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I hope you have enjoyed my series of blogs on the Four Pillars of Affordability. I have tried to impart to you what I have learned during my 30 years in the Defense Industry and the last 25 years as an Affordability Manager and cost estimator. The purpose of the Four Pillars of Affordability is to enable you, and your program, to develop a product for your customer that is considered affordable and ultimately, a value to them. My definition of Affordability is: Affordability is the process that balances performance with price to meet customer needs. A product is ...
In my first blog of this series I introduced you to the Four Pillars of the Affordability Process. They are: 1.       Management Support 2.       Methodology 3.       Training 4.       Tools/Automation In this fifth blog I write about the Fourth Pillar; Tools/Automation, teaching you what I have learned over the past 25 years as an Affordability Manager and Cost Estimator. Now that Management Support is in place, a written Methodology has been published giving Affordability the legitimacy it needs, responsibilities delineated, and templates to follow, and both Management and Design IPT Members have been trained, it is time to focus on the tools, automation, and support personnel ...
In my first blog of this series I introduced you to the Four Pillars of the Affordability Process. They are: 1.       Management Support 2.       Methodology 3.       Training 4.       Tools/Automation In this fourth blog I will provide you with the benefit of my insight and years of experience by writing about the Third Pillar; Training. Once Management Support has been obtained (The Key) and a written Methodology (The Heart) published to breathe life into the process it’s time to train management and the members of Design Integrated Product Teams (IPT) in Affordability Methodology and its application at the program and IPT levels. Affordability training is best focused ...
In my first blog of this series I introduced you to the Four Pillars of the Affordability Process. They are: Management Support Methodology Training Tools/Automation In this third blog I will give you the benefit of my insight and experience by writing specifically about the Second Pillar; Methodology. In my experience it is a written Affordability Methodology that is the heart of the Affordability Process. The Methodology breathes life into the process and details the specific requirements to implement and make an Affordability effort successful. A written Affordability Methodology does ...
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 ...
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 ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 I was recently struck by Ash Carter’s (Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics) Memorandum for Acquisition Professionals, Better Buying Power: Guidance for Obtaining Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending (14 September 2010). Within this broad sweeping memo, Ash Carter outlines 23 principal actions in five major areas aimed at increasing efficiency in Defense acquisition.  The first major area covered is “Target Affordability and Control Cost Growth”. Within this major area, program managers must treat affordability as a requirement before milestone authority is granted to proceed (starting with Milestone A). This ...
Original Post Date: Friday, December 17, 2010 In last month’s blog I wrote about Ash Carter’s (Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics) Memorandum for Acquisition Professionals, Better Buying Power: Guidance for Obtaining Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending (14 September 2010). I concluded the TruePlanning unified framework and comprehensive cost models, is a tool very well suited to provide the types of analysis outlined in the memorandum. In terms of Should Cost and Independent Cost Estimates (ICE), TruePlanning estimation software provides the industry standard capability to conduct Should Cost and calibration (actual program history) for ICE. Most ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 A frequent question from students and consulting clients is how to estimate software size when either: detailed functional requirements descriptions are not yet documented or, even if the latter do exist, the resources necessary (in cost and time) for detailed function point (“FP”) counting are prohibitive. If appropriate analogies or detailed use cases are not available, fast function point counting can be a non-starter, without nominal understanding of pre-design software transactions and data functions.  Hence, the challenge is to find an estimating basis for functional measure (i.e., ...
Original Post Date: Monday, September 24, 2012 The purpose of this blog is to describe the role Value Engineering plays within the affordability process. The blog is not a step by step “How To Conduct or Execute” Value Engineering (VE) but, it is a discussion of the context, input, setup, execution hints, and output of Value Engineering in support of conducting affordability analysis and management. As such, it is important to understand the concept of affordability within the Systems Engineering paradigm. This blog is designed to provide insights, lessons learned, and suggestions for using Value Engineering in the affordability process. In ...
Original Post Date: Friday, September 14, 2011 Check out this article about the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and their cloud computing strategy.  With the DOD’s ever increasing focus on affordability moving eligible capabilities to the cloud is an excellent plan for the government.  DISAs strategy includes the consolidation of data centers and network operations centers and the migration of 1.4 million Army email accounts to the cloud.  Cloud computing allows organizations to utilize applications, platforms and hardware through the Internet (or some other network) rather than having to purchase or lease these items.  Cloud computing offers opportunities for cost ...
Original Post Date: Monday, August 1, 2011 After many years of working with systems engineers and design engineers it became apparent to me that the cost of the system they were designing / building mostly seemed to be an after thought. Maybe not by the Lead Systems Engineer or Program Manager but certainly down in the trenches. The engineers working at the subsystem, component, and element levels always expressed frustration with having too much to think about to add one more variable, such as cost estimation, to their work load. I posit that this can no longer be the case. In ...
Original Post Date: Friday, June 10, 2011 I’m on my way home from the ISPA/SCEA (International Society of Parametric Analysts, Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis) Conference held in Albuquerque this week.  Attendance was very good (2nd best in the conferences history) and as the content seemed especially good this week.  I attended lots of good talks on topics ranging from SEPM (System Engineering, Project Management) cost estimating, Joint Confidence Levels, Software Estimating, Affordability,  Agile software development and estimating for Enterprise Resource Planning Systems.   Of course, just because the topics are good and well presented doesn’t mean I have ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2011  Parametrics is more than estimating. It represents the complete process of capturing and utilizing (often with calibration) non-cost drivers, as well as associated programattics and configuration levels. The Wiki definition of systems engineering immediately speaks to project complexity, life cycle management, and logistics. Any question that parametrics and systems engineering are interrelated?  In many of our customer organizations, affordability and cost-benefit analyses have migrated to system engineering functions. How and where does your organization perform these analyses?  As we enhance our capabilities and applications, it’s beneficial for all concerned to understand your adaptation of parametrics within the core ...
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 ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Last week I gave a webinar which detailed the PRICE perspective on Should Cost & Will Cost Management. The responses I have received have been very positive and also informing. For those of you who could not attend you can view the recorded version of that webinar here. Below is a brief summation of that presentation and some key takeaways. The Under Secretary of Defense issued a memo late last year. The thrust of the memo was the current need for greater efficiency and productivity in defense spending. His guidance contained 23 principal actions for improving the ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, January 6, 2011 Today, PRICE Systems, Senior Research Analyst, Bob Koury, will be presenting on Will Cost/Should Cost management. The presentation will focus on two main requirements mandated in the Ash Carter memo (mentioned here several times): Developing Should Cost/Will Cost targets and establishing Affordability as a requirement.  An example will be provided of how parametric estimating models were used to establish “Should Cost” targets and how they can be used by a budget authority (government or Industry) to be an informed consumer of contractor or sub-contractor bids. The demonstration portion of this webinar will focus on ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, July 22, 2010 Recently the Director of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), Peter Orszag issued a directive that was posted on the OMB blog that outlined three specific actions for IT reform. The actions include a freeze on all new IT modernization task orders for financial systems, reviews of current high risk IT projects and require agencies to submit improvement plans to the CIO; thirdly, the OMB Deputy Director will develop recommendations within 120 days to improve the federal government’s overall IT procurement and management practices. Orszag states: “While a productivity boom has transformed private sector ...
Original Post Date: Friday, March 6, 2009 Barak Obama's 2010 U.S. Federal Budget proposal promises a "New Era of Responsibility", and in the introduction he says,  "...we must begin the process of making the tough choices necessary to restore fiscal discipline, cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office, and put our Nation on sound fiscal footing." Tough choices indeed. Therein lies the greatest challenge.  With the best intentions, our government tries to do good things, but always starts more projects than it can afford.  And often the expected "value" of an initiative is never fully vetted before a project is ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, August 6, 2008 Last week the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing entitled "Offline and Off-budget: The Dismal State of Information Technology Planning in the Federal Government".  The prepared remarks by those who testified before the committee make good reading.  You can find them here. The committee focused on the many IT projects that are overrunning cost and schedule, giving most Federal Agencies failing grades on their budget management report card.  My experience while working with Fortune 500 companies is that they do not do much better - we just do ...