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In previous versions of TruePlanning, it was difficult to add items relating only to Life Cycle. Adding a Hardware element meant having the Weight of the object added to the Assembly and System weights. In TruePlanning 2016, a Life Cycle only (no Acquisition Costs), may have zero weight. The Life Cycle inputs are effectively separated from the Acquisition inputs. You can give an object deployment, Maintenance and Spares locations, Hours of Operation and individual costs and shipping weights. These values will give all the necessary Life Cycle outputs, without affecting the Acquisition Costs. For further details, please consult your named PRICE System Solutions ...
If you’re like me and subscribe to or follow sites and people who care about software, it is likely you are regularly barraged with emails, Tweets, LinkedIn Updates, etc. discussing technical debt and attributing many computer related disasters to be a direct result of technical debt.  The notion of technical debt was introduced in 1992 by Ward Cunningham, writing “Shipping first time code is like going into debt.  A little debt speeds up development so long as it is paid back promptly with a rewrite” [1].  The term technical debt is often used as a metaphor to help ease ...
TruePlanning 2016 takes a large step forward in allowing Maintenance calculation. For example, in previous versions of TruePlanning, the only way a user could specify different on equipment maintenance was by adding a complete worksheet to change the percentage of work done on the equipment. TruePlanning 2016 has a number of Life Cycle inputs added to Hardware and COTS objects to make calculation easier. Among the most important are: Average Number of Parts per Repair – Complex repair may need more than one part per repair. False Failure Fraction - Some pieces of equipment may have ...
In my first blog of this series I introduced you to the Four Pillars of the Affordability Process (As a reminder: the definition of Affordability is: Affordability is the process that balances performance with price to meet customer needs.). They are: Management Support Methodology Training Tools/Automation In this second blog, I will give you my insight and write specifically about the First Pillar: Management Support. It is my personal experience that Management Support of the Affordability Process is the single most important factor that will enable Affordability to flourish ...
As a new trainer/mentor for PRICE Systems, I try to mitigate the uncertainty that each training/mentoring session might expose.   As is typical, questions that often need a deeper answer that we were prepared to provide.   At a recent training session, we were asked for specific instructions on how to export the TruePlanning® cost model into ACE-IT.  Upon returning to my office, I researched the topic in the Help section of the model and was unable to find step-by-step instructions to accomplish this task.  The guidance in the help section states, “You can share TruePlanning data with others by exporting ...
My name is Bill Williamson. Welcome to my blog. I have been in the Defense Industry for over 30 years. I am an affordability and cost estimating subject matter expert (SME). I have 25 years of experience as an Affordability Manager and Cost Estimator. I am an expert in both the PRICE TruePlanning and ACEIT cost models. For my first series of blogs I am going to write about the four pillars of the Affordability Process and provide you my unique insight into making the process work for your program. The definition of Affordability is: the process that balances performance ...
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 ...
Many people suggest that the first instance of an Internet of Things object occurred in the early 80’s with a Coke machine in the Computer Science Department of Carnegie Mellon University.  Apparently the Coke machine was located some distance from the department and the programmers were constantly trekking to the machine for find that it was out of their preferred beverage or to find that it had just been refilled and all the beverages were at room temperature.  Programmers being programmers, they decided to use technology to solve their problem.  They installed sensors and developed a program that would ...
Fast and efficient are good qualities to strive for whether you are creating super-spies, or selecting a format for transferring data. Jason Bourne excelled at what he did largely because he was able to think quickly and react even more quickly. It was fun to watch him get out of situations using his wits that would have left most of us in the fetal position.  Less exciting, but more pertinent to those of us in the fast paced world of software development, is the need to move large amounts of data between two entities. It could be a RESTful ...
“This year companies are focusing their attention on private and hybrid clouds.  Numbers show that hybrid cloud adoption is on fire while Docker and DevOps’ presence becomes indisputable.  2015 may have been the year of the cloud, but this year it is unstoppable; if surveys are right, we should expect 2016 to become the true year of the cloud”.  According to Bernard Golden of CIO magazine, the battle of the infrastructure is over, applications will be the push going forward.  Businesses, especially small and medium size businesses have accepted the fact that in many cases moving their infrastructure to the ...
Part 1 & 2 described 2016’s updates in the Hardware and Software catalogs So what else new has TruePlanning 2016 got in store for its estimating models?  A significantly enhanced approach to estimating Information Technology equipment and Services! Our new approach to IT estimation is to treat deliverables as services which can either be delivered with in house resources or contracted (or some combination of the two).  The list is actually quite an enhancement to our acquisition-only approach-- Software and COTS Related Services –      Application Development Services –      Application Services –      Database Services Equipment Related Services –      End User Services –      ...
Part 1 described 2016’s updates in the Hardware catalog’s for Unmanned Space as well as Additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D Printing). So what is else is forthcoming in TruePlanning v2016, specifically the Software catalog? We’ve done some significant things actually--  Extended sizing with a RICEFW Calculator-- This existing option enhances the “Function Points from RICE” sizing calculator option with the addition of Forms and Workflows. The former counts the forms developed to meet agencies requirements not matched by standard forms in the ERP.  The latter counts the automated business processes that integrate tasks across business units, applications and ...
In our December blog, we described the upcoming Hardware catalog’s new Equipment Type calculator, enhanced significantly with new Unmanned Space manufacturing complexities, both for Earth-Orbiting and Planetary missions.  {We also emailed all customers with a link for updating this calculator in v14.2} So what is else is forthcoming in TruePlanning v2016, specifically the Hardware catalog?  Plenty! We’ve added an Additive Manufacturing Calculator--   The calculator derives a value for Manufacturing Complexity for Structure value (based on core equations from the Hardware Component model) using inputs such as Part Weight, Part Dimensions, Material Type, Manufacturer, 3D Printer, etc. -- The user can also specify post-processing ...
As a builder of cost estimation models, I am constantly look for new sources of data and new ideas and technologies focused on the analysis of this data.  For this reason I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of Big Data and Predictive Analytics.  Towards this goal I happened upon an interesting post the other day that I thought I might share.  While it has nothing to do with cost estimation or cost estimating models, it does shed some pretty interesting light on the ways that the technology around predictive analytics ...
I had the great pleasure to sponsor, attend and speak at the second annual ICEAA Canada Workshop in Ottawa last week. A speaker opened the conference with his personal story of discovering the vast cost estimating and analysis community in America, which motivated him and others to start ICEAA Canada as a means for Canadian estimators to "up their game".  And I must commend the Canadians on their response – it is remarkable.  First, it is important to note that expectations on estimates started to grow in 2013 and continue to this day. It is now expected that evidence-based ...
The Jan/Feb 2016 Crosstalk recently became available on line http://www.crosstalkonline.org/.  In it you will find several great articles but there is one that is a must read if collaboration with a team is an important aspect of your job.  Alistair Cockburn authored a great article call “Increasing collaboration by the Minute”.  In this article he gives a brief summary of the evolution of collaboration citing as well some missteps along the way. As a percent who frequently collaborates with teams, he reflects that he often finds himself in a situation where he wishes he had some tools, right then ...
Introduction This document provides instructions on using a TruePlanning / Crystal Ball Solution that was created for a specific PRICE customer. The solution is based in a macro enabled Excel file. It is an enhancement of the generic TruePlanning / Crystal Ball solution and has been created to allow the customer’s personnel too quickly and easily setup and run analysis on TruePlanning projects using Crystal Ball. The customer had very specific requirements regarding the distributions to be used in uncertainty analysis and this tool was developed to allow them to use set the distributions they desired with minimal effort. The customer ...
Adoption of our Space Missions Catalog has been strong this year.  But many of you have asked if and when the TruePlanning for Hardware Catalog could be enhanced for unmanned space applications, both earth-orbiting & planetary missions.  You asked, we are very soon delivering! For 2016, we will soon roll out an extensive listing of MCPLXSs and MCPLXEs, likely implemented in the Equipment Type input.  This new table of manufacturing complexities was developed specifically for use with the TruePlanning for Hardware catalog.  A combination of three sources of data were utilized:          I.            The PRICE Knowledge Network (KN),       II.            ...
While there was a time in my life when I was not a huge baseball fan – it was fun for a few innings but once I had my fill of hot dogs, peanuts and soda – I was ready to go home.  This changed the day my husband informed me that it was time to sign our four year old up for T-ball.  At least the transformation started that day.  As a mother of two up and coming little leaguers, I spent a lot of time watching baseball games.  And rather than be one of those mothers that ...
In 2015, the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) published the Software Cost Estimation Metrics Manual for Defense Systems. This manual presents the results of research conducted by SERC Researchers Ray Madachy and Brad Clark, who with the help of Barry Boehm, have documented the core metric definitions along with relevant and useful cost estimating relationships for software intensive defense systems. The e-book is available for download at the following link… http://cdn.sercuarc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Software-Cost-Estimation-Metrics-Manual-for-Defense-Systems.pdf What’s great about this manual is that it covers best practices specific to software systems in the areas of measurement, data collection, normalization, analysis, benchmarking, and CER development.  The ...
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 30th annual COCOMO Forum in Arlington, VA.  As always it was an informative and enjoyable exchange of software and system estimating topics and challenges with some of the brightest practitioners in the industry.  Topics ranged from technical debt and software maintenance, early phase effort and schedule estimation, COSMIC function points and various data analytics topics.  In addition to the presentations there were several lively workshop panels discussing and debating future directions for the COCOMO and CoSysmo models (contemplating the 3.0 versions of each of these models. While all the talks were ...
For all you legacy PRICE-H users, your requests were heard loud & clear regarding estimation of multiple production lots, to include the option of specifying gaps between lot runs. The new Multi-Lot solution is controlled at the system-level via a Production Learning Gap Loss Factor  input.  It’s set at the top-folder object, under the Detailed Estimate input #62.  This input serves as a linear multiplier to adjust or eliminate the setback (gap) between lots of a multiple lot production run. This control hence allows you to account for more or less "loss of learning" during the gap.  Setback can be ...
We presented the results of an independent study last month at NASA’s annual Cost Symposium.  For those of you unable to attend, we thought it only fair to publish the highlights.  As background, the TruePlanning for Space Missions Catalog (“TPSM”) has been well-received since its official launch at last year’s Symposium by our Chief Scientist.  Since then, we’ve done Space-related webinars and multiple blogs, all available on this website.  However, what was impressed upon us by a longtime NASA customer, at the recent ICEEA annual conference, was that our users would highly benefit from a validation study that they could ...
We’ve wrapped up our first phase of research on the cost implications of Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, and we have just begun phase two.  We teamed up with Additive Manufacturing groups in academia and industry, developed a research approach and estimating structure with the guidance of experts, and began collecting cost and technical data.  So far, we have gathered 648 datapoints from 3 organizations, which mainly includes data from 6 different printers.  The data are mostly for stereolithography (SLA) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) processes.  For our first cut at the data analysis, the ...
Original Post date: October 14, 2015 A few weeks ago I encountered a question from some users modeling an aircraft project with some prototypes and a number of production units.  They wanted to make sure that they accounted for the cost of upgrading the Prototypes to Flight/Production units, while using a fairly detailed product breakdown structure.  So the Prototypes would be built up with an initial design, and then certain parts would be upgraded after the design was refined to become full flight units.  Here are a few different ways to approach this issue: 1.       Additional Prototypes – The most simplified ...
Original Post Date: October 8, 2015 Excel is easily the most common and widely used tool in the Cost Estimation universe. It can be used as a scratch pad, report generator, import/export vehicle, data repository as well as countless other applications. The Excel / TruePlanning interface is one of the first topics new users want to dive into. Currently TruePlanning can export and import Excel files directly, create reports in Excel and has two Excel based solutions for working with TruePlanning directly in Excel. The ‘big gun’ of the Excel interfaces is the “Excel Solution”. It is a macro enabled ...
Original Post Date: October 8, 2015 Over the last couple of months PRICE has received a number of support calls related to an inability to import or export *.tpprj files from TruePlanning. When an import or export is attempted users are receiving an error indicating a “bad parameter or missing node”. The cause of this error has been a case of a missing XML library known as the MSXML4 library. MSXML4 had been installed as part of Windows operating systems by default for years, but newer versions of XML libraries have been created and are now used exclusively so new installations ...
Original Post Date: October 8, 2015 The TruePlanning’s plug-in to Model Center has had an update to fix some issues that were found with the plug-in. - Removed extra elements that had been appearing the Model Center’s Model tree. Users were finding that as they worked with the TruePlanning plug-in, elements from the selected TruePlanning project were appearing in the Model tree with zero values. - The error displayed when the plug-in is used with a TruePlanning database with no projects saved was updated to clearly indicate that there were no projects in the database. - Links created between the TruePlanning plug-in elements ...
Original Post Date: September 30, 2015 ‘It’s crazy to think that you’ll be good at estimating things that haven’t happened yet, if you can’t even accurately say how long things that have happened took.”  This quote from the blog post “5 Ways Software Developers Can Become Better at Estimation” (http://www.javacodegeeks.com/2014/10/5-ways-software-developers-can-become-better-at-estimation.html)  speaks volumes.  The current mantra – at least in the Aerospace and Defense communities is data driven estimation.  Estimates without solid project history data to back them up are consistently rejected or approved with substantial risk assigned.  Data collection in the world of estimation is no longer a nice to ...
Original Post date: September 30, 2015 I recently read an interesting article in IEEE Spectrum “The 2015 Top Ten Programming Languages” (http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/the-2015-top-ten-programming-languages).  The article fairly states that popularity of a programming language is clearly subjective – depending on what the goals of the end user are but they tried to adjust their weightings based on their perception of the interests of the members of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Many of the results of their ranking were expected and not particularly interesting.  Java, C, C++, C# and Python continue to be the top 5 programming languages that developers ...
Original Post Date: September 30, 2015 The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of things (people, objects, animals, etc) that can share data without human to human or human to machine interactions.  A ‘thing’ in the IoT represents any object that can be assigned an IP address and can transfer data over a network.  Examples of such objects include an animal with a microchip embedded in its collar to monitor health or for easy location, a person wearing an activity tracker, a person with a medical implant that communicates health conditions to a hospital or health care professional, a ...
Original Post Date: September 30, 2015 I was asked recently to provide insight on where & how some of customer organizations utilize PRICE in instituting a “Center of Excellence” using our software toolsets.  Of course, I’ll keep the names generic as you hopefully learn more from two instances where we are quite proud of their progress incorporating our tools into their workflows and business practices.  Below are two examples. A major military/commercial aerospace company has relied upon PRICE software as its primary estimating toolset for over 25 years.  Its Affordability Analysis group is recognized and utilized as the company’s lead in parametric ...
Original Post Date: September 30, 2015 One of our larger commercial customers asked for the ability to estimate the “learned out” Nth unit.   As always, we are here to hear you and your immediate needs.  Still in beta-test, the following is our pending new solution.  But we’d like to hear from you too here. On the "Metrics" tab, there will be an output called "Cost of Nth Unit".  This new value represents the theoretical cost of the Nth production unit, based on learning curve calculations— unless you override with your own curve values.  You will see this learned-out unit cost at ...
Original Post Date: September 30, 2015 If you’ve ever taken one of my classes, you know how much the Find & Replace function “is my friend.”  Well, it just got a lot more flexible and powerful.  Thanks to your requests (especially by NASA), we’ve added a number of new features and utility functions within the tool.   o Easy Access:   You can now access F&R from any of the input sheets, as well as from the attributes tab and within editing a worksheet set.  Simply right click an item’s Value cell and select the F&R option. o  Multiple F&R:  You can ...
Original Post Date: June 29, 2015 I read an article this week, called “7 Questions to Answer when making bid/no bid decisions” by Bob Lohfeld on WashingtonTechnology.com, and it really hit home with my past experiences estimating on the contractor side of things.  He talks about why some companies have higher win rates than others, and how it’s really all related to the decision making process.  Why do organizations choose to bid on projects, and why would they choose not to bid?  In some cases, choosing not to bid on a risky project will save tons of time and energy ...
Original Post Date: June 2, 2015 At PRICE Systems, we always tout that calibration of past actual cost and schedule data is the best way to get to an accurate, data-driven estimate.  I received a call recently to see if we have a set of best practices for calibration, but in reality the calibration process itself is a fairly simple process, it’s the data collection and normalization that happens before the calibration step that is really important.  This is partly because the assumptions you make when collecting the data and building the calibration file should drive how you use the ...
Original Post Date: 05/15/2015 The Space Missions Catalog for TruePlanning has been out in the field now for over 6 months now, and as estimators get to understand these new cost objects, many questions arise.  As you may know, the Space Missions Catalog was designed to estimate the total cost (or price) of NASA Robotic Earth and Space Science Missions, and while it is very valuable to understand the total expected cost of a mission, you always want more details.  In the case of Space Missions, one often heard question is, “How much of this is associated with the NASA ...
Original Post Date: July 2, 2015 One topic we’re focusing on for the next version of TruePlanning is supporting a variety of methods for estimating an activity.  For example, we currently have sophisticated algorithms supporting our estimation of spare units/modules/parts, which depend on characteristics of the item, as well as the operating and support (O&S) scenario described.  However, there are often good reasons for wanting to use a different method to estimate these costs, and we’d like to give users the ability to pick from a variety of methods. Many users want to be able to estimate initial spares costs before ...
Original Post Date: July 1, 2015   Introduction The latest version of PRICE’s “Large Project Engine” allows users to update the values in calculators through Excel. While calculators are designed to be easy to use and user friendly, there are times when it is convenient to update the data in a calculator in Excel. The following blog will provide details on how to do this. This blog assumes users have installed the “LPE”. The LPE’s installation files are available on the TruePlanning installation media. The LPE is an Excel plug-in which means it will create a menu in Excel which is always ...
Original Post Date: July 1, 2015   Introduction A new version of PRICE’s Excel Add-in for TruePlanning, the Large Project Engine (LPE) has been created that allows users to select TruePlanning project files as well as projects in the database.   Usage When selecting a behavior in the LPE that targets a TruePlanning project, users can now pick TruePlanning project files (*.tpprj) files as well as TruePlanning projects that are stored in the database. Operations that support this can be identified by the small down arrow in the ribbon menu buttons which indicates a ‘split button’. When the buttons are used, users are given ...
Original Post Date: July 1, 2015 Introduction                Consumers of cost estimates need to understand how risk  and uncertainty impacts their estimates and, as such, performing Monte Carlo analysis is becoming a required step in producing a cost estimate at many organizations. One of the most popular Monte Carlo tools is Oracle’s Crystal Ball and PRICE has produced an Excel based solution that allows users to perform Monte Carlo analysis on their TruePlanning estimates. With this combined solution users can run risk/uncertainty analysis on their parametric estimates using an industry standard tool. The Issue In the TruePlanning/Crystal Ball solution, users select TruePlanning ...