App lets Air Force, Navy gain control of workflow

The Navy plans to use project management software to help improve operations at several major shipyards, including the service's Portsmouth, Va., yard.

Courtesy of Navy Mate 3rd class Mark Martinez

The first year the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii began using Concerto software to accelerate the flow of projects, officials cut overtime by $9 million.

Now, the same software is being phased in at other shipyards in Bremerton, Wash., Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth, Va.

Joseph M. Bradley, a retired Navy captain who helped implement the software at Pearl Harbor in early 2002, said Concerto, from Realization Technologies of San Jose, Calif., gives users an accurate assessment of resources and helps Navy brass make smarter decisions about how to allocate personnel.

Concerto measures the flow of a project and prioritizes tasks based on that flow. The software uses color codes to flag projects slipping behind schedule.

'It allows you to find your gaps and get rid of them,' said Bradley recently during the Project Flow 2004 conference in Arlington, Va. 'It also gives you a way to synchronize your workforce. When people finish a job, there wasn't an ability to get the next step done immediately. It gave us better visibility of what people were actually doing.'

Realization CEO Sanjeev Gupta said his company's software helps officials manage projects from start to finish. 'The U.S. Navy pioneered conventional project management. However, the Navy is now moving toward managing the total flow, instead of just tracking and managing critical path,' Gupta said.

The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is using a homegrown system to address its project management problems. The center, which has employees dispersed around the globe, is responsible for testing all new systems being developed for the Air Force.

Lt. Col. Denise Kloeppel, chief of the Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Test Division at the center, said it was faced with tests that were increasing in both complexity and number. They were also consuming more time and money, all while the agency reduced some of its resources.

'Denise's division was definitely in chaos,' added Duke Porritt, a project management professional and senior project management adviser. 'It was so ugly in her division, it was impossible for them to get anything done.'

So the agency developed its own software, which follows the Theory of Constraints Project Management methodology, but soon found that its system required too much manpower, Kloeppel said. Theory of Constraints is a management philosophy that focuses an organization's resources on improving the performance of a project by identifying and resolving bottlenecks.

Failure recovery

Soon after the agency's homegrown software solution failed to improve processes, Kloeppel said the center decided to test the Concerto software.

Since the C2ISR Test Division implemented Concerto, its has completed 12 projects'six ahead of schedule'in the last quarter alone. The test was considered such a success that the entire test center will implement the software under the direction of Kloeppel's division. That work will be complete by the end of next year, she said.

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