This chapter describes the manner in which the tools and software were identified, classified, and profiled. It is intended to help users understand the approach, assumptions, and definitions employed in compiling this information.
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This research focused (although not exclusively) on the software systems and tools that met the following criteria:
A three-step process was used to evaluate existing software systems and tools.
Using literature searches and information provided by the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), Research Triangle Institute (RTI)collected preliminary information on software systems and tools. Some of the products included in this report were previously identified and profiled in a study "DOE/SNL/EPA Joint Effort to Develop Waste Minimization Techniques for DOE R&D Laboratories" prepared by RTI for the Sandia National Laboratories. In addition, RTI worked with public (EPA, DOE, Department of Defense) and private ( e.g., professional associations including the American Association of Cost Engineering [AACE], Institute of Management Accountants[IMA], and the Environmental Health and Safety Software Development Group [EH&S],academia, and industry experts) sources to identify and collect existing software systems and tools from both public sources and private software vendors.
Since the decision-support products identified and collected were developed to address a range of areas, they were classified into broad groups, by application. The following section discusses the classification of the products.
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Project Management is the management of time, material, personnel, and costs to complete a project in an orderly and economical manner and meet established objectives of time, cost, and technical results. Three major phases of a project are plan, schedule, and control (Spiner, 1989).
The guide provides information on a number of different types of software systems and tools that have been developed by private organizations, computer software vendors, and government agencies. These include software systems designed to aid decision-makers in developing and analyzing information to support areas of project management (e.g., project cost estimation, schedule control, and cost control). Other systems are for environmental management and tracking and assist in the proper management of environmental compliance issues(e.g., waste tracking and reporting, organizational health and safety). Also covered in the guide are methodologies, software systems, and case studies that provide information on particular aspects of environmental management or analysis. These include software and tools for financial analysis, life-cycle costing (LCC) (including or excluding social costs), impact analysis, and waste reduction.
The products are divided into the following eight classes, each covering a particular aspect of project management and/or environmental management:
Software systems in Classes 1, 2, 3, and 5 address various aspects of project management-cost estimation, scheduling, cost control, and contingency analysis. Software and tools covered in Classes 6, 7, and 8 address environmental cost analysis and management. They do not function as traditional project management software systems or tools.
Generic risk assessment covers software systems that compute statistical uncertainties associated with static mathematical models defined for various areas (e.g., environmental impacts, costs, etc.). On the other hand, the systems in the second category have been tailored to address specific areas. Monte Carlo simulation is an approach that many risk analysis tools employ, although one of the tools covered has "Monte Carlo" as its trade name.
These eight classes cover the management and decision-support products that play important roles in the business and Federal facility decision-making and management process. Many of the products in Classes 6, 7, and 8 are project or facility specific, but the methodologies employed are often transferable to other applications with appropriate modifications. Other equally important tool classes, such as accounting systems, are not covered. However, two products that employ ABC, an innovative accounting approach, are included in the section on scheduling and cost control/analysis. The product profiles provide information on general characteristics of each system and the environmental information they currently include (or potentially can include). Abbreviated profiles of some software systems and tools that were not profiled in the standard format can be found at the end of relevant subsections. These were abbreviated due to time constraints or lack of adequate information on the nature of the product.
Profiles of the software and tools in Classes 1-5 have the same format as do 6-8, because broad similarities are found within the groups.
Efforts were made to keep the classification of the software and tools as distinct as possible. However, there are areas of overlap. For example, HCAS(Historical Cost Analysis System) can assist in the cost estimation process but is covered in the section on waste reduction products. Similarly some cost-estimating software systems such as Composer Gold can be used to estimate environmental costs but have not been included in the waste reduction section. The list of software and tools after the Table of Contents and lists at the beginning of each section in Chapter 4 - Profiles of Software Systems and Tools contain some information on software and tools covered elsewhere that could have been placed in those sections as well.
The basic profiling plan employed for all the software systems and tools was similar, with some minor differences. The profiling plans employed for some classes of products were different from others; they have different characteristics and applications. The following section discusses the objectives and significance of the profile categories that were selected.
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The tools and software were profiled in a specific format against different information categories.
The profiles provide an overview of the software systems and tools and indicate the extent to which they currently consider environmental information. The profiles were prepared in a standard reporting format, including the information on general software and tool characteristics, the life-cycle stages covered, the types of costs considered, the method of cost estimation, and the ability of the system to include environmental information. Profile categories were developed to cover general and environmental information for each product. The following sections list, discuss, and (where applicable) define the different information categories. This discussion does not display the sequence in which the information categories appear in the profiles. Table 2-1 Profile Information, below, presents the information included in the profiles.
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|General profile information||Developers, purpose and/or organization for which the tool or software was developed|
|Clients/intended audience and current use (where available)|
|Development date and updates|
|Contact information and the basis for information|
|Cost information, system requirements (if software based) and contents (in Classes 6-8 only)|
|Elements of control or application areas||Elements of control: six elements of control for
products in Classes 1-5
Application areas: six specific areas defined for Classes 6-8
|Summary of methodology/software||Information on the features and functions of the tool/software|
|Life-cycle stages covered||Review of the life-cycle stages that the tool/software is designed to cover. Four life-cycle stages are defined: raw material acquisition, manufacturing, use/reuse/maintenance, and waste management/recycling|
|Types of costs considered||Review of the costs included (and that can be included) in the tool/software. Four cost categories are defined: conventional, potentially hidden, contingent, and external|
|Method of cost estimation||Discussion (where applicable) of the method(s) employed for cost estimation|
|Generation of financial indicators||Information on financial indicators that the tool/software calculates (or helps calculate). Five indicators are identified, including a category called "other": net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), payback period, and benefit cost ratio.|
|Attributes and limitations||General attributes and limitations of the products. Where possible, specific references are made to the ability of the product to include environmental information|
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Each profile includes general information as listed above in Table 2-1 Profile Information. Potential user scan determine whether these products fall within acceptable price ranges and whether they have the necessary hardware and software to use them.
Information on current use is included whenever it could be obtained from the developers or vendors. In the case of commercial products, this information often indicates the target audience and areas in which vendors have the maximum experience. Additionally, it indicates the maturity and acceptance of the tool or software in the market.
The purpose for development provides important information on the nature of products and their ability to be applied in areas different from the original intent. For example, some of the tools covered are methodologies developed for specific projects or facilities. These cannot be applied "as is" in alternative scenarios. Also, unlike commercial products, no formal user-support is offered. Although most systems for project management (cost estimation, scheduling, cost control) covered in this guide are developed for commercial purposes, many are developed to address specific areas or industries.
The basis of evaluation of each product indicates the scope and limitations product evaluation. For instance, as mentioned previously, most of the software systems were evaluated by assessing information brochures and demonstration disks, rather than by actually testing the software. Most of the financial analysis, LCC and impact analysis, and waste reduction product profiles were developed by updating and appending profiles that had been prepared in a previous RTI study conducted for the Sandia National Laboratories (Weitz et al.,1994).
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The application provides information about the areas in which the software and tools can be applied and the extent to which environmental information can be included in the analysis.
The application of each product provides information about the areas in which the product can be applied and the extent to which environmental information can be included in the analysis. The products in Classes6-8-Financial Analysis, Environmental LCC and Impact Analysis, and Waste Reduction-contain a list of six applications:
When the products cover these areas, the relevant applications are check-marked. These areas help define the specific utility and applications of the products in these classes. Most of the software and tools in the first five classes do not address these areas, so it was appropriate to exclude this section in their profiles.
The applications of the products in the first five classes-Cost Estimating, Scheduling and Cost Control/Analysis, Risk Assessment and Contingency Analysis; Environmental Management and Regulatory Compliance; and Remediation Projects-are further defined in a separate category using six elements of control:
These areas are check-marked when they qualify as part of the attributes of the software system or tool. These elements of control specifically pertain to project management and are not addressed by the products in the last three classes. Therefore, this category was excluded from those profiles. Table 2-2 Elements of Control , below, explains each of the six elements of control.
|Resource control||Involves assigning, managing, and optimizing resource use in the project. Resources are labor, materials, energy, etc.|
|Cost control||Includes minimizing costs and keeping expenditures within budget. A tool for cost control needs to perform analyses beyond just tracking and reporting costs, for example, identifying the cause of deviance from the plan and assisting in corrective action.|
|Estimating control||Includes estimating conceptual or detailed project costs. The product has to have features beyond providing a template for entering project costs, such as supporting the use of a standard cost estimation methodology. Cost-estimating software systems or tools typically cover aspects of scope control as well.|
|Schedule control||Involves keeping the project on schedule, by generating a detailed schedule with various options for analyzing effects of changes and generating options for rectifying deviations from the plan.|
|Scope control||Addresses managing the size of the project, while breaking it down to controllable elements. Scope is the range or extent of a concept and room or opportunity for freedom of action. It is defined by words, drawings, and estimates (Parker, 1994). Scope control is achieved by identifying all requirements and generating a baseline document to record them. Scope control sets the baseline for cost, time (schedule), and technical (performance) requirements (Parker, 1994).|
|Risk control||Includes not only the ability to calculate risk, but also options on how risk elements can be controlled or minimized. Many risk analysis software systems or tools help in risk calculation and not in dynamic control of project risks|
Developed in conjunction with AACE International, 1995. Additional information was derived from Parker (1994).
Control implies the ability to manage and manipulate available data and information. Some software systems or tools may indirectly or passively assist in control. Dynamic and passive control are differentiated.
Control is a process or a systematic series of actions directed toward some end. Control can be defined in two ways: to check or verify by comparison with a duplicate register or standard or to regulate, exercise authority over, direct, command, or take corrective action (Parker, 1994). Control implies the ability to manage and manipulate available data and information. Some software systems or tools may indirectly or passively assist in control.
Passive control systems merely report actuals and do not provide a mechanism for "controlling" these items or facilitating corrective action. Dynamic control systems additionally assist in analyzing options and methods that improve efficiency and identify or rectify problems. This guide recognizes only dynamic control elements. For example, a cost-estimating software system can assist in estimating and scope control. It may only passively assist in resource and cost control. That is, the information is available for use, but the system itself may not have functions to assist in assigning or optimizing resource use or in generating choices for minimizing costs. Some waste minimization software systems can assist in monitoring project progress(performance against plan) but will not assist in generating options on how performance may be improved.
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This section of the profiles summarizes the functions and features of a software system or the methodology employed in a tool. Potential users of the software or tools can get a perspective on the scope and features of the products in relation to their own requirements. In addition, the products in the first five classes contain categories for listing the size and complexity of projects, compatible systems offered, and nonquantifiable information. Since many of the products covered in the last three classes are not software based or not designed for project management, these categories would not be as useful for them. Thus, they were not included in their profiles.
The category detailing size and complexity of projects is meant to signify the ability of the system to accommodate different project types and designs as well as changes in complexity and scope of requirements of users. Other compatible systems offered, for example, in modularly designed systems, give information on whether the software can be "custom-built" according to users' requirements. The section on nonquantifiable information primarily pertains to the annotation capability or the ability to include non-quantitative factors as part of the analysis. This capability is useful in detailing project notes, such as sources of cost data and methodology.
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The terms "life-cycle" and LCC have many different definitions and interpretations. Table 2-3 Life-Cycle Stages , below, explains our definitions of the four life-cycle stages considered, in accordance with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) definitions.
|Raw material acquisition||This stage refers to the costs and impacts associated with the extraction and processing of raw materials. For example, harvesting trees for wood, or mining for coal. This term is often confused with procurement or buying of raw materials for use in a project, facility, or process.|
|Manufacturing||This includes the costs and impacts associated with the manufacture of a product, for example, manufacture of a chemical or an automobile tire.|
|Use/reuse/ maintenance||This refers to costs and impacts associated with use/reuse/maintenance of a product in a facility, or by private users through the useful life of the product. For example, the use of chemicals in a facility or the use of an automobile tire.|
|Waste management/ recycling||This is the final stage in the life-cycle of a product, when it has to be disposed of, or recycled. These activities will also have associated costs and impacts. For example, a chemical solvent may be recycled for reuse in the same or different process. An automobile tire may be land filled, used to form part of an artificial reef, etc.|
A variety of definitions for the term "life-cycle" exist. Industry definitions often have an internal corporate focus.
Please see Appendix A - Glossary of Terms for definitions of LCC, LCC analysis, and LCA. For the purpose of this guide, a broader definition of LCC, including social costs, is assumed. However, all the tools and software covered do not employ this definition, and many just include private or internal costs.
Although the topic is covered in all the tool and software profiles, it is recognized that LCC or LCA is outside the scope of many products. Also, the use of LCC or LCA may not be useful or relevant in every case. For example, the only life-cycle stages of importance for the scheduling software systems are those that occur during the course of the project and impinge on project schedule and costs. LCA (by definition) falls outside the scope of these systems. LCC is intended to facilitate more intelligent decision-making by analyzing costs over the entire life cycle of a system (or material). Conceivably, products that are not used for cost management or cost estimating may not need to include all this information. EPA has brought out introductory information for Federal facility managers on LCA in "A Primer for Applying Life Cycle and Total Cost Assessment Concepts," EPA 300-B-95-008.
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Most products are designed to consider conventional costs, but other hidden and liability costs may be as crucial.
The purpose of this category is to discuss the nature of the coverage of various conventional and environmental costs by the software systems and tools. In all cases, the objective is to determine what the product suggests users need to include (e.g., through predefined formats) and whether users can modify the software system or tool to make the coverage of costs more comprehensive. The former aspect is emphasized. EPA's definitions (see Table 2-4 Types of Costs below ) were used to separate costs into four broad categories.
|Conventional costs||Items such as capital and equipment, materials, and labor commonly included in most estimating and decision-support software and tools.|
|Potentially hidden costs||Costs that are not readily identifiable because
they are often hidden among other items (such as overhead accounts). They
include costs incurred in the course of complying with regulations such as costs
for monitoring, permit requirements, site preparation, and closure.
Environmental costs that are borne voluntarily (insurance, R&D, recycling)
are also potentially hidden costs. Maintenance and downtime costs are also
included as hidden costs, because they are often not identified during the
Costs associated with variables such as company image, community relations, and consumer response may also be included as hidden costs (although they are sometimes identified as less-tangible costs). These costs can adversely affect(or add to) a company's profit but are not readily quantifiable.
|Contingent costs||Potential expenses(penalties, fines, future liabilities) associated (in particular) with hazardous materials and waste management that users may need to incur at a future time. This term sometimes causes confusion because "contingency" is almost always considered in project cost estimates. However, this assignment is often arbitrary and typically does not factor in potential liability costs.|
|External costs||Potential social or external costs that companies do not (currently) bear, such as the cost of pollution. Companies are using and developing different methodologies for valuing or monetizing these contingent and less-tangible costs.|
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This section describes the methodology employed or suggested in the software systems or tools for cost estimation. In many cases, the product is not designed for cost estimation; in these cases, the section is blank. For example, scheduling systems and performance measurement systems are not used for cost estimation. Others, such as risk analysis systems, are not cost-estimating systems, but they can assist in aspects of cost estimation, such as assessing the accuracy of estimates or calculating contingency.
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Financial indicators are useful for comparing the returns from alternative projects. Four primary indicators have been listed along with an element called "other:" the NPV, payback period, IRR, and the benefit cost ratio. The glossary of terms includes definitions of these indicators. The payback period and the IRR are two common methods employed for financial analysis. NPV and the benefit cost ratio are more commonly referred to in the environmental context.
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This section lists general attributes and limitations of the products. In the first five product classes, the attributes section is written in terms of "user-friendlinessand flexibility" and "user-support." The flexibility of a software tool is one of the most important attributes because it determines its ability to include environmental and life-cycle costs in a comprehensive manner.
In sections for applications, control elements, life-cycle stages, costs considered, and financial indicators generated, an item has a check mark only if the system "as is" (without user-modification) considers the item.
In sections for applications, control elements, life-cycle stages, costs considered, and financial indicators generated, an item has a check mark only if the system "as is" (without user-modification) considers the item. For example, users may be able to use cost-estimating software systems and tools to estimate potentially hidden costs as well as conventional costs. However, this category is checked only if the system was designed to consider these costs. Since the software and tools were not actually tested, no solid conclusions could be reached about their ability to be modified. In the elements of control section, passive control devices (such as those for monitoring and tracking costs) are not considered. For example, a system would need to assist users in generating options, methods, or analyses for cost minimization if it were considered as a cost control device (proactive). A system that only tracks and reports costs after they are incurred is considered a passive control device (reactive).
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