Safran North America Successfully Normalizes Data from Multiple Project Scheduling Tools Using New International Standard

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Software manufacturer builds line of applications to export and normalize data regardless of source.

Safran North America LLC

Normalizing schedule data is important...The Department of Defense will more effectively be able to view essential project performance information across projects..avoiding risks that lead to cost overruns and project completion delays.

Safran North America (SNA), one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of project management applications, announced today that it had successfully completed a proof of concept before U.S. Government agency personnel using the international UN/CEFACT XML standard to export detailed scheduling data from Microsoft® Project, Oracle Primavera P6 and Deltek Open Plan Professional. As part of the effort SNA converted data into a normalized repository using its Envision export and import line of products to allow detailed analysis and management of project schedule performance. In addition, Safran North America demonstrated a generic exporter in Microsoft® Excel that leverages Safran North America’s Envision engine to create a new XML file that can be applied to any other legacy scheduling application data.

SNA’s announcement follows its successful live demonstration of the initial solution held before representatives of private industry, federal contractors, the Department of Defense and federal agencies at the Integrated Program Management Conference held in Bethesda, Maryland, in November 2011. At that conference SNA successfully demonstrated the export of both a Microsoft® Project and a Deltek Open Plan Professional schedule file into the UN/CEFACT XML and the subsequent import of the normalized scheduling information into a central repository tied to earned value, risk and financial information that provided a comprehensive and integrated analysis of project performance. SNA then took the schedule data that had originated from Open Plan Professional and successfully imported it into Microsoft® Project without loss of schedule accuracy or fidelity.

The initiative for the UN/CEFACT XML originated from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Integrated Digital Environment (IDE) 1997 policy. At that time DoD relied on a series of proprietary files in order to perform its oversight responsibility in ensuring that public projects were performing as contractually required. As part of the reinventing government initiative under the Clinton Administration, private industry took ownership of developing project management best business practices such as earned value and project schedule management. Thus, standardized metrics and measures of success were identified across governmental, organizational and corporate cultures.

Initially DoD developed and issued an ANSI X12 standard for earned value management (EVM) but no agreement was reached to normalize schedule planning and execution information across disparate proprietary software applications. Interim attempts since 1997 were met both by industry skepticism and resistance from software vendors.

Beginning in 2010 the National Defense Industrial Association’s Program Management Systems Committee (NDIA PMSC) sought to break the deadlock. After two years of working in cooperation with major government contractors and agencies in the U.S. Department of Defense to determine the feasibility of issuing an XML standard for project schedule data, a consensus was reached and the standard accepted by DoD’s Performance Assessments and Root Cause Analyses (PARCA) office. PARCA has now officially published a policy letter establishing the new XML as the means of submitting project performance data for new defense contracts.    

Safran North America had long supported open systems initiatives by developing imports and exports with Microsoft® Project, Oracle Primavera P6 and Artemis data with its Safran and Proteus line of products. Safran took the initiative to assist industry in proving out the viability of the XML file and the fidelity of the data after the export and import process. The result was Envision Xporter and Envision Mporter.

Nicholas Pisano, CEO of Safran North America commented on his company’s achievement: “Normalizing scheduling data is important for all of the reasons that any kind of generic solution is applied, especially in using high tech: it improves the productivity of personnel since they no longer have to concern themselves with the mouse clicks associated a specific piece of software. It also breaks down the technological barriers associated with companies that would otherwise engage in cooperative efforts from being hampered by the proprietary software that they purchased to address a specific need. For the taxpayer, it saves the government money in its essential oversight role in ensuring that the public’s money is being well spent, since analysts and project management teams no longer need to acquire multiple applications with the attendant administrative and training burdens that they impose. The Department of Defense will more effectively be able to view essential project performance information across projects and organizations to further identify with their industry partner the best means of avoiding risks that lead to cost overruns and project completion delays.”

Combined with its Proteus Envision® solution which also includes normalized solutions for earned value and financial performance information, companies and government agencies will now have the ability to integrate data across a range of otherwise stove-piped systems, improving data fidelity and accuracy in reconciling work planning, scheduling and performance management systems. Its advantage against traditional custom coded and data mining systems is its COT/NDI approach, which allows for rapid configuration and deployment.

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Nicholas Pisano

Donna Mandigo
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