• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management  



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While employed with the federal government as a cost estimator/analyst, I traditionally used a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), more specifically, an 881C template, when doing a cost estimate.  I was introduced to PRICE TruePlanning®, which uses a Product Breakdown Structure (PBS), a few years after I started with the Department of Defense as a Cost Estimator.  Initial confusion and bafflement fell upon me—what is the difference and which breakdown structure should I use?  My search for clarification created an opportunity to address this subject briefly in hopes that it helps others with the same questions and confusion I dealt ...
If you’ve taken my Software Training class, you’ve heard me use the analogy of “taking someone else’s spreadsheet and adding your own logic” to distinguish between modifications, adapted code and glue code.  But let’s take a step back to make sure we’re all in agreement {if not, blame me not the product!} #1.) To be clear, COTS is shrink-wrapped, ready-to-go with near-zero modification to core functionality.  Generally, we really prefer to see COTS modification no more than 10%. #2.) If this latter core functionality needs modification, then we recommend using the SW Component object with Adapted code, as well as Reused ...
Last week as I sat in my office gazing out the window, I was struck by the throngs of people outside my window lurching distractedly through the parking lot staring at their phones.  Turns out that the water tower in the back of our office is a Poke Stop – part of the new Pokemon Go craze.  In case you live under a rock, Pokemon Go is the new smart phone game that allows one to wonder around the real (physical) world collecting Pokemon.  The game can be downloaded for free for either the iPhone or Android.  Once you ...
TruePlanning® 2016 will be coming out very soon, and with it, we will debut a new set of cost estimation models for Operational / Site Activation / Deployment of automated information systems (AIS).  These models capture the costs of system deployment activities on one or more sites (study visits, installation, commissioning, migration, etc...).  These activities are performed in a design office and on the sites defined by the contract.  They begin at the end of the development phase and continue through the installation phase of the site’s systems. The model was built with the guidance from experts with 30+ years ...
Calibration is at the heart of cost analytics and TruePlanning’s support for calibration is one of the features that makes the TruePlanning suite of products the premier suite for performing cost analytics. TruePlanning has a built in calibration feature that allows users to set up and perform calibrations repeatedly. Additionally, the Excel based Excel Solution provided by PRICE supports calibration efforts from Excel. The “new for TruePlanning 2016” TruePlanningXL also supports calibration from Excel. TruePlanningXL is a new Excel Add-in provided by PRICE to allow users to work more efficiently in Excel with the suite of TruePlanning products. TruePlanningXL only ...
This June, I presented at the “Government Contract Pricing Summit”. The topic of the presentation was the integration of TruePlanning and ProPricer. The participants of the summit were generally long time ProPricer users, but not familiar with TruePlanning, so it was a great opportunity to be able to meet new pepole in the price/costing world. When talking with long time ProPricer users the question I would ask them was: “Where do the hours come from?”  ProPricer is an industry leading software for the management and production of bids. ProPricer allows users to setup and maintain costing and burdening data, ...
TruePlanning® 2016 will be coming out very soon, and one of its new capabilities is modeling of scheduled maintenance activities.  Our hardware operation and support (O&S) model has historically focused on the costs involved with unscheduled maintenance, which are maintenance activities that react to a situation (e.g. a system failure) that needs to be fixed or replaced.  However, scheduled maintenance can also be a significant cost, and this can now be captured by our hardware model.  Here are some example situations that can now be easily modeled. Scheduled maintenance is performed at regular intervals, which can be based on calendar ...
TrueFindings helps users make sense of their data by allowing them to perform analysis that leads to the production of defendable estimates in TruePlanning. TrueFindings simplifies and promotes data management in a repeatable cost analytic-centric process. PRICE is always looking for ways to help users get the most out of the tools it provides. In TruePlanning 2016 PRICE will be providing a new high performance Excel interface and as part of this interface users will be able to move data from TruePlanning projects into an Excel file that can be natively imported by TrueFindings. TruePlanningXL is the new high ...
Here’s a great article written by Charles Symon’s discussing current challenges in software project estimation and how different organizational cultures deal with them differently.  http://nesma.org/2015/10/chaotic-and-controlled-software-project-estimating/.  According to the author, in a study of 105 software projects completed between 1997 and 2007 in the UK public sector – 30% were terminated, 57% experienced cost overruns averaging 30.5% and 33% suffered major delays. (“Cost over-runs, delays and terminations: 105 outsourced public escort ICT projects – D. Whitfield).  And this is only one study; any of us who live in the software world have heard more than our share of tales of ...
http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/702523/26890568/1456888603297/201603-Cook.pdf?token=0f54EHOm9BNwSNhf3UAOmWk1mjs%3D Check out this article from the March/April issue of Crosstalk.  As is my custom, I start from the back with BackTalk – usually a short somewhat pithy commentary (General written by David Cook of Austin State University) on software related topics.  In this issue David starts with a stroll down memory lane – his own personal journey into software engineering – beginning back in the days when we when coded using cards or paper tape or connected to a mainframe via a 300 baud modem.   The point of the article was Security and Defensive Coding – he started with ...