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 engineers recently noticed the other companies displaying their latest technology at a tradeshow event. Based on that information, plus some published marketing data, the engineers arrived at reasonable technology configurations and weight statements. We also established a cost baseline for the client by calibrating past data and using the client’s direct rates and overheads.  Using the TruePlanning estimation software we were able to complete all of the cost estimates in about ten hours including detailed reporting down to the resource and activity level.


Once we were done and happy with the results we were asked to brief the company President. Taking one glance at our estimates, he remarked that what he really needed was an Independent Cost Estimate or ICE in addition to our Ghosting study. The purpose of the ICE was to determine if they were really offering the best value possible to the government…and not just the lowest bid. He requested the ICE within four hours. This caused great concern for the engineers and finance as they had never done an ICE in this short amount of time.

However, using the same cost estimating tools and models (TruePlanning) we built for the Ghosting the Competition study, we were able to quickly and easily generate the ICE in less than four hours. This was done by removing the calibrated inputs for manufacturing and electronics complexity and replacing them with values from the PRICE knowledgebase. We also reverted back to the industry average rates contained in the worksheet sets.


Finally, we completed a producibility study on process improvement using the Manufacturing Process Index input. Using TruePlanning we quickly generated all of the reporting formats at the activity/resource level and export the results to EXCEL, WORD and Powerpoint.


The bottom line was that the versatility of the TruePlanning tool allowed the client to quickly and efficiently develop several types of analysis required for a must-win proposal with minimal impact on staff and in a very short amount of time.

Zach Jasnoff
Solutions Architect, PRICE Systems