The Proposal Development Process (PDP) is a highly competitive process critical to generating revenue for government contractors. The Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) process is one of many sub-processes of the PDP conducted in response to Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) from government agencies. AoA develops complex IT solutions covering a wide range of technologies to meet requirements in the RFP. The 24 tasks within AoA can be categorized into the following categories: decision making (19.2%), experience recall (19.2%), networking (26.4%), and labor intensive (35.2%). Solutions architects conducting the AoA process need detailed information at each step in the process to come to defensible conclusions in their AoA. Issues with the process include a lack of readily available information due to inefficiencies in information management, complexities and availability of data for critical decisions, and in the coordination of process steps. These inefficiencies provide an opportunity to decrease the mean time required for AoA by 33% and its variability by 25% while maintaining or increasing AoA quality.
Based on detailed analysis of the process and the task categories, design alternatives for information management are considered, such as: a file management system (e.g. Intravation Inc. and Octant Inc.), and a content management system (e.g. EMC Inc). These systems allow for collaboration and information sharing in AoA, resulting in a decrease in the labor-intensive research time and networking time and also an increase in AoA decision quality. Added value alternatives are also considered, including optimizing staffing levels for the AoA process and modifying the current process model to reduce process inefficiencies. Any of the alternative solutions may be coupled with the added value alternatives.
A Monte Carlo discrete-event simulation is built using Arena to model the current AoA process. The simulation models each of the tasks within four task categories of AoA as a function with parameters representing time, cost and quality. A significant part of the model represents intermediate decision-making required to select subsequent processes and their parameters. The model is used to compare each of the alternatives to show their respective effects on the mean and variability of the AoA process time required. Effects on quality are analyzed via validated metrics: scalability, integrability, usability, tailorability, and likelihood of adoption. The results of the simulation and analysis are compared via a stakeholder-validated utility function, yielding an overall utility for each alternative.
Preliminary results of the simulation running for 1000 replications in each configuration show that the file management alternatives reduce the average time necessary for AoA by 16.9 +/- 2.9% (though their effects on AoA quality differ), and the content management system reduces the average time by 23.2 +/- 2.6%. Optimizing staffing levels in the process also yields an average time reduction of 33.6 +/- 2.1%. Higher integrability, usability, and likelihood of adoption of the content management system yield a higher utility score for that alternative. The combination of altering staffing levels and implementing a content management system has the highest overall utility and that combination of alternatives is therefore recommended.