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Program Management Tool

NASA’s Ames Research Center offers for license its Program Management Tool (PMT) software, an advanced application that helps acquire and make the best use of consistent, timely, relevant business information—leading to better project and program decisions and plans. Originally developed to manage all the projects in one of its $500+ million research and development programs, PMT is designed to run on top of Ames’s NETMARK technology—a unique innovation designed to seamlessly integrate structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data and documents across enterprise organizations. PMT, in conjunction with NETMARK, acts as the nervous system of complex organizations, enabling seamless information transmission between programs, enhancing efficiency, and aiding proactive decision-making. The application is simple to use, with a user interface that utilizes standard business documents—creating a friendly, familiar environment to keep track of project goals, risks, milestones, and deliverables, and helping to appropriately allocate resources.

For more information about this licensing/development opportunity, please contact:

Technology Partnerships Office
NASA's Ames Research Center
http://www.nasa.gov/ames-partnerships

 

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Benefits

  • Efficient: Rapidly sends vital information from program operations to decision-making authorities and back
  • Productive: Enables program plans to move ahead quickly, consistently, and efficiently
  • Cost effective: Dramatically reduces labor-intensive data gathering and reporting efforts, and their associated costs, such as those related to Earned Value Management reporting
  • Timely: Helps program managers react proactively to changes in the program or business environment
  • User-friendly: Allows data input and output using standard electronic business documents such as word processing files, spreadsheets, and presentationsÑcreating a familiar, easy-to-use front-end user environment
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Applications

  • Enterprise knowledge management applications
  • Document and content management systems
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Technology Details

Many organizations face complex, hierarchical program and management structures, each with its own budget, requirements, milestones, and goals. The job of defining, managing, and tracking program goals, schedules, and resources becomes increasingly complex as organizations become more distributed and use different reporting systems. NASA's PMT addresses these challenges by transferring data seamlessly between managers using different data views, helping to eliminate data discrepancies and providing a way to make decision-impacting information consistent and timely. Built on industry standards like eXtensible Markup Language (XML), this advanced application integrates heterogeneous information and composes analyses and reports from distributed sources. This results in truly relevant connections between multiple sources across the organization—saving time and resources, and significantly improving efficiency.


How it works

The PMT approach manages information using open and interoperable standards (i.e., XML) but without requiring end users to save or convert their data to any particular format. Enterprise information is taken directly from the business documents in which it is created (e.g., word processing documents, spreadsheets, etc.) and converted automatically to XML for storage, management, and integration. The information then is composed and formatted for output to business documents and applications as needed for end applications. End users can request the information output in any number of formats that best suit their needs, such as word processing documents, spreadsheets, pie charts, graphs, tables, and more. 

The back-end information integration component of the process is based on Ames’s NETMARK technology, which utilizes XML to convert myriad data formats into one universal data type that PMT repackages as end users need to view specific business information. Learn more about NETMARK here.

PMT supports all essential project and program management activities and corresponding documents, including:

  • Creating and monitoring annual task plans
  • Reporting automatically on technical, schedule, management, and budget statuses, in various user-specified formats
  • Creating earned value management (EVM) reports using familiar spreadsheets
  • Tracking budget phasing plans
  • Analyzing program risks and mitigation strategies
  • Reporting and evaluating project life cycle costs
  • Accessing convenient aggregated views

End users simply take business documents and reports that they use regularly and input them into the PMT system, typically requiring only a simple drag-and-drop into the PMT interface. NETMARK automatically converts the data to XML for storage. This enables PMT to automatically generate aggregated documents from any number of input files from multiple programs.

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Why it is better

PMT, in conjunction with NETMARK, offers several key distinctions from other information integration and management tools available:

First, the use of standardized business documents as a user interface enables organizations to begin using PMT almost immediately, with no learning curve necessary for a new data input system. PMT also eliminates the need for information administration, automating the communication of information with standard templates. In addition, this breakthrough enables transparency up and down the management chain because project managers can monitor how their project information is being summarized in the diversity of presentations and documents used by program managers. Program managers can also see more detailed project information, beyond the project summaries that they may normally receive. This approach eliminates discrepancies between multiple documents that use the same project information, because multiple project documents are automatically created from the XML database.

Second, the use of schema-less XML data integration (using NETMARK) eliminates the need for end users to save data as a certain file type or for organizations to hire administrators to convert data to specific formats. Instead, database administration is eliminated because NETMARK provides a universal data type from which all business information can be aggregated.

Finally, PMT is based on back-end XML integration, an open standard that makes the system interoperable with existing information and project management systems. This can help large organizations significantly reduce the cost and time associated with entering the same data multiple times into different systems.

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Key features

PMT includes a library of dozens of predefined report templates, as well as the ability to develop new templates for use within an organization. The predefined templates capture and report on a variety of program and project management information, including:

  • Project dashboards
  • Work breakdown structures (WBS)
  • Phasing plans
  • Project schedules, task plans, milestones and deliverable tracking
  • Gantt charts
  • Project risk assessments
  • Project financial status reports
  • Project cost/schedule variance trend reports
  • Quad charts
  • Cost and schedule performance indices (CPI/SPI)
  • Earned value management (EVM) reports
  • Risk and issue tracking and analyses
  • Budgets, cost estimates, and integrated financial data (actuals)
  • Full cost summaries
  • Monthly status reports
  • Stoplight and exception reports
phase 1 dashboard screenshot
Figure 1: Project dashboards enable a top-down view of key project metrics.



Phase 1 project schedule screenshot
Figure 2: Project schedules can be tracked in a user-friendly spreadsheet environment, using the familiar Gantt chart format.



Phase 1 risk assessment screenshot

costs screenshot
Figure 3: Risk assessments are straightforward with PMT’s predefined, visual risk matrix report template.



Phase 1 cost/schedule variance trends screenshot
Figure 4: Financial data can be seamlessly integrated from the enterprise financial system. Variations in cost and schedule can be analyzed visually.


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Technology specifications

PMT is built on NASA’s NETMARK schema-less database technology. Please refer to the NETMARK system requirements technical specifications for more information.

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Patents

NASA is seeking patent protection for this technology.

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Publications

Success story


Published papers


Video

"Program Management Tool: A User-Friendly Program, Project, and Portfolio Management Tool"—Overview and sample screens (approx. 9 minutes)


Related technologies

  • NETMARK: An advanced XML database integration technique for managing unstructured documents
    —PMT runs of top of Ames’s NETMARK technology, therefore organizations interested in licensing PMT will also need to license NETMARK. Learn more about NETMARK here.
  • Context-Based Configuration Management Tool:  A decision and knowledge management system for creating and managing soft enterprise assets such as estimates, agreements, goals, policies, strategies, plans, and more.

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Commercial Opportunity

This technology is part of NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to inquire about the licensing possibilities for the PMT technology (ARC-14950-1; ARC-14950-2; ARC-15155-1; and ARC-16206-1) for commercial applications.

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For More Information

For more information about this licensing/development opportunity, please contact:

Technology Partnerships Office
NASA's Ames Research Center
http://www.nasa.gov/ames-partnerships



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This technology is owned by NASA's Ames Research Center
ARC-14950 (AR-0018)