• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management



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Your license has been updated to include TruePlanning 2016’s new IT Services catalog.  This capability is a significant upgrade to v14.2’s IT Infrastructure catalog.  In the past with the latter, representative of typical logistical equipment build-up philosophies, estimates were focused primarily on operations of existing/deployed IT enterprises.  Now, with IT Services, you can estimate IT deliverables as services, delivered with in-house and/or contracted resources.  This catalog was specifically designed to better align with the way organizations currently estimate and budget for IT services.  There are now 8x2 = 16 specific types of estimating capabilities, supporting both New Projects and ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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: 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 ...
As a Hybrid / Monolithic Microware Integrated Circuit (MMIC) designer back in the day, and then later on when I actually had to perform cost estimates for new Hybrids and MMICs, I sure wish I had a tool like TruePlanning Microcircuits at my disposal. This tool makes estimating the cost of both of these types of circuits a breeze. With just a little bit of data I can literally estimate the cost of one of these circuits in minutes! Actually gathering the data is definitely the harder part of the process. For a MMIC, all it really takes is ...
Welcome to PRICE TruePlanning® Microcircuits. Prior to the release of TruePlanning® Microcircuits, you have always been able to model / estimate the cost of electronic hardware at the assembly level down to the circuit card assembly (CCA) Level based on estimated weight and complexity inputs, but now, with TruePlanning® Microcircuits, you can model electronic modules down to the individual chip and component, to provide more detailed, accurate electronic assembly estimates.  TruePlanning® Microcircuits provides full support for estimating hybrid modules as well as monolithic integrated circuits (ICs). IC types include digital and analog circuits of all types, including ASICs and monolithic ...
Original Post Date: Friday, November 7, 2014 We’ve recently completed a case study using TruePlanning for Microcircuits to examine the cost impacts of using newer technologies.  Recently, radar T/R module designers have begun substituting Gallium Nitride (GaN) substrates in place of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) substrates in their designs.  GaN chips can handle significantly more power than GaAs chips, which enables significant performance benefits, while reducing the size/number of chips needed in each module.  But, are the newer GaN chips affordable? The IC fabrication process for GaAs circuits is very similar to GaN circuits.  There are, however, some important differences between these ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 The first time I remember hearing the term, “data driven estimating,” was at an ISPA/SCEA conference in Phoenix about 6 years ago. I thought I had a pretty good concept of what that meant. Then, I started hearing it more frequently about 6 to 9 months ago, and I wasn’t as sure of my understanding. So, I went to the Internet and Googled, “Data Driven Estimating.”  The first 3 pages yield links to statistical, engineering, and technical estimating founded on data; e.g. packet routing, data delivery rate, radar and rain gage data, ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 From my perspective as a cost researcher, the calibration tool is one of the most powerful analysis capabilities built into the TruePlanning cost management software . One way I can use this tool is to go back to an old estimate for a project that is now completed, and analyze the correctness of the previously entered input values. With this analysis, I can find ways to improve our methods of soliciting input values from the user to ensure the best values are entered the next time. This way, the TruePlanning models keep getting “smarter” as new information ...
Original Post Date: Friday, May 21, 2010 Last month I blogged about the importance of cost realism, its roots and how as estimators we must always reflect the truth, no matter how unpopular. This month I want to share with you a recent experience on a Source Selection. As part of the Source Selection team, my role was to conduct a Cost Realism estimate on each of the performers submitting bids. I want to share with you a few insights from that experience. One of the first rules I always follow is to never ask engineers to provide data that ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2010  I recently had the opportunity to work directly for one of our clients on a high visibility, must-win proposal. The contractor was just about ready to commit to the bid number, but wanted to know the likely bids of the other two performers. We were asked to do a “Ghosting the Competition” study where we ethically collect open source data on two competing designs and combined with engineering technical data to develop a best cost estimate of the competitor’s bid positions.   Unfortunately, not much intelligence was known about the competing configurations, but the ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 Next month (8/4 @ 12pm EST) I am presenting a webinar to discuss using TruePlanning on Source Selections. What prompted me to develop this webinar were the many recent success stories I’ve had using TruePlanning during the Source Selection process. Going a bit further, I am going to show an actual case study where TruePlanning was used to conduct an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) exercise – along with cost/effectiveness results. We will explore a bit about the technical side of the proposed designs, develop the modeling in TruePlanning and discuss the results. In addition, we will explore ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 I had expected to present my webinar,  “Best Practices for Cost Effectiveness Studies using TruePlanning” in early August. As you might know, I was planning to show a real world example from a recent engagement with a government customer. Unfortunately, since the Source Selection has not concluded with a downselect, I was not able to obtain the public release in time. However, for this month’s blog I will continue share some of the highlights of the webinar.   In last month’s blog we explored the uses of TruePlanning during Source Selection from the Supplier’s (or ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 When I glanced at the Washington Post on Sunday, the following headline screamed out: Defense cuts could slow D.C. economy for years The article basically covers how Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is calling for reducing spending on "support contractors" by 10 percent each of the next three years as the Defense budget shrinks. As Washington DC is a hub for these types of companies, the impact is expected to be significant. According to the article, more than a quarter of national defense spending contains of outlays for service contracts. Among the largest companies ...
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, June 23, 2010 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 value, above ...
Original Post Date: Friday, June 25, 2010  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 to automation—which then drives tooling ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, October 7, 2010 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 types asking plenty of questions… as long as they were of the Yes-No variety.  And ...
Original Post Date: Monday, December 6, 2010  In his August blog-entry here, Zach Jasnoff outlined typical client perspectives for the different types of analyses that TruePlanning can accommodate. Working on a large project, we’ve experienced situations that, realistically, can happen where the initial intent and model structuring later have the boundaries of model appropriateness stretched. An Analysis of Alternatives (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 Independent Cost Estimate ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, August 12, 2010 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 quality quantified. 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 too. But I’d suggest that “Parametrics is ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 Over the past several weeks several users have inquired about the best way to estimate costs associated with porting existing software to a new hardware environment. Normally for this situation some of the existing software will require some amount of adaptation to operate on a new server. However, a large portion of the existing software will only require integration into the new environment.   Estimating software costs associated with the above will require the use of several cost objects: - Systems cost object if program management, Quality Assurance, configuration, and    documentation costs are to be included in ...
Am I correct in understanding that in order to determine Payload PM, SE, MA [e.g., WBS 5.1, 5.2, 5.3], Payload I&T/GSE [e.g., WBS 5.5, 5.6], Spacecraft PM, SE, MA [e.g., WBS 6.1, 6.2, 6.3], and Spacecraft I&T/GSE [e.g., WBS 6.6] costs, each user must export TP results into an Excel spreadsheet, then apply their own factor to obtain the aforementioned WBS costs because TP lumps all of those costs into 1 PM bucket, 1 SE bucket, 1 MA bucket and 1 I&T bucket? And we have to do this every time we make a change to determine those costs? Gosh ...
From the presentation, it looked like the TP risk area included the capability for percent inputs around the point inputs rather than having to enter value? Yes, we’ve added Percent (as well as offset) to the FRISK input method to set pessimistic and optimistic values off the point values.  In the 1st example below I’ve used +20% and -10% respectively, around the Weight of Structure’s point’s value.  Per the 2nd example below, we can do likewise in our Monte Carlo companion applications, where our new custom logic satisfies NASA’s typical approach for mass growth-risk with Optimistic=CBE {i.e., your point value}, ...
Does any of the Space catalogs (objects) cover the launch vehicle and stage 1 & 2 engines?  Do the defaults cover manned space? Not, not soon at least.  HOWEVER, we and multiple NASA Centers have used the True-Hardware/Software catalogs for many years to estimate launch vehicles and manned vehicles.  Currently the Space Missions Catalog objects (i.e., estimating models) support robotic and unmanned missions.  But again, in the TruePlanning catalogs (HW, SW, Systems, etc), there has always been an Operating Specification choice for manned space per below— To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Will other recent programs be added (to basis/analysis/CERs)? Yes, typically within one year of launch. We don’t often need to make changes to the component estimates but we test them as new data comes in. The support functions get minor tweaks each time we add another data point. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Do you plan to add MAVEN any time soon? Just learned that yes, Maven will be added to the basis & analysis in the near future. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
In your webinar presentation-- Slide 21: NASA WBS mapping for the WBS 4.0 – this slide seems to indicate that this WBS is estimated by TP Slide 35: Space Systems Object – this slide seems to indicate that this WBS is estimated by TP Slide 48: Mapping Rules.. – this slide seems to indicate that this WBS is estimated by TP, but Notes column this very slide are contradicting this – by saying typically passed-thru what would be right approach; shall we have a pass-thru number for this WBS (4.0) or shall we assume that the TP estimate includes this WBS? Good catch!  ...
If you look at slide 68 of the presentation (Reference Mission Set Used in the Chicago Development Cost Model), it says that the data sets includes “actual costs for completed projects and projected costs for projects in development and near-term mission candidates”. Does this mean that historical actuals were used and there was no normalization of the data?  Does the actual costs include contractor fee and any subcontractor burdens or were those stripped out?  If contractor fees or burdens were removed, how do we go about adding that to the model estimate?  Is there an input parameter for that ...
It is not evident how WBS 10.0 which is not just integration of all systems together but also the integration with launch vehicle as well as other related launch operations is calculated without knowing the complexities of the mission.  Also, environmental I&T associated with observatory integration is in WBS 10.0. WBS 10 covers all S/C and System-level I&T that is not specific to an individual instrument or S/C subsystem. It includes Assembly & Integration, System Test, and Ground Support Equipment. Costs for the prototype/EM hardware used in flight system testbeds are covered within each applicable component estimate (represented by the ...
Why is there no assembly level object at the s/c top level.  All the subsystems within the s/c bus need to be assembled because all the s/c bus subsystems are very much intertwined together. So there has to be an assembly object at the top of the bus? Assembly I&T is performed by the Space Subsystem object.  Adding an additional Assembly object at the top of multiple subsystem-assembly pairings produces very high redundant costs.  However, the estimator can certainly perform organizational calibration and use worksheet set multipliers to adjust outputs at this top level if an overall assembly is added. ...
What about software? I never heard it mentioned. How does the space catalog address software? Actually, we did discuss software briefly.  Since flight software is included with each electronic item, some portion of an independently estimated software cost should be removed from the result.  The separate TruePlanning for Software catalog can be used to estimate development and COTS new/modified/reused/deleted code, sized via multiple approaches:  SLOC, function point, use cases as well as via a Functional Sizing calculator. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
What kinds of software costs would you say are not included in the calibrated cost to the particular space component? Flight software costs are included with each electronic component.  Ground software costs are included with MOS.  Ground data handling costs beyond the typical level used by most robotic space missions may not be adequately covered with the MOS factors. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Some space components had an asterisk (modeled outside of PRICE TruePlanning)?  What does that mean? There are some components that are not found on the Component Type drop down but rather are modeled with CERs outside of True H (Space Parachute for example).  These CERs are available via custom cost objects, per below, rather than the Space Component cost object. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Is there an EM and prototype calculator, or do you treat every type or prototoype (breadboard, brassboard, mass model, etc) as a full prototype? Fractional prototype quantities are acceptable.  Regarding a calculator-- good idea.  We will investigate feasibility. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Can you mix catalog objects from different catalogs into the same assembly? (ex. a microcircuit with a space component) The Space Catalog was designed to use only the components in that Catalog and some activities are different to other Catalogs.  When using a Space System cost object, a Space Sub-assembly and a Space Assembly, do not mix regular System, Assembly and Hardware Cost Objects in the same Space System.  If Regular System, Assembly and Hardware items are included as component of a Space System, the results will be different to using only Space Catalog components.  A Project may contain separate Space ...
On one of your slides you mention using Assembly at the subsystem level for HW to HW integration (I can see this for Payloads as those are usually stand alone),  however, for spacecrafts a lot of subsystems aren't integrated as a stand alone, are you overstating possible costs by doing at each subsystem vs. a spacecraft level assembly which would encompass the integration of all the subsystems at the spacecraft level? A bus (or payload) can have just one subsystem-assembly pairing, with all components listed below, rather than multiple subsystems (or instruments) each with multiple separate pairings.  In general, note that the ...
You mentioned using production qty vs. prototype, even with the Space Mission Objects, however typically Spacecrafts are very low qty and my experience from heavy PRICE H use is that the production qty uses a much steeper slope. Is it now more realistic with the industry data in the space objects that production qty is good to use now? Yes, that is our recommendation.  We have seen production first units higher in cost than prototypes.  We recommend using the latter for engineering models and test units. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
Do you have capability to do CONOPS which drive the design? Good idea!  As demonstrated, we allow the user to model complexity (or any other input) as a function of requirements, specifications, etc which could include a CONOPS value as well.  Also, another companion application is our linkage to the design-trade tools ModelCenter and i-Sight. To watch the "Best Practices using the TruePlanning Space Missions" Webinar, click here.
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.
We’re often asked about how to model the cost impacts of various quality assurance standards like SEI Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and CMM-I for software, DO-178c and DO-254 for airborne software and electronics, various MilSpecs, and even process standards like ISO-9000.  As a result, we’re kicking off a study to create new and updated modeling guidance for use with our cost models. Many of these standards have significant overlap, and an implementation of one can give you a head start in implementing another.  For example, DO-178c and DO-254 are design assurance standards, which basically says that if you follow these ...
Original Post Date: Monday, August 18, 2014 I had the distinct pleasure last week of attending the 2014 NASA Cost Symposium.  While to the uninitiated this might sound like a bit of a snoozer – it was actually quite interesting and proved to be the source of a ton of valuable information.  The event took place at Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA – near Williamsburg, Newport News, and not too far from Virginia Beach.  My participation was somewhat self-serving in that I was there to talk about PRICE’s new Space Missions Cost Models for TruePlanning®.  This model – discussed ...