RELEAse Notes

Version 1.2 - February 2020

 

Confidence Roll-up

Confidence is calculated for labor estimates based on the estimating method (e.g. level of effort, imported resource plan, parametric or based on actual performance history) and for materials based on the age and quantity variance of the “best-fit” source document such as the purchase order or routing. Confidence is now rolled-up from each estimate to the WBS, and up the WBS hierarchy to the proposal level. As confidence is aggregated or rolled up each estimate’s confidence is weighted based on the cost of each estimate in your company’s currency. Users also have the option to select a manual confidence “5-star score”, in the same way as you give feedback on smart-phone apps, at WBS element level. The single-user input confidence score (1-5) and system-generated score (as a %) can co-exist, though the “5-star” scores can also be derived from the system calculated % if you prefer, based on a configurable rating scale

Costing based on Production Order History

Up until now make parts were costed based on SAP routing labor standards. We now provide a standard API for costing based on production order history, with a preconfigured estimating method for costing based on routings and then production orders, if the routing standards were not found. Fundamentally we average the hours, by work-center, across the range of production orders with options to:

  • Define in configuration of the estimating method how far back to scan in terms of either number of orders or how far back in time

  • Exclude or include zero-hour production orders, i.e. production orders in SAP with no labor confirmations

  • Select which standard values (e.g. set-up, processing, machining etc.) should be included in historical production order hours

  • Exclude or include outliers, namely the highest and lowest hours recorded for a specific work-center

We are planning future enhancements to limit production orders by SAP plant, to weight production order hours based on recency, and to automatically calculate learning curve factors based on the rate of improvement and the number of orders at each work-center

Independent Assessments     

The Pricing tab of the proposal was cleaned up and Independent Assessment results moved to a new Advanced tab with inputs for both the entire proposal and by phase (in the Phase tab) of:

  • Minimum, max. and most-likely cost of the proposal from an independent assessment. This data is used to compare risk-adjusted proposal costs to the independently assessed cost range

  • Performance risk factor which is used to give an independent assessment of the sum of weighted risks from the risk register

  • G&A % baked into the business plan for the company, to model how not all the G&A cost associated with this new proposal need to be included in a proposal-specific profit margin analysis

Performance

Major improvements to performance were made in response to customer volume / stress testing including:

  • Generation of the proposal cost model automatically in real-time using stored procedures, a fast SAP HANA database level script

  • An option to run material consolidation and costing in “net change” mode which means that only materials where the data has changed (e.g. new or deleted BOM items) will be costed instead of re-costing thousands of products / materials each time

  • Implementation of SAP HANA “workload classes” to streamline the background processes and to prevent long running background jobs – such as a full BOM explosion, lot-sizing and material costing for 50,000 parts – from delaying smaller, more urgent jobs such as proposal copies or new versions

  • Database tuning and memory optimization including a recommendation to restart the servers on a round-robin basis when deploying updates or bug fixes in a production environment

  • Optimization of bill of material import, cascade data or tags down large bills of material, copying or versioning large proposals and their underlying estimates, and opening very large estimates

Primavera P6 Integration  

The integration between iPE and Primavera, which currently relies on Excel files being transferred between the two systems, was enhanced as follows:

  • Updating of user date fields in Primavera from the resource or task start/end dates in iPE. This is necessary because Primavera does its own scheduling and does not accept external dates

  • Configurable WBS and task P6 ID naming standards so that your company can match-up how iPE and P6 generate WBS and task internal ID’s

The current interface supports creation of tasks and resource assignments in either direction (P6 à iPE or iPE à P6) but currently only supports the creation of WBS elements separately in both systems

Project Baseline

When generating the project baseline in SAP, for proposal estimated costs, we discovered that SAP flatly rejects planned proposal costs if the work-center, plant, and activity type combination are not defined and planned properly in SAP in transactions CR02/KP26. Consequently, we enhanced our project baseline interface to look up the work-center, activity type, cost-center, and plant combination in SAP and if not found, then search for the same work-center in another SAP plant and use that work center instead

 

At the same time special characters such as “%”, which are permitted in the SAP material master description, were being rejected by the middleware which is SAP’s Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) toolset. Consequently, we enhanced the SAP material master interface to strip out any invalid CPI characters, and to only retain 0...9 aA...zZ

Proposal BOM

Enhancements to the proposal bill of material (BOM) in this version include:

  • Option to cascade supply site, complexity and tag values assigned down the bill of material structure

  • Option to search and filter the indentured product configuration or bill of material (BOM) to focus on specific part numbers

  • Improvements to the BOM cost roll-up including calculation and display of the make or buy labor or material cost, burdens, summary of lower level component costs, and the equivalent cost of the BOM assembly (and its lower levels) for one end item

Proposal Bus. Unit

During the proposal set-up you specify the leading business unit as well as other units contributing resources to the bid. You can now select either a company or site as both leading and supporting business units. While companies map to SAP companies, sites in iPE typically map to your SAP plant codes, but could also map to your profit or cost-center hierarchy. If you select a site as the leading unit then the site’s parent company is automatically adopted as the proposal company, with internal proposal costs computed in this currency

 

At the same time, we added a delivery-from site to the proposal line item, which defaults from either the assigned WBS or the proposal set-up. The line item site, equivalent to the delivery-plant in SAP, informs iPE which SAP plant to check first when importing the bill of material (BOM) for any line items which are hardware or assemblies with a BOM. If there is a special procurement key in SAP which maps to an alternative “supply site” in iPE then the BOM for the material’s supply site is imported instead of the BOM for the site from the proposal line item

Proposal Scheduling

Rescheduling an entire proposal was included in this release with options to reschedule based on changes to the period of performance start date, end date, adjust all estimates to fit the new proposal dates, or stretch/shrink phases, WBS elements, tasks and labor estimates to fit the new proposal schedule and WBS/task durations. You now have the option to specify whether you want to reschedule or retain existing proposal dates when copying another proposal or importing from a template. Rescheduling is based on lead-time offsets and is not constraint-based at this time

Reports Menu

The reporting menu, which invokes SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC), Web-Intelligence (WebI), SAP Lumira or other reports built in your company’s preferred data visualization toolset via a URL, is now configurable. To define your own reports menu in iPE, add entries into the TwentyFiveConfig table of type report with the display name and URL for each report

Usability

When you open each application you will now be automatically placed on whatever tab or page you were on last time you were in the same application, regardless of what proposal or estimate you were working on

 

Version 1.3 - June 2020

Consolidated Material Buy Part Popup Improvements

Some improvements to the popup for material cost, for purchased materials include:

  • The option to show historical purchase orders (PO’s) based on unit or actual cost of each historical PO, vs. adjusted unit cost which is actual PO unit cost x inflation adjustment factor x quantity adjustment factor, for each historical PO

  • Fixes to calculation of the inflation adjustment factor (IAF) from changes to the source document date including month-by-month calculation of the inflation factor, pro-rated from the annual inflation based on banking industry best practices, and a consistent approach to calculating the IAF in both the popup and the background costing procedure

Consolidated Material List WBS

Some improvements to the consolidated material list include:

  • Displaying the WBS which led to a specific material cost in the consolidated material list within our material estimating application, together with an option to filter the list on this WBS. Because we ‘consolidate’ multiple material requirements for the same part number from different instances within the proposal BOM, one single consolidated material cost could be based on multiple different proposal BOM requirements, each with its own WBS element assigned. For this reason, we currently display and filter on the first BOM requirement WBS in the consolidated material list. To see each individual BOM requirements and their associated WBS, open the popup and click on the proposal requirements tab

  • Add commodity code (material group from SAP) to the consolidated material list, as well to the SAP material interface

  • Option to search through the consolidated material list

Field Help

Tooltips – or little speech bubbles that appear on mouse-over with helpful field explanations – were added to all of our screens covering fields and table columns across our entire application where further explanation was warranted. This is in addition to our end user help docs

Filtering on 1.1

Many of our applications allow filtering based on the WBS number which follows the convention 1.2.3 for each level in the program WBS. Our UX framework (Sencha Classic) and JavaScript treats a dot as a field/value separator so entering it e.g. “1.2” into the filter confuses the system. This has now been fixed so you can search for WBS elements starting with 1.2

Labor Groups

A new application for admin. maintenance of labor or resource groups was delivered in this version including features to:

  • Map labor resource groups in iPE to SAP activity type/cost center/work center combinations and to Primavera P6 resources

  • Map manufacturing resources (e.g. SAP work-centers) to costing resource groups (e.g. SAP cost-centers) to allow your company to estimate costs and maintain rates at a summary or costing resource group level vs. having to maintain rates for every individual SAP work-center

  • Edit labor rates by fiscal year or other date-periods with the option to calculate future-year rates based on % uplifts

Edit realization factors which are in turn copied into make part labor estimates and applied to run-times from routing standards or production order history

Live Model Download

A fix was applied to downloading our cost/price review report to Excel as a proposal “Live Model” for labor costs with no burdens or indirect cost rates being applied

Material Cost Distribution based on a Curve

Material costing, or the process of consolidating the bill of material (BOM) by part number/option/estimating method/site and then costing each part based on purchase order, production order or routing history, uses a unique “lead time offset” approach to time-phasing the material cost. This means that material costs will be incurred ‘x’ days prior to the date when the next higher assembly costs are incurred, where ‘x’ is the lead time which defaults from the SAP material master MRP view. This rule is applied even when consolidation or economic lot-sizing such as fixed or time-phased results in a single material make/buy supply proposal across multiple distinct BOM requirements. The cost of each BOM requirement will be incurred based on that BOM’s aggregate lead time offset from the end item’s manufacturing completion date in the proposal line item tab.

 

We now provide the option, for specifically marked part numbers, to cost materials based on a distribution curve maintained in the basis of estimate work breakdown structure element or BOE WBS. Rather than spreading the cost of each widget, nut or bolt across perhaps 60 months of the BOE WBS delivery period of performance, we re-assign material proposals from a cashflow perspective to available calendar months based on the best-fit of the overall material cost profile vs. whatever distribution curve has been set in the BOE WBS. In this way the combined total material cost for all components where cost distribution is based on a curve will closely match the BOE WBS’ distribution curve and period of performance

 

We do not consider routing lead times when costing make parts - only the SAP MRP basic date lead time offsets - because routing lead times are typically less than one month which is the granularity of our cost model

Product/Service

Products or services are normally interfaced from SAP’s material master, with the option for estimators to create ad-hoc estimating materials or services, or to edit the estimating parameters which defaulted from SAP, in the iPE application directly. Some improvements to the product / service master application in iPE include:

  • Option to cost or price materials based on a “price-book” or catalog, allowing more than one cost or price for a part number

  • Option to input dimensionless unit of measure conversion factors directly into the product master in iPE, such as “box” to “carton”

  • Hiding travel-only estimating attributes, such as how to calculate the travel expense quantity per trip, for non-travel material items

Layout improvements especially for make/buy planning and estimating properties

Project Baseline

Our interface which creates a project estimating baseline based on the planned proposal cost profile was enhanced to allow editing of WBS master attributes such as the control account and work-package indicators from iPE to SAP, as well as some cleaning up of the baseline log menu with improved display of previous job run times and status

Proposal Line Item Copy

You can now copy proposal line items. You have to assign a BOE-WBS and material costing WBS and check the “cost BOM” flag to re-import the SAP or proposal-specific bill of material if the copied item is an assembly

Running Cost Consolidated BOM

The option to run cost consolidated BOM from the proposal was removed since material cost estimators have this responsibility, not the proposal mgt. team. Always run cost consolidated BOM from the estimating application. Users are now also prevented from running cost consolidated BOM and roll-up BOM unit cost on the same BOE WBS at the same time

SAP BOM Import

Some enhancements to the SAP BOM import comprise:

  • Ability to define a minimum or “as required” quantity threshold in the SAP BOM view

  • Detect SAP alternative item groups and multiply the imported BOM component quantity by the alternative’s planned % in SAP

  • Better management of BOM changes made with reference to an Engineering Change in SAP, picking up the latest configuration

  • Enhancements to how the supply site is processed for products procured from another site in the company, based on SAP’s inter-plant special procurement key concept. We now check for BOMs in the product’s supply site, then we check for group-level BOMs defined across all sites or SAP plant codes

  • Organizing imported SAP BOM items in the same sequence in iPE as they were in SAP, namely in SAP BOM item number sequence

Stability

We now set background jobs as terminated if the server is re-started, to permit graceful job restarts or re-runs after server re-starts. At the same time, we made numerous fixes to transaction deadlocks, a situation where SAP HANA’s database gets all confused and goes to sleep for a few minutes because the same record is being updated concurrently by two different users

Top N Reporting

To support the requirement for reporting on materials which make up the top 80% or top 20% of material cost we now track, in descending order of total cost in company currency, the percentile on which each material make/buy proposal falls. For example, the most expensive material will be 1% of top cost, and if that single material makes up 12% of the total material budget for all purchased parts in the entire BOE, then the next most expensive material will fall on the 13% percentile. This makes reporting of the “top n%” of material costs easy

Users

iPE’s users are managed in our user database with single sign-on integration to SAML 2.0 tools such as OKTA. A new application was rolled out with version 1.3 to edit:

  • User attributes such as contact information (email, name etc.)

  • User preferences for each user including date/number formats and language

  • Authorization roles to control iPE menu access rights.

 

Version 1.4 - September 2020

BOM Performance

Several enhancements have been implemented to BOM performance to cope with bills of materials for material estimates in excess of 50,000 parts, including:

  • Separation of BOM and consolidated material views into two tabs to avoid users from loading both datasets into local memory twice by opening separate browser tabs for BOM vs. consolidated

  • Processing of the full BOM on the server instead of loading the entire indented BOM structure down to the user’s browser for the purposes of searching, filtering, and downloading to Excel. Now search, filter, and Excel download are all managed in the server, hidden away from the user, and results are returned to the user just as before. It should be noted that server calls are now made anytime the user expands a BOM node, resulting in a delay of up to half a second. This is offset by much faster initial BOM load times and is consistent with how other web-applications such as Google Drive handles large data lists

BOM Usability

The indentured bill of material (BOM) item details and quick-create product or service popups were both optimized and combined into a single popup for consistency and ease of use. At the same time, the import BOM popup and the “make similar to” popup (which imports the similar-to part’s BOM) were optimized and combined into a single popup. As you review and edit the proposal bill of material you can add new items - including the creation of material master records and marking items as similar-to known products with cost history, and complexity. The BOM application context menu (gear menu) has also been cleaned up

Consolidated Material Buy Part Popup Improvements

The popup in the consolidated material list is still vital for reviewing the different purchasing sources. Some usability improvements include:

  • Common header fields in all tabs with similar-to p/n, supply site, estimating source, and the option to retain costs

  • Color coding to indicate which historical PO’s in the chart come from the same vendor as the selected PO vs. from other vendors

  • The option to modify the selected PO as the source from either the chart, by clicking on a bubble, or the list - by row selection

  • The option to select more than one PO in the list and compute the average cost of all selected PO’s as the material adjusted unit cost. Note: if you do this then the material proposal “source document information”, such as source document reference, relate to the first selected PO

Consolidated Material Make Part Popup Improvements

The popup in the consolidated material list is still vital for editing the operation by operation labor cost from the SAP routing or production order history. Some usability improvements to this popup include:

  • Common header fields in all tabs with similar-to p/n, supply site, estimating source and the option to retain costs. Display of total set-up and run (processing) hours in the header

  • Realization factor (or efficiency factor) can now be edited in both the labor cost table, for individual operations, or above the labor cost table, which impacts all operations equally

  • Addition of learning curve factor to the labor cost table

  • The option to cost make parts based on standard cost, which means that labor costs are not computed on an operation by operation basis since there was no routing or production order history. Instead such make parts are costed in a similar way to buy parts, with the standard cost x requirement quantity being estimated to the requirement WBS and product’s cost element

Consolidated Material Performance

In the same way as the bill of material (BOM) mentioned above, the consolidated material list is now also managed on the server, with only the records which are visible to the user plus 1-2 hidden pages being loaded into the user’s browser. This improves responsiveness and reduces the volume of network data traffic and browser memory utilization. It is especially important when bidding for large complex assemblies with 25,000 or more materials since you get around 150 columns of data per material

 

Search, filter, and downloading of the consolidated material list to Excel are now managed in the server with the results returned to the user as before. Scrolling down the list more than 2 pages will result in up to one-second delay as more data is loaded from the server, much like other web-apps which manage large datasets like Google Drive

External BOMs

External bills of material (BOMs) are managed in an external system such as product life-cycle mgt. (PLM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. When you import a BOM from ERP or PLM you have the option to import the BOM as “external” which means you can only edit certain estimating attributes – such as supply site, lead time or estimating method – with engineering attributes such as part number and BOM component quantity being locked down and only editable in the external BOM application. In this way, if you prefer engineering to maintain proposal-specific BOMs in your PLM/ERP system, or you are estimating a new product whose bill of material is being actively developed in parallel to the material cost estimate, you can lock the BOM structure for engineering to maintain while still allowing material cost estimators to edit the costing parameters in iPE

 

While you can re-import (update) an external BOM to reflect the latest configuration in PLM/ERP at any time, automatic scheduled or real-time updates of the iPE proposal BOM from your PLM or ERP system are set-up as part of the implementation, as are PLM-system specific interfaces. We will either build an interface mapping and Java API for your PLM tool as part of the implementation or provide an SAP HANA database table (schema/fields) for you to synchronize your PLM BOMs into

Formula Setup

The formula and parameter set-up apps in iPE were rebuilt as a single combined application to support regression analysis and to clean up the user interface. Now users can:

  • Create formula and assign or create new parameters at the same time

  • Edit base parameter criteria, e.g. what source costs or hours to include in the base, from the formula setup screen

  • Edit user input parameter values, such as hours per drawing, based on the defined parameter scope e.g. by company or by fiscal year, from the formula set-up screen. Note that when parameters are shared between two different formula, changes made to a parameter in one formula will affect the other formula

  • Apply a “training data set” to a regression formula and invoke SAP’s predictive analytics library (PAL) to analyze this data and compute the relationship or formula linking the user’s selected inputs - such as the number of drawings - with the user’s selected outputs - such as total hours to develop the drawings. In this way, rather than manually entering the “hours per drawing” based on the user’s expertise, you can use the power of machine learning to calculate the hours per drawing from your labor history

  • Tag formulae with customer-defined attributes for classification and searching purposes

  • See the estimates where the formula has been used to know the impact of changes to an existing formula

Material Costing Performance

Consolidation and costing of the bill of material, or generation of the consolidated material list, is now 3-4 times faster than it was through various code optimization techniques. There is a greater emphasis on net change which runs extremely fast, in just 1-2 minutes - with all changes that impact cost whether to the BOM or the consolidated list - captured in the “net change log”

Material Costing Strategy

A new concept which fits below estimating method (e.g. “purchased part estimating”) and source (e.g. “purchase order”) for material costing is the “costing strategy” which refers to specific source documents such as purchase orders which fit a particular strategy e.g.:

  • “Best Fit” – the highest confidence PO based on date/qty

  • “Latest” – the most recent PO regardless of qty variance

  • “Closest Qty” – the PO with the closest qty to the required qty

Using this concept, the material cost estimator can now see the best fit, closest quantity, and latest purchase order source documents all from the consolidated material list, and they can edit the source for buy parts directly from the list without even opening the popup

Other Consolidated Material List Improvements

Feedback from material costing users indicated that opening a popup to make changes to the source, estimating strategy and unit cost was time-consuming so we have enhanced the consolidated material list (material cost estimates) with columns for:

  • Selection of other source documents based on meeting specific strategies, such as latest or closest quantity, directly from the list

  • Editing of inflation and quantity adjustment factors from the list, as well as the option to edit the adjusted unit cost directly

  • Marking individual materials to “retain cost in future costing runs” or not, including the option for mass selection

  • Additional columns for display of similar-to material, lot-size, number of set-ups (for make parts), optional proposal phase or line item, number of source documents found, standard deviation of the source document unit costs, latest and closest quantity sources, setup and run time hours for make parts

  • Color coding of the confidence column based on the combination of confidence threshold and unit cost or part value as follows:

    • Green if confidence is above and total cost is below thresholds configured in the estimating method

    • Amber if confidence is below or cost is above the green threshold and at the same time it is not red

    • Red if confidence is below and total cost is above thresholds configured in the estimating method

    • We deliver green thresholds for confidence above 50% on parts below $100, and red below 50% confidence for parts costing $5000 or more

  • Tag values - or custom fields the user adds to a proposal which cascade to the proposal WBS and in turn to detailed estimating records - can now be edited directly from the consolidated list

Pricing

Option to price proposal line items based on:

  • Price-book look-up across multiple catalogs based on part number, customer or proposal-specific hardware or service prices

  • T&M billing or labor pricing rates for time & materials. Fixed price proposals with information displays of total labor cost and total equivalent T&M revenue at proposal line item level

  • Cost-plus a negotiated margin or fee – award or fixed fee and incentive or variable fees. We already support proposal-specific indirect costing or burden rates in iPE

  • Application of discounts, taxes, shipping, freight, or other discounts and surcharges in either $ or % formats

  • Volume-based price-breaks as well as prices which vary over time

 

Part of this enhancement includes a new application to maintain price-books, for labor and material costing and pricing rates based on various criteria such as date, quantity, customer, vendor, proposal, part-number, or labor pool

 

The pricing display in our proposal line item popup has also been enhanced to display a configurable set of pricing elements with sub-totals, instead of fixed rows for gross +/- discount/surcharge + shipping + tax + net price. You can now configure your own pricing table or conditions based on cost, T&M, list, discounts, surcharges, tax, rebates, and royalty or commission payments

Proposal Dates

Option based on proposal type configuration to default the program start date as “immediate” e.g. for spares quotations. The option also to default the program period of performance end date as start + ‘x’ calendar months

 

Then in the proposal line item tab we now automatically default the line item manufacturing completion (or ready for delivery) date to the proposal start date + lead time offset for the material or hardware associated with the line item, if this date falls within the proposal or phase’s period of performance. As a reminder, the line item completion date is used via lead-time offsets down the bill of the material to determine the material cost profile for cash-flow purposes

Remarks

Visual indication if remarks have been entered, downloading of remark text in full to Excel when lists or tables are downloaded, and the option to filter lists based on whether remarks have been input or not

Requirements Mgt

Limits to editing proposal requirements in iPE when managed in an external system such as DOORS

Resource Planning by Period

For professional services, we have enhanced our labor estimating application to support planning by period. In addition to our pre-existing feature - whereby total labor hours or full-time equivalent resources can be “spread” according to a pre-set distribution curve between user input start/end dates – we now support manual planning by period in a grid or table with one row for each resource and one column for each period. Just like Excel, only it is fully integrated with the iPE application supporting workflow, multi-currency, escalation, time-dependent labor rates, parametric based estimation, estimation based on actual history, burdened cost calculation, and more.

 

Rather than limiting you to a single planning-mode, we support:

  • The planning periods can be monthly or weekly 

  • Effort can be planned in hours, work-days or full-time equivalents (FTE)

 

Period durations, i.e. the basis of converting FTE to work efforts, are calculated based on calendars and work shift patterns which can be assigned to sites, companies, departments, or individual resource groups. Holidays are considered, so for example January 2021 which is 21 work-days excluding weekends will actually be 20 days in duration because Jan 1st is a holiday. You can adjust the non-working dates or holidays in your calendars to create calendar month work-durations however you normally plan, e.g. for 20 days each month just add non-working dates as needed to each month of your calendar during system implementation

 

Just as we already do for labor estimates distributed based on a curve, the labor estimates which are manually planned by month or week based on any of the six scenarios listed above are priced and costed according to the labor rates effective at the start of each calendar month, so the rate for a single resource might change during the course of their work plan. We also keep track of the estimated effort by month or week in a separate table to support resource utilization and capacity planning reports.  Finally, we allow rapid switching back and forth between distributed effort vs. manual planning modes, rapid copying of estimates, and options to spread and therefore eliminate the variance between manual planning by period and the total effort for a given resource

Security Access

Option to define authorization access to a group of companies or segment vs. access to documents in all companies or a single company

 

Option to limit access to a document such as a confidential or secret proposal to only specific persons listed in the MY TEAM proposal tab

Similar-to Parts

Previously, to mark a bill of material component as similar to another part with cost history you would enter the similar to material as the part number, the complexity factor, and the description of the new part in the text. Now you have the option to create a unique part number for the new part, with the estimated material and similar to material numbers in two separate fields. While you still have the option to maintain similar-to parts as a text in cases where engineering has not assigned a part number for the new part, it is recommended to create a new material master for the similar to part for reporting consistency. You can also create the new part’s material master directly from the BOM view in iPE with only three user inputs required

Sweep Analysis

When time passes between the proposal submission and contract award date the US Govt. typically requires a new “sweep analysis” to see if any new purchase orders that have been created since the proposal was submitted might cause the estimated material cost to reduce. A new proposal version allows the material estimator to re-cost based on recent purchase orders and then to analyze variances between the two versions to understand where new purchase order prices negatively impact cost. If necessary, a third version with retain cost set for all but the handful of impacted materials can be used to submit a revised cost proposal to the US Govt. If contract award date is populated in the proposal Due By tab, only purchase orders up to this date are considered

Upload BOM from MS Excel

As we already support for proposal line items, WBS elements, requirements, billing plans and risks, users can now upload bills of material (indentured product configurations) from Excel using a specific file format. Proposal BOM nodes are added, deleted or updated based on the combination of node number and an action column, with new materials created automatically from the BOM upload Excel file if they do not already exist. To access the upload template, click on the BOM table toolbar button for upload and select “download a template” in the popup

Usability

Option to start automatically with the user’s last activity from last log-on

User Experience

Some improvements to the overall user experience including a 30% reduction in header/toolbar height allowing more space for lists, and a search box in the top right corner, which searches the current app. Client logos are now from a URL

Version 1.5 - January 2021

 

Additional Cost/Price Review Data Elements

The following measures (report on), and dimensions (report-by), were added to the cost/price review toolset or pivot table:

  • Activity type (from labor costs)

  • Contract line item type (for revenue display)

  • Cost/revenue display option: display of cost, pricing revenue, both cost and revenue, or cost and equivalent T&M revenue (labor hours x billing rates, unadjusted with discounts or surcharges) only

  • Cost – upper and lower limits of cost based on confidence or regression analysis calculations. To use this, refer to Twenty5 to help you set up regression analysis based formulae in iPE

  • Revenue in customer, company or price list currency, based on the line item pricing detail in the proposal line item popup and revenue recognition rules outlined below (see Revenue Recognition Methods)

  • Risk – weighted risk and opportunity impacts (cost or revenue impact x probability) can now be reported on in the cost/price review tool, allowing you to report on risk adjusted costs and margins

  • Supplier country which supplements the SBA code for small business administration spend data reporting

BOM Cascade

You can now cascade data down the BOM hierarchy based on only what you can see in the BOM due to filters. For example, if you filter only to view make parts you can then cascade something such as complexity to the lower-level nodes which are make parts, skipping purchased parts

BOM Cost Roll-up

A fix was applied to the BOM cost roll-up for unit of measure conversions. Now you can have a different base unit of measure, bill of material unit of measure and a third unit of measure on the historical purchase orders used for cost analysis, with conversions between all three at the appropriate times in the costing, consolidation and cost roll-up

Comments Tab

The comments tab was completely reworked with a more modern “Skype-like” user interface showing speech bubbles for historical comments. Users now add or edit comments in a text box at the bottom of the screen as opposed to the top. Users now have the option to edit or delete their own comments, but they cannot edit or delete comments posted by someone else

Consolidated Material Popup

The popup which comes when reviewing consolidated material costs showing the labor cost/historical production orders (for make parts) or purchase order history (for buy parts) has been enhanced, with a consistent information in the top section of the popup across most tabs and will enhancements to the purchase order history display including:

  • Visual indication (by plot colors) of which historical PO was selected as the source unit cost reference, which other historical PO’s are for the same vendor, and which historical PO’s are from other vendors

  • Fixes to the unit of measure conversions from historical POs in different units to the product’s base unit or bill of material unit

  • Option to select multiple historical POs and compute an average cost across this subset. Note: in this case the first PO in the set is stored as the reference purchase order

  • Fixes to the calculation of set-up times (based on new attribute for the number of set-ups in a make part cost estimate), realization factor (the routing efficiency of a given work-center) and complexity (the product complexity or overall cost factor)

Copying a BOE

As well as copying from a template or prior proposal in the proposal SET-UP tab, choosing what to copy from the checkbox list, you can now copy tasks, labor estimates, BOMs, travel estimates and other direct cost estimates from the basis of estimate WORK tab. To do this, select the option to copy from a template or previous basis of estimate or BOE, search for your reference BOE, and select which items (tasks, labor, material, travel etc.) to copy by checking the appropriate boxes. You can include more than one template into the same BOE

 

When you copy an estimate with material costs, for example to copy a “price list” of part number cost estimates based on previous costing runs, the department or company often changes because you are copying from a generic template into a proposal or BOE delivered by one of your specific companies. Re-costing the new estimate used to result in any user adjusted retained costs in the template estimates being reset. This is because the concept of retaining costs – or freezing the previous estimates - only works when the new costed part number/similar to, department or site, make/buy indicator, estimating method and option/non-option combination match the previously retained estimate; in other words costs are not “retained” across different departments or sites. This makes sense when you consider that material cost estimating is generally site-specific, but it is not helpful if you have a template which you want to work in any department or site

 

To avoid this and to ensure that template or retained material costs remain frozen, clear the company and department columns in your template BOE material cost estimates. Now when this template is included in a real BOE and cost consolidated BOM is re-run for all items, the template costs which were retained will remain retained even though the company and/or department were updated

Costing from Legacy Purchase Orders

Tables were added for clients to load legacy (pre-SAP) purchase order history and consider this data for purchased part costing in addition to the SAP purchase orders

Costing Workbench Rates Review

A new tab was created in the cost/price review tool called RATES to display the labor cost and billing rates used in your proposal for each resource group or labor resource category or role. These rates are displayed on a fiscal year basis, though you do not have to maintain new rates for each fiscal year you can select any valid-from date. Proposal-specific labor rates are shown in bold font. This tool allows you to quickly check that all the labor resources used in your proposal are picking up the correct cost and billing rate (with billing rates being applicable to T&M and LOE based contract proposals)

                                   

You can also edit or maintain proposal-specific billing rates, if you are authorized to open the cost/price review tool in “edit” mode and your proposal has a price-book set-up for billing rates, by simply clicking on any of the billing rates in a given resource group and fiscal year combination and changing the rate. The rate is immediately updated but recalculation of the cost/price model and reloading the screen show to show the impact of the new cost or billing rates including where it is included in formula or indirect cost burdens, takes a couple of minutes

Cross-Plant Estimating

As opposed to purchased part estimating which ignores site or department/plant and make-part estimating which only looked in the site or dept/plant of the BOM component, you can now define which estimating sources should be plant or site-specific vs. cross-plant in your configuration. For example, you can limit purchase order history to a specific plant or you can instruct the system to search for routings or production order history across all plants

 

Unlike purchase order estimating, which selects the best-fit historical purchase from one or all plants order based on age and quantity variance - make part estimating still only considers data from one plant at the time. When you activate cross-plant estimating for make parts, routings or production orders are first checked to see if they exist for the plant or site of the BOM component – in which case the history for that specific plant or site is adopted. If no routing or production order history can be found in the BOM component’s plant or site, then the system searches across all plants, adopting data from the single plant with the latest or most recent production order or routing history

Estimate List – Costs

The cost columns in the list of estimates now display the rolled-up labor, material, travel, other direct and indirect costs, including costs from estimates assigned to the WBS elements within each basis of estimate (BOE), as opposed to only those costs assigned directly to the BOE WBS element

Home Page

You may have noticed our new home page, which comes up whenever you start the iPE application without a default start activity. Much nicer to look at as compared to a blue screen!

Labor Estimates

Billing rates can be defined in the price-book application e.g. for time and materials based proposals. We have added columns to the labor estimate for the billing rate and equivalent T&M revenue (hours x billing rate) in both company and customer currency to give you a quick idea of the T&M revenue as you plan your resources in a proposal. Remember that billing rates in the labor estimate are valid for the resource start date, and do not vary by fiscal year within a single resource estimate which crosses multiple fiscal years. Cost and billing rates which change by fiscal year are applied in iPE’s cost model in the cost/price review tool

 

You can also organize the labor estimate rows in your own order using a new “seq” column, and you renumber this column based on the current column sorts. You can also automatically add one resource per task to your labor estimate for faster data input

Labor Planning – Dragging and Mass-Copying Cell Values

Like XL, you can now drag cell values down e.g. to copy down the start or end date in a series of labor resource estimates. You can also click and drag from the middle of the cell to highlight multiple cells and then either press the delete button (to delete all highlighted cells), cut/copy or paste. Values in multiple cells can be pasted. You can also download and upload labor estimates from XL itself

P6 Export for Hours

Added WBS reference to the task-resource download for importing back to Primavera P6, as well as task dates in user-fields, because Primavera P6 schedules its own dates and users wish to see the dates from iPE in Primavera without rescheduling the entire project

Pocket vs. Net Invoice Price

There are fundamentally two kinds of revenue on each proposal line item: the revenue which impacts margin or “pocket price” (which is often in the internal company currency) and the amount paid by the customer inclusive of non-margin impact elements such as sales tax or “net invoice price” (which is often in the customer’s currency). The pricing screen for each line item and the billing milestones have been refined to identify each revenue element from the configurable pricing table more clearly, and to better cascade or roll-up costs, prices and revenues from line item to phase and/or to proposal header (PRICING tab)

Proposal Dates

Proposal line item delivery dates default from the program period of performance, or the phase assigned to the line item. You can also setup automatic defaults for the proposal start date - such as start today for a spares quotation for example - and duration, in months. Line items added to the proposal will automatically default the manufacturing completion date or delivery due date as today + lead time if it falls within the program or assigned phase period of performance

Proposal Specific Rates

You can now maintain proposal or customer-specific costing and billing rates in either the Resource Group set-up application (RATES tab) or in the Price Book application. We also have an easy way to review and edit proposal-specific rates in the cost/price review RATES tab outlined below.

 

Proposal and/or customer-specific costing and billing rates are used before company-wide rates, with the option to maintain a specific price-book in the proposal PRICING and ADVANCED tabs. Proposal-specific rates must be created in a price-book. As with company-wide rates, the most recent proposal or customer-specific price-book costing or billing rate is used which is valid for the cost/price review month in question

Retained Cost

You can now mark or unmark multiple consolidated material costs for retaining costs in a future costing run at once, instead of checking the retained cost box one row at a time. Retaining cost means that the historical reference and unit cost (e.g. PO, routing etc.) is carried forward but any changes in the BOM quantity are still re-applied

Revenue Recognition Methods

You can now report on revenue, as opposed to cashflow, in the cost/price review tool or pivot table. Revenue can be reported over time, by line item (CLIN) or phase, by pricing element (profit, award/incentive fees, discounts, surcharges, freight, tax etc.), based on risk, by end item part number and by proposal version. You can also more easily extract revenue information into views to support external reports such as in SAP Analytics Cloud or Tableau.

 

Revenue is calculated from the proposal line item prices, as opposed to cashflow which is computed from the billing or payment milestones. These revenue recognition rules are available in proposal-type settings:

  • Based on delivery dates with proposal line item revenues time-phased according to the manufacturing completion or delivery due dates, or the delivery schedule which can be maintained within a priced line item. This is accrual-based revenue recognition

  • Based on when labor is planned to be incurred or delivered, at the equivalent T&M billing rates, for labor-based line items. Labor price discounts and surcharges are still considered so the line item revenue is ‘spread’ over time according to the equivalent T&M revenue profile

  • Based on the planned billing milestone payments, or cash-based revenue recognition

  • Based on the cost profile with the total line item revenue distributed over time in the same way the costs are distributed. This models percent complete or long term project-based revenue recognition

  • Based on the estimated sales order creation date, or backlog, which is in turn based on the “award date” field in the proposal, to represent sales based revenue recognition

Revenue risks and opportunities can be included or excluded from revenue reporting in the cost/price review tool with revenues risk/opportunity calculated as impact x probability (weighted impact) and time-phased according to the risk from/to dates

Risk Maintenance

Some enhancements to risk set-up and maintenance, especially the RESPONSE tab, include:

  • A configurable risk policy description

  • Fixes to how weighted and target weighted risk impacts are calculated based on direct input of target impact vs. maintaining a risk mitigation plan with weighted probability and cost impact by mitigation task

  • As mitigation plan tasks are completed the current risk weighted impact is recalibrated to account for the impact of completed mitigation plan tasks

  • Validation to check if the user is entering risk from/to dates outside the assigned WBS planned dates, or is adjusting the current impact to a value which is higher than the target (after mitigation) weighted impact

Risk Reserve

Risk reserve, or the sum of the weighted cost impact of all cost risks (minus the weighted sum of all cost reducing opportunities) has been added to the SAP baseline interface. You can assign a cost element or GL account for risk reserve in your proposal, and transmit the weighted cost impact to this risk reserve account, with or without indirect cost burdening rules applies in iPE, as part of the SAP project/WBS cost baseline interface. You can also select one or more WBS elements within your proposal to assign risk reserve to once it reaches SAP

Security

The authorization concept in iPE was enhanced significantly in this version so that now users who have “company” level access can only access proposals, projects, risks and estimates where they are:

  • Assigned to the main or additional companies in the proposal

  • Or to a segment or group of companies in the proposal

  • Or to the main proposal company or WBS delivery company for access to the estimating app

  • Or where they are the owner (original author, owner or current workflow owner) of a document even if it is not assigned to their company or segment

 

In addition, you can

  • Restrict access to the proposal and its risks and estimates based on checking the box “only people below can access” in the TEAM tab of the proposal

  • And you can restrict access to the proposal, its risks and estimates based on ITAR conditions so that only US-persons can access ITAR related proposal data for example

These two authorization concepts take priority over the company or “own” access level concepts, so that even if the proposal etc. is in your company you will not be able to access it if it is restricted to specific team members, or if it is restricted based on ITAR controls

Tooltips

A lot of field and table column explanations or tooltips were added. Refer to your Twenty5 implementation consultant for a data dictionary listing all the field explanations in iPE. Some data labels were tweaked for consistency across applications

Upload Billing Milestones from XL

The XL template for uploading billing milestones has been enhanced to create new or update existing billing milestones based on the milestone sequence number, including adjustment of either amount or %, date, description and the assigned proposal line item, with better error handling of invalid XL data being uploaded

Upload BOM from XL

Several enhancements to the BOM upload XL template include:

  1. Instructions on what each column means, and which are mandatory

  2. Option to automatically create new product/service masters (material master data) from the BOM XL upload by simply specifying attributes in the XL sheet such as product type or standard cost

  3. Fixes to created by/on in BOM components uploaded from XL

  4. Inheriting BOM data not specified in the XL sheet from parent nodes or from the product/service master similar to when adding BOM components through the user interface. The supply site or plant can be specified in the XL upload, inherited from the product master, or inherited from the BOM parent node

  5. You can upload make parts from XL and automatically import their BOMs from your SAP or PLM tool as part of the upload by noting “import” in the action column of the upload sheet

  6. The system now automatically checks if a product/service master was previously deleted for an uploaded BOM component

  7. Capturing uploaded BOM items from XL in the BOM change log (the basis for ‘net change’ cost consolidation)

  8. Consolidating all the upload errors into a single dialog or email before terminating the upload, so that the user can review and fix all the errors at once instead of one issue at a time

Upload Proposal Line Items from XL

The XL template for uploading proposal line items has been enhanced to create new or update existing proposal priced line items including processing of part number, type, description and in exception cases the unit price. In general, line item costs and prices are calculated within iPE and cannot be uploaded from XL. End items which are bills of material or manufactured in-house parts can be uploaded from XL but the “cost BOM” indicator to import the SAP or PLM BOM must be checked by the user after the upload

Upload WBS from XL

The XL template for uploading WBS elements and tasks has been enhanced to edit/create WBS nodes based the WBS number, to build out the parent-child structure based on the numbering convention (similar to the BOM upload) and to validate dates (calculating duration). WBS costs and calculated columns are not uploaded

User Profile

Some fixes to user preferences including date and number formats, display of last access and checking for duplicate emails/userIDs/badge #’s

WBS Added Data

Columns for level, duration and design-to-cost (DTC) rolled-up hours were added to the WBS table in proposal and cost/price review apps

WBS Drag & Drop

Dragging and dropping a task or WBS within the hierarchy is now easier and more robust include automatic transferal of estimates between BOE’s when a WBS or task is dragged to another BOE, re-assignment of the WBS in each estimate when a task is dragged to another WBS, and checking that dragging and dropping a WBS does not result in structural errors such as a BOE within a BOE or costs which are no longer in a BOE

WBS Validation

WBS settings are now validated in real time including errors if you put a BOE above a BOE, and work-package above a work-package, a control account above a control account, a work-package above a control account, and so on

Version 1.6 - April 2021

 

Billing Milestones

Clearer delineation of revenue or amount the company expects to receive in the company currency, vs. customer payment amount or the amount the customer expects to pay in the customer’s currency. Aside from potentially being in different currencies, money paid directly by the custom to a third party such as a carrier or tax authority would be included in the difference between these two columns.

 

Some enhancements to how billing milestones are uploaded from XL were also delivered in this version, as well as a feature for users to create and save views of the billing milestone tab with their desired column/sort

Cost/Price Review

Cosmetic enhancements to the display of fiscal years (prefix with FY) and fiscal periods (prefix with Per) in the cost/price review tool or pivot-table. The following dimensions were also added to the cost/price review:

  • Similar-to part number

  • Assigned task (for estimated costs by task not just by WBS)

  • Basis of estimate, control account and work-package WBS from the WBS hierarchy based on indicators in the proposal WBS tab

  • Fiscal quarter

Material Master Sync

Invalid HTML characters like %, # or / can be maintained in SAP material numbers because SAPGui does not follow typical web application rules. Unfortunately we discovered this causes downstream impacts especially when you try to open a part’s material master in iPE in a new browser tab with the SAP material ID as part of the browser URL. To prevent this being an issue in future we enhanced the material master sync to replace all these invalid HTML characters with a hyphen in the internal material ID as stored in iPE, without changing the external material ID which the user actually sees in the application and includes in all reports

Record Deletion

Additional validations have been implemented before allowing users to delete a basis of estimate (namely: there should be no costs within that BOE, not be assigned to a proposal line item). In addition, instead of purging bill of material, consolidated material, labor, travel and other direct cost estimates when they are deleted, these records are now ‘marked as deleted’ so they can be undeleted again, if required

Security Enhancements

A number of user authorization and security enhancements were built, as follows:

  1. Linking access to estimates within a proposal based on the access-rules for that proposal, in other words stopping people who are not authorized to see the proposal from seeing its estimates

  2. Mapping of export controlled or ITAR restricted proposal data by adding a field to the proposal for export controlled data and a checkbox in the user profile for ‘US person’. In essence, only US persons can then see proposal data which is subject to US/ITAR control

  3. Broadening the scope of a user’s assigned companies to allow assignment of a site, company or segment and user can then access all proposals (and their estimates) within that site, company or segment. For proposals this includes any site, company or segment listed in the SETUP tab under “other departments involved” whereas for an estimate it applies to the proposal’s primary company/site and the basis of estimate primary company/site only

Fixing an earlier issue whereby clicking on a link which opens a specific proposal or estimate in a new browser tab skipped the authorization check

Site/Department

Fixes to the site or location of make part labor from a routing as compared to the site or department in the bill of material item, to keep them in sync. User can still elect to include labor from another site in a make part cost estimate (make part labor list) if the estimating source is ‘discrete planning’

Table/Pivot Views 

Minor fixes to saving table, pivot table and tree column (expanding row column) views for columns, sort and filters based on user preferences. Fixes to how the bill of material and WBS elements nodes are automatically numbers as a result of these two tree-column sorts