Friday, February 10, 2012

NBT system NASA

The NBT Case Study assigned for this class (and attached below) was developed to demonstrate the important concepts raised not only in this week's materials, but also the materials from your previous project management courses. In responding to the questions below, think creatively about the key problems in the NBT system and how you would resolve them.

Key problems
Congress had recently become aware of the large un-costed carryover and had requested that the NOAA IG audit the project’s finances to determine if appropriated funds were being used as directed.
Congress cut NOAA’s budget request by the same amount and directed NASA and NOAA to use the old funds for the coming year.
The process to move the funds into accounts that could be used in the NASA accounting system was long and difficult,
Sarah knew that her staff must start working on this process right away. She also knew that she would have to examine all of the other business operations to determine if there were any other systemic problems.
the spacecraft contractor, Acme Space Company, seldom needed to consult schedules and drawings as they completed the hardware. In fact, they didn’t worry about updating the detailed schedules and drawings.
The contractor’s master schedule did not always reflect the true status of the project and seldom had the same dates as the production schedules.
NASA managers were aware of this practice and concurred with the need to keep the work moving. They compensated for the disconnect by making adjustments to Acme Space Company’s schedules when they reported the project status to NOAA.
We need to fix the process and enforcement so that the contractor would consult and update schedules and drawings. Make sure the master schedule reflect true status so that NASA managers don’t have to make too many adjustments of the schedules and project status.

NBT Deputy Project Manager, Sam, was proud of his ability to convince Acme Space Company to accept engineering changes without formal contractual direction. Contractor does the additional work at no cost to the government.
Acme Space Company’s, was growing increasingly nervous, building up a large backlog of proposals with no contractual documentation from the contracting officer. Some of the changes might also impact the completion schedule of the contract.
Compile a list of the outstanding changes. Force all the changes gone through the change management control processes. Including tracking, evaluating, analysis const, prioritizing, etc.
Most of the variance analysis reports stated that no meaningful analysis was possible because the plan didn’t reflect the work actually being done.
Acme Space Company would not reflect proposed changes in the performance measurement baseline until they were negotiated. In this way, he could ensure that his baseline was never above the contract value.
Sam was sensitive to contractors re-planning their work all the time, so he didn’t allow them to do so unless he concurred.
Sarah noted that the monthly earned value and actual cost had negative values in some cases
It had been several years since a comprehensive look at the estimate at completion had been performed.
Enforce the process that variance analysis report reflects the real situation.
And let the problems appear on the report and try to think about how to fix all those problems, including schedule and cost overrun.
Sam’s direction had changed some of the standard earned value rules and terminology.
the Earned Value Management System (EVMS) data for NBT was inconsistent with the rest of the Princeton facility’s system.
did not match the Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB) staffing plan, nor did the actual staffing levels match those of the earned value reports.
Time collection system was manual and that many people submitted their timecards late.

Implement computerized system and make it fits the standards.
Make sure the people can get used to the new system and put their electronic time sheets on time.
impending closure of the Princeton plant due to the consolidation of defense contractor facilities.
Acme Space Company would move four satellites in various stages of production to Los Altos, California, along with about 20 of the senior engineering managers.
Everyone else (250 people) in the Princeton facility would be given early retirement or lay-off slips within the next year.
transition plan was needed to ensure data integrity and continuity
Accounting and earned value systems were not the same as those used in Princeton, so a transition plan was needed to ensure data integrity and continuity during and after the move.

Key players
Deputy Project Manager
IG (Inspector General) Congress
Henry Mabie
Old PM
Organization carry ou tprojects
Acme Space Company
Spacecraft contractor
Acme Space Company project manager

1. In the NBT case, how realistic is the budget request that was given to NOAA prior to Sarah's arrival on the project?
The project had started many years before Sarah became the DPM/R and had enjoyed a healthy budget. In fact, the budget was so fat that the project had accumulated over a year’s worth of uncosted residual funds from the nine previous fiscal years. It was not realistic.
That’s why the congress send inspector general to audit the project and make a decision that the budget is cut and make them use up all the old reserve before they can use the new ones.
2. Of all the problems faced, which problem has the potential for causing the largest overrun for the project?
I feel the closure of the Princeton plant would cause the largest overrun of the project. Since most people who know the technical stuff would get kicked out, except the senior managers. The knowledge would be lost and no one can pick up the project quick and be productive on what they have been doing.
Moreover, the style they have been using is no good documentation, no good drawings, no artifacts. Once the people are gone, no one would know what’s have been done. The whole program would fail if the transition plans were not done very carefully. Also make the people to redraw and re-document everything from the beginning again would be a hard job, especially if they know they would be kicked out later.

3. How could a well organized Project Management Office have avoided the problem described in question 2? Explain how you would have structured you PMO to avoid this problem.
Allocate enough budget and resource for projects for the transition plan.
1)     One project is to force the people to generate all the artifacts, drawing, documentation back from the beginning.
2)     Another project is a knowledge transfer project, let the contractor train the NASA or NOAA people about the technical details of the whole program, also the infrastructure of the program. Set up buffer period that new people can do start owning jobs while old people can support them.
3)     Change and enforce the process so that the ACME space aircraft would generate artifacts while they develop things or make changes. Enforce strict tracking and monitoring, so that NASA can have more control of what they are doing.
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Eric Tse, Richmond Hill, Toronto
Tse and Tse Consulting -Security, Identity Access Management, Solution Architect, Consulting

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