• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management  



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Original Post Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 In September of 2009 the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) submitted a report[1] discussing the lack of robust Analysis of Alternatives for weapons systems. The report indicated that … “Cost, schedule, and performance problems in the Department of Defense’s (DOD) weapon system programs are serious. Why is it that DoD weapons programs experience a simultaneous cost growth and performance degradation? I believe the answer is found in unrealistic cost estimates and schedule estimates mostly driven by pressure to win a program within a certain budget constraint. Excessive requirements change either through poor ...
Original Post Date: Monday, June 7, 2010 Currently we are exploring the best approach to including a more comprehensive cost estimate for Total Ownership Costs (TOC) into TruePlanning. The current version of the software has focused on development and production costs with some life cycle costing including. The life cycle costs included are focused on the system specific O&S costs such as initial spares for priming the supply pipeline, maintenance, replenishment spares, etc. It is a system view as opposed to a program view of TOC. As we better understand the need to conduct affordability studies it has become clear that design decisions ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, July 15, 2010  “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” This is a famous quote by author and US. State Department spokesman Robert McCloskey (September 15, 1914 – June 30 2003) and was attributed to him by Marvin Kalb, a CBS reporter, in TV Guide 31 March 1984. This quote was in reference to a press briefing during the Vietnam War. What it really addresses is the ease to which the communication of the meaning / understanding ...
Original Post Date: Monday, September 20, 2010 I have been fortunate in my career to have been associated with some great mentors. Each individual has provided me a bit of a golden nugget to carry with me as I tried to navigate my way through the professional waters. My first “civilian” manager, after I left the service and joined industry, provided me a list of the Laws of Analysis (I had just started a position as an operations research analyst). He explained that this list was a mix of serious and tongue in cheek snippets of wisdom. I looked at ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 In May of this year the Washington Post published an editorial article on the need to reduce waste in the Defense Department. The byline of the article was “Defense Secretary Gates’s war of necessity against wasteful spending.” In this article the writer points out that the secretary is taking on the challenge of maintaining our military force [at reasonable level of effectiveness] during a time in which the President and Congress are seeking cost savings / reductions based on the decrease in our presence in Iraq.  Mr. Gates goal is to look for efficiencies ...
Original Post Date: Monday, November 8, 2010  Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in 1878 in her book Molly Bawn coined the phrase …”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. This concept of the “value of beauty” has been expressed by others such as:    Benjamin Frankin in Poor Richards Almanack 1741 when he wrote;                 “Beauty, like supreme dominion                 Is but supported by opinion” David Hume in Moral and Political 1742 “Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.”   So what does this have to do with Cost Benefit? Well Merriam-Webster dictionary defines benefit as something that provides useful aid. Inherent in the term “useful” is ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 To me the greatest strength of TruePlannning®  is its flexibility and wide range of parameters. AND, to me the greatest weakness of TruePlanning®  is its’ flexibility and wide range of parameters. The nature of the TruePlanning® framework, the idea of cost catalogs with cost objects, and the implementation of activity based costing allows or provides for a wide range of solutions to our cost estimating requirements. TruePlanning’s ® ability to address a wide range of cost problems lies in its flexibility and extensibility. The clever use of worksheets, multipliers, and the product breakdown ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012  Over the past year and half of customer mentoring, I have been responding to more and more requests regarding how to represent the DoD Acquisition Phases in the development of TruePlanning® cost estimates. With the renewed interest in Total Ownership Costs, there appears to be a desire to have greater visibility into costs by appropriation over a well-defined / understood schedule. This need to estimate and report out on cost by appropriation and schedule has been a driver behind the need to represent the acquisition phases more explicitly within TruePlanning® than is ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Recently I wrote a blog on the “Role of Value Engineering in Affordability Analysis.” In that blog, I wrote about the importance of understanding the cost behavior of each candidate's (alternative) architecture as part of the Value Engineering method in order to achieve affordability. I defined “cost behavior” as the relationship of how cost varies as design factors such as new materials, cutting edge technology, new manufacturing processes, and extensive support requirements associated with a particular function causes a cost to change. What are the drivers and how does cost change as those ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 5, 2012 I am currently involved in co-authoring a white paper on the “Role of Value Engineering in Affordability Analysis.” For the purposes of this discussion I define affordability as that characteristic of a product or service that responds to the buyer’s price, performance, and availability needs simultaneously. The writing of this white paper has been an interesting exercise for me because my fellow co-authors come from different backgrounds and thus have very different points of view. The majority of my colleagues are “card carrying” Systems Engineers. As such, they have a perspective that ...