Deciphering JCL: How to use the JCL Scatterplot and Isocurves

Risk I Track



As the use of integrated cost and schedule risk analysis (ICSRA) methodologies rapidly expands across U.S. government programs there has been increasing confusion on how to interpret its seminal result: the Joint Confidence Level scatterplot and its associated isocurve. Over the past few years, the following statements have been made about JCL:

1. JCL isocurves allow a program the ability to trade-off cost and schedule
2. JCL isocurves allow a program the ability to see the cost impact of constraining a schedule
3. Any point on the JCL isocurve is a valid way to budget/plan a program

This presentation will focus on deciphering the JCL scatterplot, and its associated iso-curves, through simple to understand real-world analogies. Following a brief introduction into ICSRA methodologies, the author will continue with an in-depth exploration of what this oft-misinterpreted metric tells us, and what it cannot, about a program’s, or portfolio’s, risk posture. Topics will include an explanation of how JCL curves should be interpreted and whether or not this curve can be used by a project to perform cost and schedule trade-offs. Continuing with an examination of the relationship between cost and schedule uncovered by the iso-curves, the presenters will provide a methodology for capturing conditional cost and schedule probabilities from the scatterplot. The examination of the results will include a set of recommendations for decision makers and analysts using ICSRA to make decisions.


Eric Druker
Booz Allen Hamilton
Eric Druker has 8 years’ experience performing cost and schedule risk analysis for a varied range of DoD, Intelligence, and Civilian agencies. He is currently employed as a Senior Associate with Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group leading the firm’s RealTime Analytics modeling and simulation capability. A recognized industry expert in cost estimating and risk analysis, in 2009, Eric was named National Cost Estimator/Analyst of the Year for Technical Achievement by the Society of Cost Estimating & Analysis (SCEA). As an author of over a dozen industry papers, including one best paper award, he is an internationally recognized expert in cost estimating and risk analysis having been an invited speaker or panelist at conferences including, but not limited to, Department of Defense Cost Analysis Symposium (DoDCAS), Naval Postgraduate School’s Acquisition Research Symposium (NPS-ARS), Space Systems Cost Analysis Group (SSCAG) Meeting, Australian Department of Defence Cost Analysis Symposium and NASA’s Project Management Challenge. Eric’s works are also cited in the GAO’s Cost Estimating & Assessment Best Practices guide.