Recently, I was contacted by an Air Force estimator with a novel challenge.  The estimator’s product breakdown structure modeled the development and production of various hardware items over several years.  TruePlanning can easily assist in spreading production quantities or tracking “ship sets” of items required for a weapon system.  In this case, the user wished to have different quantities for different items.  Typically, we use a System cost object or the System Folder to spread production, which is then attributed to all components within the estimate.  Coming up with multiple production schedules within the same estimate presented a challenge.

In the product breakdown structure above, we are easily able to spread the 400 production units across four years.  This can be done either at the System Folder or System Cost Object.  But, what if we only need 300 of the Hardware COTS components spread over three years?  We need the COTS cost object to be underneath a parent System Cost Object so we can generate the appropriate amount SE/PM and Data effort. 

This case calls for a unique, but relatively straightforward, solution call “System of Systems.”  As you can see below, each section of the estimate with different quantities and spreads can have its own System Cost Object.  The solution allows the user to customize production quantities while still generating roughly the same amount for the overall project.  In the user’s estimate, overall cost changed 0.4% due to the additional System Cost Object…a miniscule impact for allowing a much more accurate forecast over the life of the program!