• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management



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Are you able to triangulate bounds on inputs, low -high-average, to get nominal values? Yes, the risk tools above all allow for triangular distributions.  Specifically in FRISK, the “Auto” selection (from the Method drop-down in the Risk Input Sheet) will generate pessimistic and optimistic values around the point estimate’s baseline.  Or the inputs can be manually input. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Do the cost models include SEER, USCM, OGC, NAFCOM, ACEIT? Per our discussion, ACEIT is an export option from TruePlanning.  And we are evaluating the feasibility of hosting PCEC (fka NAFCOM) as a custom catalog, available to NASA users. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Spares may be a contract deliverable? Yes.  Quantities include flight units, spares and prototypes for Ems/proof-of-concept builds. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Can cost estimates be “simulated” using Monte Carlo (or alike) to model probabilistically based costing? Monte Carlo simulation is via Crystal Ball and @Risk. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
How is cost uncertainty integrated into cost basis and subsequent roll-up into subsystems, etc? Complexities are density functions that act as surrogates for combinations of CERs.  Hence, overall model prediction error is reflected by the impact of complexity uncertainty on overall risk at subsystem and system levels. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Can you provide additional information regarding the missions used for the basis of the Space Mission Catalog? Table 1 - Scope of Historical Data Table 2 - Planetary Missions in the Database Table 3 - Astrophysics Missions in the Database Table 4 - Earth Science Missions in Database To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Can you provide a pointer to additional information regarding the ChiCoMo Model? Here’s an earlier webinar by our Chief Scientist: http://www.pricesystems.com/Resources/Videos/tabid/487/VideoId/23/language/en-US/Default.aspx To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 In my "Work Breakdown Structures are Workable!" blog, we reviewed the subtleties of using the [object] tag to your advantage in creating different sorts and roll up subtotals. As a followup, I’d like to drill down a bit on the initial step of using the “copy grid” exports. Each row number is unique, thus creating an identifying key for the vlookup function in Excel. Since all object X activity instances are allocated 100% to one of the three phases (with very rare exception), these row keys allow you to sort and re-group ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 True Planning results have many options, including viewing Costs by Activity. While simple, this view can be quite powerful, especially when exported for re-organization manipulation. In a recent exercise, the WBS mapping of common objects, estimated by separate multiple scenarios, presented a non-trivial chore in Excel. “Transposition” features work fine for matrices, as do pivot tables. But how does one map object by activity grids into activity lists, similar to MIL-STD 881a, with singular “roll up” instances of all nonzero object costs? The secret is in how True Planning appends each activity output with the ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 The late Norm Crosby’s “Quality is Free” taught us that an investment into quality is more than offset by prevention of defects based upon understanding of requirements. Only with the latter can lack of conformance (and subsequent costs) be captured and hence quantified towards quality. So how then is Parametrics relevant? Parametric estimating is more than cost modeling. Our craft represents an initial consulting function into the accuracy and completeness of program planning concepts. Our customers trust us to know when to ask and when to supplement. Yes, we are mathematical and financial modelers ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 In his August 2010 blog-entry, Zac Jasnoff outlined typical client perspectives for the different types of analyses that True Planning can accommodate.  Working on a large project, we’ve experienced situations that, realistically, can happen where the initial intent... and model structuring… later has the boundaries of model appropriateness stretched.  An AoA, for example, is meant to measure deltas between baseline and its alternatives.  If common costs “wash” then they can be excluded… which becomes an issue when treated as a Rough Order Magnitude for customer budgeting. Likewise, if a ROM or ICE of ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 I’m not a golfer. But we’ve all heard one say “that’s why I play” after hitting a shot and feeling like it all came together. What “it” is, in terms of mechanics and timing, I’m not really sure. In our own world of parametrics, it’s the feeling of adding value in that golden moment of facilitating decisions and forward momentum. We wear many hats: estimating, consulting, systems engineering...even cost accounting. Building an AoA, ICE or ROM is where rubber-meets-the-road in regards to configurations and assumptions. Not too long ago I was in a discussion with ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 In Parametrics is Free, I acknowledged receiving (too late) “you should’ve known to ask that” over the years. Quality control after-the-fact is fine; but it’s better and cheaper to take a systematic approach to quality assurance as part of your estimating process. The sheer volume of what we model can often keep us so close to the details that we are unable to step back and put on our QA hat on for a sanity check. Enter Quality! On a very large project, our team has introduced a few regular cross-checks, notwithstanding typical ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 Like titanium and other exotic metal-materials, “composites” (by definition, combinations of materials) offer significant weight-savings and reduced part counts, but at a price of high production cost. Sound contrarian to our parametric cost estimating view? Not really. Complexity of manufacture is quite higher. Likewise process index and structural tooling values grow. Plus, design lead times drive developmental cycles. That said, understand that composites represent more than a material type. They can involve a highly labor-intensive approach to preparing, braiding/ winding, molding, bonding and modular assemblage. Yes, some aspects of braiding and molding lend themselves ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 Parametric modeling is excellent for all aspects of early-concept cost estimation, including go/no-go decisions downstream. So, in the spirit of bringing a transparency to (ethical) financial engineering… why not apply our craft to pricing “real-options”? The latter are essentially strategic opportunities for engaging resources (cost/schedule) into projects, ventures, investments, or even abandonments. The opportunity choice has value itself! Unlike static project Net Present Value (often, but not exclusively, approximated with Discounted Cash Flow) assuming pre-defined decisions, real-options reflect the merit of flexibility. If an R&D or proof-of-concept presents viability/marketability learning, the option has positive ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 Ahhhh, the 80s… a challenging (but often confusing) time in an evolving computing world. Working in 1985 as a software estimator as well as SQA engineer in a quality assurance department that “audited” real-time projects using new concepts like OOD & OOP… well, you get the picture. It was a great time to get immersed into great work. And the good news: that company’s process as well as its developers were bullish on a young estimation/ quality type asking plenty of questions… as long as they were of the Yes-No variety. And ask ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 2013 ...wear the worst shoes. The cobbler was a master at his craft; he was just too tired to practice it when he got home from the shop. Sound familiar? A disciplined approach to understanding (functional) requirements as well as analogous projects (with actuals) is our not-so-secret sauce. Why run the risk of creeping back up our career learning curve? There’s already enough scope creep to keep us busy. Plus, for you management types charged with prospecting, a consistent approach towards estimation is a great way to connect with people who've felt the pain of ...
Original Post Date: Friday, October 4, 201 My "Real Options Valuation" blog suggested the use of parametrics in real options valuation. 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, ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 A current consulting client has expressed interest in modeling scheduled overhauls, above and beyond scheduled maintenance. The latter is well-addressed by TruePlanning. Our challenge is to utilize the model and its calculated lifecycle metrics to estimate the former as well. We have recently developed an approach to address this specific need that I’d like to share with you here. Terminology is important to level-set.  Notwithstanding replacement procurement, restoring equipment readiness via operations & maintenance activities usually falls into one of three funded categories[1]:  Inspection/ Repair at the organizational and/or direct support ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 As promised in my last blog (“System and Assembly Objects in the context of Hardware AoAs”), the integration of Software COTS is a subtly different challenge.  Customers are typically presented with two scenarios:  integration within a single system and integration within a system of systems (“SoS”).  Both cases are handled well by TruePlanning™ with specific parameter choices that control multiple activities relevant to software integration.  As I’ve come to appreciate PRICE’s competitive advantage with our Framework’s approach to the latter SoS case, I thought describing these two scenarios would help allow you to ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 During a recent Analysis of Alternatives (“AoA”) consulting project, our customer asked that we provide more insight into TruePlanning’s System and Assembly objects, which in our AoA context we termed Systems Engineering/ Program Management (SE/PM) and Alternative Integration/ Test, respectively. The customer’s challenge was understanding our parametric model’s treatment of principally hardware-COTS objects, combined with other cost, purchased service and training objects.Our Chief Scientist, Arlene Minkiewicz, provided us with insights that I’d like to share with you, as well as my views on how we at PRICE systems have consistently used these parent ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 With Customize View, TruePlanning™ offers great flexibility in editing favorites as row by column grids.  Typical examples are Object by Activity, Object by Resource and Activity by Resource.  But what if you wanted to view any of these grids also by year?  In other words, how can we add a third dimension?  Last October, in my “Work Breakdown Structures are Workable!” blog, we discussed the use of Excel’s Data-Sort and Data-Group options to build up a WBS, for a MIL-STD 881 style view of Activity by Object as a linear list.  Results were singular ...
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: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 Electronics Complexity and Quality Levels…   The PRICE Calculator for Electronics Manufacturing Complexity, shown below, has a subtle but very powerful feature for Quality Adjustment, based on Mil-Hdbk-217E Quality Levels.    The above shows “None” which yields the standard MCPLXE, in this case a 8.07 value applying 100% Large Scale Integrated Circuits for Display (with CRT) equipment as an example. Yet, in the course of estimating a mission-critical automatic tester  with multiple controller-card assemblies for an airborne-military platform, I adjusted for more stringent quality levels—specifically “S-1” level consistent with Mil-Std-975/ Mil-Std-1547 per below.   Note that ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 While teaching an introductory TruePlanning for Software Estimating course this week at an Army location, I was asked to follow up with a clarification on “percent adapted” calculation.  The official PRICE training materials definitions are:   • Percent of Design Adapted - the percentage of the existing (adapted code) design that must change to enable the adapted code to function and meet the software project requirements;   • Percent of Code Adapted - the percentage of the adapted code that must change to enable the adapted code to function and meet the software project requirements.   The former, Design, ...
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 ...