Lockheed Martin saves time and money with automated Milestones Schedules

Lockheed Martin is engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products, and services for government and commercial customers.
When I started as the Program Controller for Lockheed Martin on one of their satellite programs, everyone maintained his own schedules.  Each release owner (system engineers responsible for a given software and/or database release) had his own MS Project schedules for each of the releases assigned to him.  The resulting schedules differed in task naming conventions, what tasks they were tracking, and key dates.  From those disparate schedules, the project manager maintained his own “master” MS Project schedule of key tasks.  There had to be a better way.
Standardized and "Big Picture" scheduling
The first few months, I spent most of my work week interfacing with the release owners and maintaining the “master” schedule.  The master schedule consisted of anywhere from 6-10 pages of the key tasks for each of 10-20 releases in progress.  While the schedule was impossible to maintain, the real problem was you couldn’t get the “big picture” after looking at so many pages of an MS Project schedule.  To further complicate matters, everyone had his own version of the key dates--dates that did not necessarily jibe with the other Lockheed folks or the Government.  After enduring months of frustration, I began looking for a scheduling tool that was graphically oriented, easier to maintain, and less complex than MS Project.  After all, the “master” schedule was meant to be a high level depiction of the wellness of the program, and it was doing a poor job of it....until I found KIDASA Software's Milestones project management tool. Satellite Constellation
One-page "Wellness" reporting, in one hour, in one tool
My first impression of KIDASA Software was how responsive they were to my queries.  However, the selling point of Milestones was that I could keep a detailed schedule and develop a much higher level schedule that would satisfy management’s need.  Do they want to read a sixteen page schedule "summary"?  No. They want a measure of wellness, while leaving the day-to-day or hour-to-hour progress to the release owner's MS Project schedule.

I then began a regular, weekly, one hour meeting to go over the Milestones “master” schedule with management and release owners.  I also presented Milestones schedules developed for other ongoing efforts by the team.  Many times I have developed entire custom schedules in under an hour for special needs.

Schedule automation and centralized project data
Needless to say I was extremely happy that I had “automated” much of my job, but there was still one nagging problem--the same dates were maintained in various types of schedules throughout the project.  That’s when I remembered the interface that KIDASA developed between a NASA schedule database and Milestones.  From KIDASA's sample Visual Basic code, I developed a program that populated a Milestones schedule directly from MS Access data.  I was in heaven!  Not only did I have a great scheduling tool, but now I had the means to build a central repository for all schedule dates and related data!  Now, I spend 1-2 hours a week maintaining the MS Access database and literally seconds generating the schedules.  If we were allowed laptops in our building I could get even more sophisticated and present directly from it during my weekly meetings.  

The database interface capability now insures that all schedules are talking the same dates and allows different views simply by using different queries to drive Milestones.  I’m working now to have our administrative assistant perform the weekly data entry for the database, freeing up even more of my time.

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