What We Do: Scheduling

Posted on September 23, 2016
Posted in: 2016, News

You have decided to design and build your dream house!  You’ve come up with the scope of the work, created a set of blueprints, estimated the cost and created a budget, and quantified the benefits both in equity and return on investment and on the value in your life.  How do you plan the build, track the inevitable changes, and manage the impact to the budget?  With a regularly updated schedule!

To create your project schedule, you assess the work that needs to be done and break down the tasks in order to coordinate the supply orders, the hiring of workers and trades, and scheduling the work sequence so that the electric is completed before the walls are painted.  This schedule becomes one of your most powerful tools to successfully build your house because you use it to manage and track the impact of changes to costs, delayed resources, and unexpected overruns.

Schedules are powerful planning, tracking, and reporting tools and Cobec works to develop and deploy schedule products that support our clients throughout the project or program life cycle.

What We Do: Scheduling
At Cobec, we specialize in Critical Path Method (CPM) scheduling for our clients.  By building a schedule using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and establishing the project critical path – or the longest path from project start to project completion – the scheduling team establishes the Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB) allowing the scheduling team and project stakeholders to evaluate project performance against the baseline plan.

Once the project begins, tasks, costs, and resource status are updated to reflect current actual work progress.  Using the status updates – and accounting for the impact of changes – the scheduling team reports to project stakeholders allowing active management of deliverables and performance evaluation against the PMB.

Cobec Scheduling Practices
Managing the schedule effectively means using performance metrics and data to track progress with reports. We ensures the client has a reliable resource to identify risks and enable informed and timely action. These project performance documents can also provide valuable insight and best practices for future projects.

By using industry best practices to model and execute a program’s scope, cost, and timelines we create a predictable and repeatable model which incorporates standards to ensure compliance with client guidelines.  Cobec builds our schedules on standard schedule templates utilizing Critical Path Methodologies to ensure compliance to GAO Scheduling Best Practices as well as DCMA 14 Point Assessment guidelines.

Cobec uses various scheduling tools, such as all versions of Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project, to ensure we are compatible and compliant with client systems and methodologies. To support schedule best practice analysis and risk management assessments, Cobec utilizes Steelray project analyzer, Oracle Risk / Pertmaster, @Risk, and P6 Web “Check Schedule” functionality to perform schedule audits and Monte Carlo analysis.  Using these tools, we advise clients regularly on risk exposure, impact analysis for what-if scenarios, and development of milestones during the decision checkpoints.

Project and Portfolio Analytics
Cobec utilizes both internal schedule tools as well as custom developed tools to provide stakeholders tailored views of the project allowing effective decision making.
These tools include schedule generated tabular deployment “Waterfall” schedules, program performance metrics, resource loading analysis, and many more.

How We Can Help
Cobec can engage at any time during the Acquisition Management Lifecycle for FAA clients, augmenting your existing scheduling or project controls team, or performing an assessment to help gauge performance and readiness for any upcoming checkpoints where schedule artifacts are required.
Cobec can also pilot schedule management practices for a project, program, or portfolio to explore if a Cobec solution is a fit and would be suitable for a full deployment to your organization or agency.

Cobec Advantage
At Cobec Consulting, our scheduling team can reliably support your program with our seasoned team of schedulers experienced in expertly applying scheduling methods and practices through the life of a project or program to support successful execution of milestones and decisions.


Role of Contract Pricing in Cost Estimating

Posted on September 14, 2016
Posted in: 2016, News

The basics of contract pricing are important to understand when considering the role of cost estimating in the acquisition planning process. At the 2016 International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association (ICEAA) Professional Development & Training Workshop, Sriram Krishnan, in collaboration with Derreck Ross of Technomics, presented a ‘Contract Pricing‘ training session in the Cost Estimating Basics Training Track. Topics covered in the training included:

  • the various contract types,
  • the factors and considerations related to choosing a contract type,
  • how fee is calculated,
  • how risk is shared between the government and the vendor,
  • Uniform Contract Structure and its sections, and
  • cost-price proposal preparation and evaluation efforts.

The contract pricing process guides the government from the determination of requirements through the contract award of a system solution of those requirements.

The primary elements of contract pricing are:

  • Determining the best applicable contract vehicle
  • Creating the Cost/Pricing Proposal  (Contractor)
  • Performing the Cost/Price Comparative Analysis

The full presentation is available here.

Sriram Krishnan has been providing valuable analysis and support to government and commercial clients for over 13 years, to varied clients from Missile Defense, and OSD, Department of Education.  Since 2009, Sriram has served as a Lead Consultant at Cobec Consulting, providing cost estimating and source selection support to Federal Aviation Administration NextGen programs.  He holds an MBA from Georgia Tech and a B.S. from Brown University.


“Agile and Function Points: A Winning Combination” by Daniel French

Posted on September 01, 2016
Posted in: 2016, News

Dan FrenchThe AGILE software development methodology is increasingly being adopted by Information Technology (IT) organizations in an effort to improve software delivery schedules, quality and reduced development costs.  Cobec Consulting is supporting our clients as they address the challenges associated with incorporating the proper adoption AGILE into their enterprises.
A key aspect of this challenge is false belief of many AGILE users that AGILE projects do not need to adhere to proper project management practices, in particular, proper project estimating.   However, the AGILE Alliance doesn’t advocate getting rid of software metrics, schedule or proper project management practices.  In fact, for software development projects, the most critical cost driver is software size.  Typically, AGILE projects are sized using subjective, non-standardized size metrics such as Story Points.

As there are no standards nor comparable industry data for Story Points and other AGILE sizing metrics and that these sizing methods are completely subjective, there is a need for a reliable, standard sizing metric.   Otherwise, it is difficult, especially for organizations new to AGILE, to properly size product backlog, sprints and develop velocity rates, all of which are critical to successful AGILE implementation.

Mr. French, in his presentation “Agile and Function Points: A Winning Combination” advocates the use of the International Function Point User Group (IFPUG) Function Point (FP) as a standardize, rule-based, ISO-certified sizing metric that can be effectively used with AGILE development.   His presentation at the 2016 International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association (ICEAA) Professional Development & Training Workshop demonstrates the benefits of using Function Points in conjunction with many aspects of project management including estimation, schedule and product backlog.