440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

August 27, 1999

04 00069 61 99082701

Ms. Sara B. Nerlove
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard; Room P60
Arlington, VA 22230

Subject: NSF Proposal 9761176
Communication Metrics
Commercial Application: Common Administration

Dear Sally,

Over the past few months, work on developing commercial ties has focused attention on an application for Communication Metrics which may justify consideration by NSF in assessing this proposal.

Common Administration

It offers a major innovation in traditional contract management and enhances emerging efforts in partnering.

Managing contracts is part of commercial and government procurement. In recent years partnering has emerged to avoid historical pitfalls of contracting that cause mistakes, loss, delay, frustration and conflict. Partnering relies on good will which typically is overwhelmed by information overload beginning about the 3rd or 4th month of a project. Common Administration solves that problem with dedicated resources, skills and tools to maintain alignment of information with objectives and requirements using Communication Metrics.

Contract managers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at the San Francisco International Airport, and a local architect on the Moscone Convention Center project in San Francisco, point out that Communication Metrics should be specified as a program of Common Administration that enhances partnering, so that the cost is budgeted in the administration of the project, similar to specifying a specialized form of planning, called CPM, also, PERT, in defense and aerospace work. Typically, contractors will not budget nor adequately perform planning unless the government or developer specifies that it be paid as a work item.

CPM and PERT relate to cost and schedule control.

Communication Metrics applies similar control to communication.

The NSF proposal points out that, since communication is a predicate to action, adding a system of metrics saves more money than do cost and schedule control. Since it is newer, however, it is less accepted, in that generally managers feel they are good communicators and don't need this support. They sense being overwhelmed by too much information, but have no experience that a commercial solution is available, and so deny needing help. Indeed, the matter is quite emotional because of false promises over the past 20 years of the PC revolution.

NSF support would assist agencies and owner/developers by lending credibility and cost sharing to specify a program of Common Administration under the aegis of research. This approach, it is believed, would make it easier to obtain approval for using Communication Metrics in order to develop a longer record of experience showing cost savings.

The deliverable to NSF would be procedures, scope of services, skill sets and curriculum for training and applying Common Administration, as an independent agent to manage communications on a project. Similar to hiring a surveyor for managing dimensional space on a construction project, Common Administration manages "knowledge space" in the project arena. This offers a viable commercial path for a Phase II effort. Follow on publication of findings from the NSF project, in a commercial book, would add market visibility to tools and practices of Communication Metrics NSF support could tip the scales enough to introduce a powerful new work practice in time to meet the challenge of a new millennium.



Rod Welch