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Galaxy Charts: Depict and Color Your WBS in a Meaningful Way

Methods and Models II Track



For centuries, we have searched for new ways to display our thoughts and ideas in ways that will allow the viewer to easily digest and understand our point of view. Displaying quantitative data in interesting yet meaningful ways is no different. In fact, discerning how to display your entire Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) succinctly and clearly has proven to be very difficult. One answer to this challenge is called the Galaxy Chart, which shows both relationships and magnitudes on a single chart.
The Galaxy Chart concept was first introduced at the 2012 SCEA/ISPA Joint Conference and Training Workshop where it was awarded Best Overall Conference Paper for its creativity and applicability to the cost profession. Since that time, Technomics and others have shown numerous Galaxy Charts to their various customers and colleagues throughout the defense industry and have presented the concept at several forums. Though the concept has received praise for its usefulness and innovation, we do not think that the concept is complete and have continued to brainstorm and develop the concept further.
This paper will briefly review the Galaxy Chart concept but will focus on the updates and new ideas that have been performed since Galaxy Charts were first introduced. Though many enhancements have been made throughout the course of the year, this paper will primarily focus on how the use of color in a Galaxy Chart can add yet another dimension to the chart and visually show useful information. In the original paper, the use of color was not highlighted, and no suggestions were given as to how to use it. This paper will fill that void and show how colors can be used to call attention to specific elements (e.g., a critical subcontract); show relationships not captured by the WBS (e.g., highlight all integration-related work); and even show qualitative and quantitative metrics (e.g., temperature scale for earned value performance indices). This paper will also cover how to automatically draw a Galaxy Chart, as well as some of the new insights and applications of the concept.


Robert Nehring
Technomics, Inc.
Mr. Nehring is a cost analyst for Technomics, where he has been involved on many projects throughout the Department of Defense, including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. Early in his career, Mr. Nehring supported the Office of Naval Research by leading a project that analyzed and assessed the schedule and staffing projections for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Once joining Technomics, he has provided cost support to many programs including LCS, Ohio Replacement Program, and the Offshore Patrol Cutter. Throughout his career, he has developed many innovative data visualization techniques, cost-related tools, and relational databases. In addition, he has been heavily involved in building both submarine and surface combatant performance based cost models for the Navy. At the 2012 SCEA/ISPA Joint Annual Conference, he won Best Overall Paper for a paper about Galaxy Charts. Mr. Nehring holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and is a SCEA-Certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (CCEA).

Katharine Mann
Technomics, Inc.
Ms. Katharine Mann is a cost analyst for Technomics, Inc. where she has been involved on projects throughout the Department of Defense. During her career she has supported the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) San Diego, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army-Cost & Economics (DASA-CE), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Naval Surface Warfare Center ? Carderock, and Defense Acquisition University (DAU). Ms. Mann’s experience supporting these customers includes applied cost analysis and research, PLCCE development, relational database maintenance, developing and enhancing an analogy model using non-recurring engineering data, and assisting with training modules on software cost estimating. Ms. Mann was a co-author of the 2012 SCEA Best Conference Paper “Galaxy Charts: The 1,000 Light Year View of the Data.” Ms. Mann holds both Bachelors and Masters of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech as well as a graduate certificate in Engineering Education.

Robert R. Jones
Technomics, Inc.
Mr. Robert R. Jones graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1969, and he received a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Catholic University of America in 1973. For thirty-three years he was employed by the Navy at the NSWC Carderock Division. Upon retirement in January 2003, he was the Department Head of the Systems Engineering and Analysis Department. Since 2003, he has been a Senior Cost Analyst with Technomics, Inc. He has more than thirty years of experience in life cycle cost estimating and economic analysis of high technology military systems. Emphasis areas are: collecting, organizing, managing, and analyzing cost and technical databases; creating engineering build-up, parametric, and analogy-based cost models for hardware and software systems; supporting ACAT I program offices with regard to Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), Program Life Cycle Cost Estimates, Independent Cost Estimates, Earned Value Management (EVM) analysis, source selection participation, and preparation of Contractor Cost and Software Data Reporting plans. He made presentations to DoDCAS, DoNCAS, SCEA, and ISPA. At the 2012 SCEA/ISPA Joint Annual Conference, he won Best Overall Paper for a paper about Galaxy Charts.