Can You Really Trust Your Project Plan to Tell You the Truth, Even If You’re Already Knee-Deep in the Project?

June 13, 2014 · Filed Under Project Management, Risk · Comment 

Find Renewed Confidence In Your Project by Implementing the Best Project Estimation Software

So you dove head first into a new project that seemed to be an excellent next step for your business. You and your team had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the project at the start, but just a basic idea of your production costs, labor, materials, tooling, set-up, and rework numbers. Now that you are knee-deep in the project, your team and the stakeholders’ enthusiasm for the project is rapidly waning because you are not hitting the numbers you expected, and unanticipated problems seem to be cropping up left and right.

best project estimation software

What to do? Perhaps the answer is a new project estimation system. But even when you identify the best project estimation software for your industry, can you depend on its output to give you feedback that’s valid?
The answer is yes, the best project estimation software will give you honest and thorough answers about your project. You might be at a point of panic because you know you’re already months into a project, or you might still be just considering the feasibility of the project, two different emotional states that the software is immune to – all it knows to do is weigh inputs and history, and report back impartially.

Here are four big reasons why now is a good time to consider employing project planning software:
1. It Helps You Build a Complete Picture of the Project

The best project estimation software available allows you to build an entire manufacturing project plan from templates, or from scratch. Its user-friendly interface allows for quick and easy entry of information regarding every single detail of the project, including progress already made, if applicable. It asks intuitive questions to help you consider possible alternative materials, tooling, manpower, and more to plan for the best possible outcomes.

 

2. It Serves as Your Virtual Expert

A built-in and constantly updated library of industry-specific knowledge will help you anticipate more potential stumbling blocks that could come your way, which will help you to plan accordingly for continued successful progress. Sector-specific models derived from extensive project histories, behavioral models, and metrics give you the opportunity to make unlimited hypothetical trade-offs to analyze endless scenarios in order to pinpoint the best plan of action to ensure good outcomes for the project. Pop-up windows ask intuitive questions to guide you through the process of defining the project’s scope, complexity, and technologies. Software at this level should pose questions that may bring topics, options, or potential problems to light that your team never even considered.

 

3. Its Cost Analysis Capabilities Makes Budgeting a Breeze

Top-notch project estimation software takes into consideration costs already incurred, and runs it against the project’s full budget. It can quickly and accurately generate labor and machine cost rates for use in determining facilities costs on a global scale. It contains a regularly updated, comprehensive database which includes worldwide labor cost data, default technology costs, average costs for many regions (including low-cost centers), default labor costs, and regional currencies to make your budgeting tasks so much easier. The best project estimation software on the market right now makes it easy to produce accurate figures and estimates, and to actually meet those numbers with a solid management plan.

 

4. It Offers a Variety of Reporting Options

Customizable charts, graphs, and reports allow you to visually present project outcomes and alternatives, as well as work-in-progress. Analyzing these reports can help you identify weak points in your current manufacturing systems and assets, and determine better alternatives to improve quality and output. You may run numerous simulations and generate reports for each scenario to compare outcomes and decide on the best assets and systems for your project. The effects of your improvements will be evident when you compare reports from before and after the change over to new planning software. Your new project estimation software should also allow users to export all of this information to other software programs for even wider reporting capabilities.
To tell you the truth about a project’s status or feasibility, regardless of what stage of the project you are in, the best project estimation software combines traditional project estimating software and cost estimating software solutions into one seamless package. Learning the truth about your project may sting a little, but in the end, you need to know all of your viable options – and you want to give your stakeholders the best, most accurate information possible. The best project estimation software can tell you the optimal way to complete the project, or whether the project should be scrapped.

 

Want to get a live demo of what our clients say is the best project estimation software they’ve ever used? Click here or call 310-414-3222 in the U.S. or +44 (0) 207 788 9042 internationally.

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




Managing and Eliminating Estimation Bias

thinking manI have been studying the art and science of estimating for many decades now.  Some of the observations I have made include:

  1. Most people don’t like to estimate
  2. Most people don’t know how to estimate
  3. Those that estimate are almost always wildly optimistic
  4. Viable estimates can make projects successful, outsourcing more cost effective, and help businesses make the most informed decisions

That is why models like SEER are essential to organizations, providing the tempering with that outside view of reality that is recommended by Daniel Kahneman.  Dr. Kehnaman received a Nobel prize for his work in estimation bias and strategic mis-estimation.   This briefing covering estimation bias reviews some of the work of Dr. Kehnaman and others in helping stomp out bad estimates.  I believe this is scheduled to be a webinar in the near future.  Stand by.  Here is the presentation: Managing and Reducing Estimation Bias and Strategic Estimation

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




How to Shun Public Mortification by Setting Realistic Project Expectations

May 15, 2014 · Filed Under Estimating, Project Management, Risk · Comment 
Dollarphotoclub_58650737

The key is to set realistic expectations.

Use these tips to avoid project estimation disasters.

Grossly over-budget. Famously broken. Publicly acclaimed as sketchy. Most certainly this is not how any sane software developer, project manager, or estimator wants their next project to be classified. In the face of sky-high hopes, tremendous political pressure, and a nation waiting to see how the pieces all fall into place, perhaps one of the first ways many projects veer off-track is in a failure to assess and set realistic expectations.

Whether you’ll report to an internal client, a buyer you’ve hotly pursued, or even an entire nation, learning to manage expectations in advance is a critical skill that can preserve a delicate relationship.

Here are 7 tips to help you provide confident assurance that your customer or stakeholders’ needs will be met.

1.    Know your limits, or risk overstepping them.
What is your bandwidth? How much time can you allot to the project with your existing resources? What stream of preexisting obligations, snags, and demands might overflow the banks and flood this new project before it even starts?

2.    Balance promises with reality.
While the adage “under-promise and over-deliver” has its share of pitfalls in that doing so in the extreme guarantees your competitor will win the project by being on-target with promises and delivery, it is still better than its opposite, where you make lavish promises and paltry deliveries.

3.    Disclose limits beforehand to prevent trouble escalation.
Most project obstacles rear their heads with some measure of predictability. The sound of the train precedes its arrival with at least a bit of warning. Rather than pretending the path ahead is irreversibly smooth, be upfront with your end customer about potential pitfalls before the project begins. This helps you avoid wasting time in damage-control mode later when one of these blockades pops up.

4.    Allow for wiggle room.
When possible in your negotiations, adopt the time urgency of your customer while also demonstrating your understanding of the need for the project to be done right. The phrase “Done Fast, Done Cheap, Done Right… Choose Two” is simplistic but true. In most projects, one of these goals must be sacrificed in order to deliver the other two. Disappointment can be avoided when time, budget, and quality realities are transparent from the start.

5.    Keep the lines open.
Sometimes a project reaches a fork in the road with no clear indicator of which way to turn. Uncertainty can freeze progress in its tracks, and can be made worse when there’s a sense the team “should have known” the answer to the perplexing dilemma and rather than coming clean with it to the customer, they send a hurried scout down each path to see which way to go. Don’t allow uncertainty to cause your project to come to a grinding halt. Before the project begins, explore various “what-ifs”, alternatives and trade-offs – this will keep forward momentum safe and ease potential constriction of communication lines.

6.    In the loop is always preferable to in the dark.
It’s a sure bet your customer has someone breathing down their collective necks as impatiently as a first-grader on a long car drive. “Are we there YET?” is the constant refrain, and it needs to be answered with a credible answer to avoid small-scale rioting. If the timeline morphs mid-project, prompt and honest communication is the best policy. Agreeing to making this sort of update if needed affords your customers the intel needed to manage expectations and communicate intelligently.

7.    Present projections backed by history.
Every project you undertake is both unique and yet based on precedent. Ideally, your organization documents processes, timelines, and the progression of projects. This enables you to learn from history, to plan well for new opportunities, and to more firmly tether promises made by the sales department with the realities of operations. The documentation process yields information that can be aggregated into a sort of internal knowledge base that can be used to create and sanity-check estimates for future projects.

While humans are naturally wired to be optimistic, the hope that everything will go as planned must often be tempered with caution – especially when setting expectations with stakeholders. With realistic expectations in place from the start, before any promises are made, the likelihood of thrilling your customers is much higher – and the risk of a crash and burn disaster in the public eye shrinks.

Aggregating historical project data to create realistic expectations bears its own set of challenges, especially in the absence of access to directly-relevant prior history. SEER project estimation software features continually updated industry-specific knowledge bases which allow users to glean reliable insights from other projects as they plan for their own.

For more information on how project estimation software could be your secret weapon, download our whitepaper “On Time, On Schedule, and a Huge Success”.

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




SEER Composites Brings Cost To Designers Using CATIA

March 20, 2014 · Filed Under Design for Manufacturing Estimating, Estimating, General · Comment 

Galorath and Dassault Systems showed the opportunities to reduce cost and make the best design decisions via the integration of SEER and CATIA (Dassault’s widely used CAD System) at the Paris  JEC show.  Visitors were excited by the ability to view a composites part within CATIA and with a few clicks get an analysis of the costs of the alternate. This allows designers to make the most cost effective decisions and makes cost an engineering variable.   A story of this solutions was discussed on several engineering web sites such as engineering.com.  Dassuult’s CEO

Philippe Laufer CEO of CATIA also says:

 “This [the SEER Composites integration] leads to finding out the most efficient way of manufacturing a product while meeting cost, performance, functionality, and appearance requirements.”

 

 

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




Removing Estimation Bias: ICEAA Keynote March 2014

March 18, 2014 · Filed Under Conferences, Estimating, General · Comment 

Estimation is challenging.  And humans appear to be hardwired to be optimists.  THis briefing covers some of the work in removing estimate bias and strategic misrepresentation. Additionally it illustrates some of the ways SEER models and models in general can help.  ICEAA Removing Estimation Bias.  Key points include:

Experts are likely providing biased estimates

Poor estimates are a root cause of project failure

Estimates can be better, squelching bias & strategic misestimation… Parametrics help.

 

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




Galorath / Dassault Advance the State of the Practice on Composites

March 4, 2014 · Filed Under Design for Manufacturing Estimating, Estimating, General · Comment 

Source: CompositesWorld

Galorath Inc. (Los Angeles, Calif., USA) reported on Feb. 25 that it has reached an agreement with Dassault Systèmes to integrate Galorath’s SEER for Manufacturing cost-estimating software with Dassault’s CATIA product design software. Galorath says the inclusion of SEER’s Cost Estimator in CATIA will allow manufacturers to initially model and test composite manufacturing processes and tradeoffs during the earliest and most preliminary stages of design.

catia to seer

Galorath’s SEER software has been assisting large-scale project estimation and planning for 25 years. Galorath says a key feature of SEER is that it is based on parametric modeling and incorporates industry data and best practices. Using analysis and simulation, SEER helps companies estimate and control project costs, risks, quality and duration.

“We know that many of our SEER for Manufacturing users, particularly in aerospace, use both CATIA and SEER,” says Dan Galorath, CEO of Galorath Inc. “With the creation of SEER’s Cost Estimator in CATIA, designers will be able to get a detailed cost estimate of a composite design. As the design changes shape, size, or materials, new estimates can be quickly rerun to understand the cost impact of those changes. Not only does it reduce duplicate effort of re-entering data into cost models, users will know in advance what it will cost to produce that part.”

“Dassault Systemes 3D EXPERIENCE platform connects data and people. Offering Galorath’s unparalleled, cost-estimating capabilities within CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE Composites processes helps users effectively predict the cost of composite use in product manufacturing and is another demonstration of the power of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform,” says Philippe Laufer, CEO CATIA, Dassault Systemes. “Using Galorath’s SEER for Manufacturing within CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE processes will help companies perform early trade-off analysis on the use of various materials and composites processes before manufacturing even takes place. This leads to finding out the most efficient way of manufacturing a product while meeting cost, performance, functionality and appearance requirements,” added Laufer.

This interface is being delivered initially for CATIA V5 and will allow users to create and save multiple estimate scenarios for each part to compare and trade options. It includes fully customizable knowledge base templates and rules to create detail composite part cost estimates for labor, material and tooling costs.

http://www.compositesworld.com/news/galorath-cost-estimating-software-integrated-into-dassault-systmes-platform

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




Introduction To Software Productivity Causes, Effects and Measurement

February 13, 2014 · Filed Under General, Software Estimating · Comment 

I did the attached briefing on Introduction to software productivity some time ago and forgot about it. And while talking to Capers Jones today about productivity I found it and thought it was pretty good.

It talks about different productivity measures and how to get one that is consistent. In fact I believe the four main criteria are

  • consistent
  • repeatable
  • auditable
  • available

It cautions ” Quantifying Productivity is useful for comparison and estimate sanity checks but steps should be taken to ensure consistency”

 

Also, productivity, software estimation, and software measurement are discussed as follow:

Productivity: how to measure productivity, what to do with it, the pitfalls of productivity management, lessons learned and best practices.

Software Estimation: Making software estimation work for internal, external, fixed price and other acquisition scenarios as well as software estimation lessons learned and best practices

Software Measurement and actions based on software measurement: Including what to measure and how to apply measurement to more successful software projects.  Industry experience and best practices will be covered.

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




Dan’s Affordability Keynote at the SCAF Conference

It was interesting giving a talk on affordability to this group in London.  While the UK has affordability as a goal (in fact the conference theme was affordability) they look at it a bit differently.  It was interesting talking about price versus cost and the UK prospective.

Another thing that was interesting is the prospective that for IT systems software development is more like 6 to 10 percent of the total ownership cost.  But it is the bulk of the risk.

And I got out just before the tube strike began in earnest.  The next day I had to walk 7 miles from Paddington to get to a meeting.  The Bakerloo like was completely shut down, there was a 200 meter line for taxis and the buses were impossible to get on due to the masses of people.  I would love to see a cost analysis of this event.  The saddest part is, from what I understand, the strike was due to obsolete jobs being eliminated... But the people were not eliminated, just retrained.  Go figure?

Here are my slides: Affordability Analysis: The role of process, cost and ROI modeling in improved program management and performance.

Thank you for reading "Dan on Estimating", if you would like more information about Galorath's estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




Learning from healthcare.gov Challenges Webinar

December 6, 2013 · Filed Under General, Software Estimating · Comment 

Galorath Incorporated and CAST Software bring you a webinar….   This is not the typical finger pointing but summarizing the IT challenges and looking at what we can learn from them.

Join us for an expert examination of HealthCare.gov from Dan Galorath (Galorath Inc.), Lev Lesokhin (CAST), and Lee Fischman (Galorath Inc.).

Galorath and CAST each study and assist organizations to achieve more success in their software and IT systems.  Each examined HealthCare.gov’s troubled launch and its implications for the IT industry.  Galorath’s findings are summarized in Understanding HealthCare.gov’s Rocky Rollout“.  CAST’s Lev Lesokhin has discussed HealthCare.gov’s issues with the CBS Evening News, Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets.  

In this webinar we will reveal  more of what we’ve learned including the following:

1.   Findings described in “Understanding HealthCare.gov’s Rocky Rollout“.  What led to the conclusions behind some of its 13 points?

2.   Lessons learned from HealthCare.gov.  What went wrong, when and why?  What can be learned from the experience?

3.   Bestpractices for avoiding failure on future projects.  How can we plan, control and manage projects for success?

 

CAST is the leader in Software Analysis and Measurement, providing visibility into root causes of cost and risk in enterprise software systems.

Galorath’s SEER Software is the leading solution for project planning, estimating and tracking of software and IT projects.

Register Now:  Click here

Date & Time:  December 17, 2013  8:30am Pacific (11:30am Eastern, 4:30pm London)

 

Duration: 60 Minutes

 

Presenters:


Lev Lesokhin,
EVP of Strategy and Market Development at CAST


Dan Galorath,
Founder & CEO of Galorath Incorporated

Lee Fischman, Sr. Director of Galorath Incorporated 

 

 

Register: Click here 

Click “Register”

On the registration form, enter your information and then click “Submit”

Once the host approves your enrollment, you will receive a confirmation email message with instructions on how to join the event.

 

 

For Assistance: Contact Kelly Timko at 310-414-3222 x632 or ktimko@galorath.com

 

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.




Understanding Healthcare.gov’s Rocky Rollout Infographic

November 11, 2013 · Filed Under Estimation Process, General, IT Estimating, Software Estimating · 2 Comments 

Galorath Inc. (the SEER Cost, Schedule, Risk Model Developers) watched the healthcare.gov rollout difficulties, the outcries and finger pointing and decided to take a more analytical look. While it is easy to throw stones at stakeholders, this was a huge IT project and there were bound to be challenges. Could it have gone better? Sure. Were there adequate resources? Seems so. Should testing and quality assurance been more rigorous? Yes, but there didn’t appear to be adequate time. Were the requirements firmed up in advance? That could have been a significant contributor.

We are confident that healthcare.gov will recover and this will go down in history as another IT lesson learned. Using our SEER models up front could have shown the minimum possible schedule as well as costs and risks. This foresight could have helped the government and suppliers to do better to plan for the inevitable defects.  Tracking progress with SEER could have also provided an early warning indicator…  Probably early enough that corrective actions could have helped.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post and look for the heading, “Embed Our Infographic On Your Site!” and you can use that code to embed this infographic on your site. Please link back to http://www.galorath.com if you use this infographic.  We have also provided a PDF document you may distribute freely with link credit to Galorath.com.  The PDF is 11 megs so be patient.

 

healthcare-gov-galorath-infographic

 

Infographic Transcript:

Why did healthcare.gov have rollout problems?

  • Extreme number of legacy systems, inside Government and among 3rd parties
  • Citizenship certification and income verification
  • Numerous, powerful stakeholders: the President, insurance companies, states, Congress
  • Complex eligibility rules
  • Different rules for different states
  • A volatile environment with numerous starts and stops: Supreme Court, Presidential election, extreme political disagreement
  • Registration requirement added very late in development
  • Not enough time

Not just another eCommerce site!How much has been spent on Healthcare.gov
How much does $150M buy?
Assuming…

  • 10-30 major systems
  • $18K average monthly salary (government rates)

What kind of quality is delivered on delivery day?

How much software can you buy for $150M?
500,000 to 600,000 lines of code Or about 24,000 unadjusted function points. In other words…

Half of Android 4.0 (2011)
http://thenextweb.com/google/2011/10/19/googles-andy-rubin-there-are-over-1-million-lines-of-code-in-android/#article

One tenth of Quickbooks (2012)
http://www.drdobbs.com/tools/building-quickbooks-how-intuit-manages-1/240003694

A teeny fraction of Facebook
http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/04/facebook-windows/

Why did some states develop their own exchanges?

  • Historical insurance sovereignty within states
  • State-specific insurance markets

Which states developed their own exchanges?
Map of states implementing there own exchanges

What were the states’ web site experiences?
Oregon

  • 1,700 individual rules affect eligibility for health insurance subsidies in Oregon
  • In Oregon, writing the eligibility rules engine took 12 people nine months.
  • Estimated cost of $54M
  • Paper only on Oct 1, site operational in mid October

California

  • Given $990M
  • Operational on time

Connecticut

  • Operational on time

Washington

  • Given $150M
  • Operational slightly late

Kentucky

  • Operational on time

New York

  • Operational on time

Idaho

  • Given $90M
  • System due early 2014

Minnesota, Nevada and Rhode Island

  • Operational on time, but issues connecting with Federal data hub

 

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/us/politics/uninsured-find-more-success-via-health-exchanges-run-by-states.html

Why build a Government insurance exchange if there already are private ones?
Unclear

However, private exchanges can now sell ACA-compliant plans WITHOUT subsidies. 34 were added in 2013.
Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100925732
Stumbling block: private exchanges also can’t access data hub to determine subsidies.
Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101153131

Private exchanges will later be able to offer subsidized plans.

How does the Government perform on other IT projects?
An analysis of Government sector projects indicates that they generally performed better than the non-Government sector projects. The highlights are as follows:

  • The Government projects were 8% more productive than non-government projects. By that we mean that more functionality was delivered per developer hour.
  • The speed of delivery of Government projects is slightly better, (measured by the number of function points delivered in a month)
  • On average, Government projects are being delivered 37% later than their delivery estimate and 22% of projects exceed their cost estimate.

Are there recent, successful Government Web IT projects?

2013:

  • How’s My Waterway – Environmental Protection Agency
  • Self-Service Logon Remote Proofing – Defense Manpower Data Center
  • Medicare.gov Responsive Design – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

2012:

  • National Broadband Map – Federal Communications Commission/National Telecommunication and Information Administration
  • Supertracker – USDA Food Nutrition and Consumer Services
  • Arlington National Cemetery Explorer  – Arlington National Cemetery

When do Government projects succeed?

  • Incremental delivery
  • Expectations management
  • Team empowerment
  • Strong leadership
  • Accurate upfront estimates

 

Thank you for reading “Dan on Estimating”, if you would like more information about Galorath’s estimation models, please visit our contact page, call us at +1 310 414-3222 or click a button below to ask sales questions, sign up for our free library or schedule a demo.

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