United States Navy Advanced Weapons Lab
Financial, Project, and Risk Management Database and Tools Suite
CTA is currently under a multi-year, multi-million dollar online tools effort to create a web-based, integrated application suite to perform project planning and estimating, manage project execution and risk, and provide real-time reporting.
The US Navy maintains and upgrades fighter and attack aircraft, as well as aircraft for several other ally countries. The combined fleet is surprisingly diverse, and multiple, unique configurations are represented across the variant and country-specific platforms. The Navy is responsible for the entire lifecycle of modifications to these aircraft, including planning, estimating, research & development, design, implementation, testing, and delivery back to the fleet. Several hundred such efforts are in progress at any given time and are spread across multiple, independently-grouped deployments involving integrated software/hardware solutions. Planning the resources and costs for these efforts involves coordinating input from multiple customers, multiple vendors, and an in-house staff of government engineers and specialists. Prior to CTA’s involvement, tasks were estimated using hundreds of Excel files stored on a common network drive. These files were notoriously difficult to maintain and aggregating cost data across the set took several weeks in some cases. The process for estimating the resources required to perform these efforts was inconsistent and loosely defined, and changes to resource rates required cumbersome, time-consuming, and infrequently executed file updates, all of which resulted in a high degree of variability in cost estimates from effort to effort and inaccurate budget plans.
CTA’s approach to these challenges was to design and implement a suite of online planning tools to consolidate data collection, standardize processes, and centralize an integrated point of access for cost and management data. Deliverables included web-based estimate creation tools, tools to process, distribute, and track incoming funds, and a centralized reporting platform to make unified, aggregated cost data available on demand. All tools followed a streamlined workflow model that supported automated email notification and queuing to facilitate and manage tasks within the tool suite. Requests for estimate input from the appropriate organizational functions are generated by the system according to selections by the estimate manager and input is provided directly into the system. As estimates are funded, incoming funds are allocated to the proper recipients, and the system notifies the recipients that funds are available via email. Future plans call for a major upgrade to extend the level of detail in estimates and integration of actual expenditure data to support execution management and budget vs. actual analysis. All features are matured, fine-tuned, and enhanced over the lifetime of the contract through regular releases and on-site training activities.