of features (stereo, AC, heated seats).   With software estimation tools you need to know what work is getting estimated ...
Original Post Date: Friday, April 2, 2010  The newest version of TruePlanning has been released and distributed to customers. The new features were designed to make it easier to estimate entire systems, not just individual components or sub-systems. TruePlanning is an excellent solution in this regards. Systems that require you to estimate software costs, hardware costs, and the integration of multiple pieces of each can all be done in one framework. There are  specific features in this release, like input inheritance, that allow you to make changes at the top Project level which then flow throughout the entire system.  This saves an ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, April 1, 2010 Recently Dale Shermon of PRICE Systems gave a webinar presentation “Delivering Programs with TOC and CAIV” which looks at the application of parametric cost estimation in the context of determining a delivery strategy.  He then walks through the Cost as an Independent Variable (CAIV) process that is often employed within a Total Ownership Cost (TOC) approach to estimating. Often, once a large defense contract is won by the business development team the program delivery team then has the job of figuring out “Ok, what exactly have we just won and how do we deliver it?” Dale’s presentation does an ...
Orignal Post Date: Thursday, April 1, 2010 Here are some choices to the question: 1. By comparing with old analogous data? 2. Creating and presenting the basis of estimate (BOE) documentation? 3. Illustrating a track back to cost estimating relationships (CERs) and their referenced historical databases? 4. Demonstrate that the estimate came from a reputable parametric tool like TruePlanning? 5.  Any other approach? 6.  All of the above or some combination of these approaches? 7.  You don't have this problem i.e. you never had a need to prove the credibility of your estimates? If the answer is point number 7, ...
Orignal Post Date: Thursday, February 11, 2010 That’s a question that members of the cost estimating community will try to answer at next week’s  43rd Annual DoDCAS symposium. The conference is centered around the “theory and implementation” of the WSARA 2009 (Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act). Simply put, the cost estimating community needs to first and foremost understand what the real life implications of the WSARA will be. At least in theory that is.   According to GAO, nearly 70% of the Pentagon’s 96 biggest weapons programs were over budget in 2008 and another government report found $295 billion in waste ...
Orignal Post Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010  It’s a common practice to measure failure or success of a project based on the initial functionality requirements and initial cost and schedule estimated. The Standish Group publishes its Chaos report for software projects which terms a project as a "Success" if it is completed on time, on budget, and satisfying all the initial requirements. Projects are deemed a "Challenged" if functionality is achieved but cost and schedule over runs occur and "Failed" if a project is cancelled while in execution. However there are other factors e.g. Tom DeMarco’s  Estimation Quality Factor  and Boehm’s Cone of Uncertainty (COU) ...
Original Post Date: Friday, January 15, 2010 Failed software projects are always bad but there are additional complications when there is a contract in place to deliver the software.  Disputes over failed software can result in costly litigation that generally damages both the vendor and the buyer. According to observations of Capers Jones in "Conflict and Litigation Between Software Clients and Developers" (2007) , 5% of the projects his clients were involved in either had litigation pending or were currently involved in litigation over project failures.  His findings indicate that it is very large projects, over 10,000 Function Points that ...
Original Post Date: Friday, December 18, 2009 The cost estimating community mourns the loss of a true pioneer this week. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Frank Freiman has a special place in the history of PRICE Systems as his innovative work is directly responsible for the company’s existence today. This is a classic case of where one man can truly made a difference. Thousands of estimators across the world have benefited and continue to benefit from his accomplishments. Frank began studying the applications of statistical quality control as an officer in the US Army during World War ...
Original Post Date: Monday, November 30, 2009 It seems that business and government today is mired in cost-benefit analysis. The cost side is fairly easy to understand: how much money will the business (or government) have to expend to deliver a given service? Benefits are a little harder to quantify. First, there is the difference between monetary versus non-monetary or social benefits. Some things like the office Christmas Party do not make any money but they keep morale high. Second, there is the difference between short-term and long-term costs and benefits. The company using Blackberries may bring the immediate satisfaction ...