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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 Don't reinvent the wheel.  It's a waste of time and effort.  All too often I see organizations establishing measurement programs or new software estimation intiatives and they want to build everything from the ground up.  Mistake, mistake, mistake... People have gone before you.  Learn from them.  Take their ideas and go forward from there.  In the past year, I have architected the implemention of our software cost estimation tools at two large federal agencies and two DoD programs.  Teaching people how to estimate is easy.  Teaching them how to find the data to develop estimates is ...
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: Monday, February 28, 2011 What follows is PRICE's interpretation of the DOD-HDBK-343, which addresses design, construction and testing requirements for a type of space equipment. Within the document are specified several levels of Class Definitions for space programs, space vehicles and space experiments. The classes are briefly described below. Class A - High Priority, Minimum Risk Class B - Risk with Cost Compromises Economically Re-flyable or Repeatable Minimum Acquisition Cost HDBK-343, originally published in 1986, was reviewed and found to be still valid in 1992.  We can't due ...
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 ...
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 ...