An advanced technology product developer and manufacturer needed a solution with estimating, pricing, project management, and earned value management capabilities.
Using ProjStream’s enterprise, end-to-end solution, the contractor now manages their entire pipeline and awards in one place. The change increased their proposal efficiency by at least 40% over their previous toolset: Microsoft Excel paired with a third-party, off-the-shelf earned value cost and project management tool.
ProjStream’s implementation team completed the implementation, including integrations with products the team uses for development, and product training within a 6-month period. And, since adoption, they have experienced a 15% proposal win increase.
“This is huge because now we have best practices to manage projects both large and small, and we have all the data in one place. What this means for us is the ability to anticipate resource needs earlier than we were able to prior, and we can more accurately project estimates at completion for all projects. And maybe the biggest benefit we’ve had is adding more data-driven traceability to our estimates which have allowed us to increase the confidence we’ve built with our customers.” – VP of Engineering and Program Management.
About the Contractor
The contractor develops and manufactures advanced technology products in the aerospace and defense industry, including aircraft engines, avionics, aerostructures, cybersecurity, guided missiles, air defense systems, satellites, and drones.
Challenge: In Search of an End-to-End Solution
The Vice-President of Engineering and Program Management and her team came to us with a need for a solution that had estimating and pricing, project management, and earned value management capabilities.
The contractor’s existing platform used Microsoft Excel as the primary tool for estimating and pricing. A third-party commercial-off-the-shelf tool was used for project management and earned value cost management. The system was described as ‘very disjointed’ and some specific problems were identified that the contractor wished to address.
These issues included:
Challenges in Project Estimating
- No effective way existed to connect a standard material catalog to estimates.
- Conducting any what-if analysis was a manual, time-consuming process.
- There was no ability to view resource demands from the pipeline.
- The quality of the estimates was poor and lacked valid historical data to back up estimates.
Challenges in Project Execution
- Many smaller contracts were being poorly tracked or not tracked at all.
- The team could not track revenue and estimates at completion accurately for overall product lines or programs.
- Due to a lack of integration between systems, keeping the agile platform (JIRA) in line with the cost baselines was a very manual process.
“The major requirements we had were critical to improving our proposal quality, including adding the ability to store and reuse historical estimates and historical actuals tracked against a baseline. Additionally, we have been looking to tie in our material catalog into an application that provides the ability to quickly find and select the appropriate parts or assemblies that apply to a particular build.”
Another major requirement was having the ability to quickly perform what-if analysis while maintaining multiple versions of an estimate based on different assumptions.
On the project management execution side of the house, the contractor was not tracking performance and projections for many smaller contracts due to inefficiencies in the manual process.
“Our average contract size is probably around $7-10M,” explained the VP, “The existing project tool that we had in house was just too difficult to use, so a large majority of our smaller contracts were not being managed properly. We wanted to be able to scale our process and data so that we could track and manage all of this. We knew this would give us the visibility that we were looking for.”
Additionally, a sizable number of the projects use JIRA, a software application used for agile project management, which could not be integrated into their process.
“We were looking for a project management application that has successfully tied into JIRA so that we could automate the planning and tracking being done and have that translate to percent complete and estimates at completion.”
“The last major issue we were dealing with is not having a comprehensive view of what our resource requirements were across the board, concerning both the pipeline as well as projects in execution. We were seeking an end-to-end solution that can help us efficiently estimate projects, track the projects once in motion and take advantage of the connected systems from a data and decision-making standpoint,” she said.
Solution: ProjStream Delivered a Comprehensive Solution with Real-time Tie-ins to Key Business Systems
The ProjStream implementation team was able to implement, train and deliver an end-to-end estimating, pricing and project management solution with complex requirements and integration needs in a 6-month period.
“We were pleased with the time it took to set up the configuration, connect all the data via integration, set up process and work instructions and get everyone trained,” said the VP. “The tools and automation are important, but unless best practices and processes are followed, you won’t get a standardized way of doing program management. ProjStream excels at this side of the business, and this approach drives adoption.”
“We were able to tie in nicely to our parts catalog and get access to our master list of parts and assemblies as part of our estimating process. Iterating proposal assumptions and keeping track of multiple versions has become an advantage for us, which is something we used to dread. Also, it is now easy to recall historical data from a centralized data system and document the entire trail. Once we win the contract, transitioning the estimate plan to a time-phased baseline has become an easy part of the process.”
“We can tie into JIRA as part of our agile planning process and make updates to status as well as the baseline. ProjStream took our requirements and leveraged their API to build the interface we were looking for. And performing EAC assessments has become so simple using the Workbench application with workflow tracking.”
Key Benefits of an End-to-End Experience
The biggest benefits identified by this customer have been:
- An increased win rate by 15%
- Added visibility to the resource pool has added efficiency to staffing and program ramp-up.
- Estimates at completion (EAC) can be generated and tracked for all projects, not only large contracts.
- Earlier identification of risks for projects and programs
- Proposal efficiency increased by at least 40% (what used to take 10 hours now takes 6 hours to estimate) due to having a parts catalog available at the user’s fingertips.
Scaling the Business with ProjStream
Because ProjStream is an end-to-end enterprise solution, this large defense contractor can now manage their entire pipeline and awards in one place. “This is huge,” said the VP, “because now we have best practices to manage projects both large and small, and we have all the data in one place. What this means for us is the ability to anticipate resource needs earlier than we were able to prior, and we can more accurately project estimates at completion for all projects. And maybe the biggest benefit we’ve had is adding more data-driven traceability to our estimates which have allowed us to increase the confidence we’ve built with our customers.”