Project Manager Training Devices (PM TRADE), an organization within U.S. Army PEO STRI, achieved two major milestones in cost avoidance in Fiscal Year 2023 worth a total of $1.029 billion.


Using the Live Training Transformation (LT2) business model, PM TRADE’s first milestone was achieving a cost avoidance of $49.7 million, specifically for Fiscal Year 2023. This accomplishment exceeded the Army-mandated requirement of $20.7 million for all of PEO STRI by almost 2 ½ times.


PM TRADE reached its second milestone in the bigger, cumulative picture. According to figures calculated at the end of September 2023, PM TRADE managed to exceed $1 billion in overall cost avoidance with the LT2 model since it began tracking metrics in 2009.


A distinction should be made between “cost avoidance” and “cost savings.” Although both represent benefits that help an organization’s bottom line and are manifested through money it doesn’t have to spend, they are not the same.


Ron Gordon was the PM TRADE assistant program manager for the LT2 program when the cost avoidance was identified, who now serves in the same role under PEO STRI’s Product Lead Unified Integration and Transformation Enterprise (UnITE) after STRI’s recent reorganization. According to Gordon, cost savings involve costs an organization expected to pay, but didn’t. Cost avoidance represents costs an organization never incurred because that bottom-line payoff was a beneficial outcome of efficient business practices.


Reuse is a core theme of the LT2 model, and common components are explicitly designed for reuse. If a new program is later established, and there are common components necessary for that program, managers can look back to the product line for components already developed. One metric used in determining PEO STRI’s cost avoidance focused on software lines of code.


“We have a live transformation software product line approach,” said Paul Parker, formerly the lead systems architect on the LT2 team for PM TRADE, and now for UnITE. “In that approach, the government avoids costs by sharing the development of core software components across 22 products in the product line, which are fielded at 200-plus locations globally. If one product creates something and shares it, then the other products don’t have to create it because those common components are available for use.”


Other metrics considered in PM TRADE’s cost avoidance calculations included systems engineering requirements, hours of instruction content created, and pages of technical documentation created, which were all reduced thanks to reuse of certain assets across multiple programs.


“We recently met with PM TRADE’s program manager, Col. Thomas Monoghan,” said Tom Coffman, former deputy product director for PM TRADE, and now UnITE’s product integrator. “He looked at our cost avoidance for FY 2023, which was close to $50 million, and said, ‘Your cost avoidance this year was bigger than my entire budget when I was the product manager for PM Cyber Resiliency Training.’”


Gordon noted that Monoghan’s observation helped him reframe and appreciate the LT2 achievement on a new scale.


“That gave this cost avoidance milestone a different perspective, equating it to a PM’s budget for an entire year,” Gordon said.


Parker said any organization that has a portfolio of similar products can use this product line approach. It doesn’t matter if the products are software or hardware, but there must be some synergy and similarity across those products to be leveraged for cost avoidance. Because this approach also has relevance on larger scales, another tangible benefit of the LT2 business model is improved interoperability between military services. PM TRADE has regularly collaborated with the Marine Corps’ Program Manager Training Systems (PM TRASYS) in researching and developing warfighter solutions since both agencies signed a memo of agreement in 2009.


“PM TRADE and PM TRASYS both focus on live training,” Coffman said. “We may call our programs different names because we’re different services, but when you lift the hood, it’s the same stuff. We realize that, so we have the synergies and annual joint reviews to see what each of the programs can leverage.”


Coffman said the “main cog” that makes this approach work is PM TRADE’s Common Training and Instrumentation Architecture. It is employed across the live training domain and across 22 programs (five of which, it shares with PM TRASYS) that make use of common components and common architecture.


“That’s a big part of cost avoidance, as opposed to every program investing in every single thing on their own – and doing so in stove pipes – so you can imagine how much costs would spiral out of control,” Coffman said. “This is just a smart business model of doing things and sharing across many programs.”


The LT2 model has demonstrated a strong record of achievements over time, and it has received recognition at local, state, Army/DoD and international levels. In 2015, the LT2 business model earned an Army Lean Six Sigma award. That year saw 1,072 nominees considered, but LT2 was one of only 10 selected. In 2014, LT2 joined the International Software Product Line Hall of Fame. It is currently one of only 23 honorees in the world to receive this international recognition – for any industry – and is the only Army program ever inducted.


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