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Using the New 881 WBS/CES for ERP Acquisition: Lessons Learned

Applications Track



MIL HDBK 881’s work breakdown structure/cost estimating structure (WBS/CES) is under revision, and one of the key new WBSs is an automated information systems WBS for enterprise resource planning (ERP). We used the draft 881 to create the program office estimate for the US Coast Guard’s CG-LIMS system. Even with help from key committee members in defining the categories, we encountered some difficulties in assigning ERP costs to their proper categories, in accounting for all the ERP costs, and interpreting some of the newer subelements. The new ERP WBS is far more detailed than the previous WBS for AIS, allowing for less interpretation and less ambiguity from the estimator. What it lacks so far however is years of use and definition of the categories. We discuss the lessons we learned in applying the new WBS: where cost elements are not called out and could be omitted; where there are difficulties assigning costs to a single category and what we did to resolve those questions. We will also discuss our approach to risk estimation within the WBS. This discussion will be useful to estimators and program offices planning to undertake ERP programs.


Virginia Stouffer
Ms. Stouffer has been a research fellow at LMI since 1997, and a senior fellow since 2010. Ms. Stouffer’s fields of technical expertise include electronic communications engineering, information theory, cost analysis, simulation and modeling, airline economics, aerospace regulations and procedures, feasibility studies, and parametric analysis. Ms. Stouffer has Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and in Economics, with additional graduate work in Robust Statistics. Ms. Stouffer also speaks and writes on best practices in data management, with emphasis on technical data management and building the business case to manage program data properly. A private pilot, she has analyzed aerospace issues for NASA, JPDO, DoD, FAA, EUROCONTROL, ICAO, NLR, and several airlines. Ms. Stouffer has been a SCEA-certified cost analyst since 2004; she is the administrator of a cost analysis knowledge portal and community of practice at LMI, where she often teaches cost analysis.

Gerry Belcher, PMP
Mr. Belcher is the Program Manager for Cost and Resource Analysis for LMI, a not-for-profit Government consulting firm in McLean, Virginia. Mr. Belcher has more than 28 years of experience analyzing acquisition, operational, and resource issues. He manages staff and projects that address cost estimating and analysis, resource management, cost-benefit analysis, and risk analysis. His programs include ongoing support of the Office of the Secretary of Defense to develop new methods for forecasting the impacts of investing reliability and of funding reductions to ACAT programs, and developing cost estimates for major Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) systems. Mr. Belcher is a former career Army officer with a diverse background in air and missile defense and military operations research. During his more than twenty years on active duty, he served as a research analyst in the offices of the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASARDA), and the Army’s Concepts Analysis Agency. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the U. S. Military Academy and a Master of Science in Management from George Washington University.