Innovation is one of Technomics’ corporate values (along with Integrity, Trust, Teamwork and Fun).  Most organizations say that they are innovative or they seek to be.  At Technomics, however, we don’t just say we are innovative.  We are innovative.  This is evidenced by the quality client recognition we regularly receive and our winning 50% of the Paper Awards at this year’s Annual International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association (ICEAA) workshop (33% last year and 17% for each of the two years prior).  We also recognize that true innovation cannot be an afterthought, but is something that requires constant effort.

“Adaptation, innovation, and being open to changing course based on guidance are all vital to success. This is something that was only reinforced throughout this process.”
Justin Cooper, Associate

Our corporate vision is to raise community of practice standards through honest, innovative analysis that produces realistic answers, advances the state-of-the-art and serves as a benchmark for excellence. To promote constant investigation of the state-of-the-art and to ensure its advancement, we announced our inaugural Technomics Research Competition (“TRC”) in October 2018 during Employee Ownership Month.

The competition was open to all Technomicians and the focus was for teams to deliver innovative, tailorable tools and/or techniques that one could use to perform credible, defensible analyses. Furthermore, teams could not use ongoing research or work for a client nor adapt ongoing research for their project. Although technical breakthrough is the prime objective, another key objective is the promotion of teamwork and effective collaboration.  With the stage set, senior leaders, which included the CEO himself, the Technical Director, and Technomics’ most seasoned Practice Area Director, were prepared to guide and challenge all participants through multiple gate reviews so that all teams could put their best foot forward when the competition ended. At the end of the competition, up to three teams could win a cash prize of $10,000 each.

All-in-all, seven teams, comprised of 19 total Technomicians, entered into the TRC arena. Of the 19 that started the competition, 15 finished the race. Each team faced their own challenges along the way. Two teams changed the scope of their initial research and three other teams faced circumstances that didn’t permit them to finish.

The Winners

Through it, three teams emerged victorious! Congratulations to the winning teams:

  • Application of Machine Learning to Cost Estimating and Analysis - Brian Flynn, Emily Hagerty, and Orly Olbum
  • Technomics Technical Excellence Standards for R - Rhys Bergeron and Justin Cooper
  • Cloud Costing Capabilities - Emily Hagerty, Orly Olbum, and Brian Flynn

Orly Olbum, Brian Flynn, and Emily Hagerty were the only team with two entries into the TRC. As the proof is in the pudding, they put considerable efforts into devising their two research proposals. Both of which won! Kudos to your team as well as to Justin and Rhys.

Application of Machine Learning to Cost Estimating and Analysis

Brian, Emily, and Orly understand that data is only getting bigger and more accessible. As the quantity of data increases, organizations that rely on manual data analysis and visualization methods will fall behind. Unfortunately, the discipline of defense cost analysis is not immune to this reality. The cost community has been slow in adopting techniques that have been shown in other fields to outperform both expert opinion and traditional modeling.

Too often only a small subset of available information is employed in cost analysis, and even then only in piecemeal fashion, rather than holistically. The result of their research was the creation of a Machine Learning (“ML”) decision tree that demonstrated its worth in estimating the ship end for over two dozen vessels used primarily to support Marine Corps sea lift requirements. The ML routine has many potential applications throughout the national security environment. Technomics looks forward to seeing how this tool can grow and adapt to additional needs in our industry.

Technomics Technical Excellence Standards for R

Rhys Bergeron and Justin Cooper identified a challenge that many companies face - how to effectively share strategies, techniques, and solutions internally. They sought to provide a framework and a toolkit to better equip Technomicians with best practices and resources pertaining to data science that can guide them to better decisions, faster (we must practice what we preach, after all!). In a well-defined and structured manner, they laid out Technomics Technical Excellence Standards (TTES) for R. Their deliverables guide users to leverage the most efficient and effective data science approaches.

“It was a worthwhile experience working with Justin on an idea and seeing it come to fruition with the help of Al, Rick, and Brian. I look forward to participating in the TRC again.”
Rhys Bergeron, Associate

They created “R Best Practices” and an “R Cookbook” that prescribes proper scripting, instructions, and helpful, standardized code snippets. These internal tools create a network for Technomicians to apply data science methods and techniques that meet Technomics’ high standards and share knowledge in a collaborative environment. The tools are aimed at creating more efficient paths for analysis and changing the “business as usual” approach that is currently untenable within the modern data science world. These web pages will be maintained and built up within the Technomics community by Technomicians, spearheaded by Rhys Bergeron and Justin Cooper.

Cloud Costing Capabilities

Emily, Orly, and Brian’s efforts leverage knowledge about cloud to develop a suite of tools to help federal agencies better plan for cloud migration and acquisition and create credible, defensible cost estimates for these activities. The suite of tools provides the DoD as well as other federal agencies a framework for determining cloud migration and sustainment requirements. Furthermore, it provides a template to calculate the associated costs.

Their research resulted in the following items:

  1. The Technomics Cloud Cost Estimating Guide – this guide explores important background information about the cloud and provides details for determining the best path forward for cloud migration;
  2. The Process Breakdown Structure (PBS) - a framework that takes account of legacy systems and a guideline for migrating to the cloud; and
  3. A Cost Analysis Requirements Document (CARD) Template– this document includes elements across Investment and Sustainment prescribing units of measurement and methodology for cost estimating.
“The TRC allowed me to continue to work with two incredible analysts, and provided us an opportunity to come up with a suite of tools and capabilities that will help the federal government solve an important problem.”
Orly Olbum, Senior Associate

Along with the expertise of the Technomics cloud team, these tools can provide any federal agency with the background and guidance required to successfully migrate to and maintain a cloud environment.

Closing Thoughts

We truly appreciate everyone who contributed to the TRC in any capacity. While we are competitive, as employee owners we want to raise the benchmark for excellence through teamwork, collaboration, integrity, innovation, and fun.

“In the end, the team’s favorite takeaway was witnessing first-hand the success that comes from dedicating time and energy to something they were passionate about – and this was not only within the team, but also reinforced by the judges. Being exposed to the extensive experience, thought processes, and collaboration of Al, Rick, and Brian was truly a special opportunity and learning experience. This inquisitive spirit, teamwork, and collaboration helped the team deliver two successful CRC projects.”
Emily Hagerty, Project Manager

The competition provided each contributor the opportunity to break new ground and grow themselves in numerous ways. The offseason is short though – proposals for the second annual TRC are due December 6. Stay tuned to see the exciting tools the second installment produces!