Lockheed Martin saves time and money with automated
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"
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.
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
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
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.