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Opportunity Management

Opportunities are potential future benefits to the program’s cost, schedule, and/or performance baseline, usually achieved through proactive steps that include allocation of resources. Risk and opportunity management support Better Buying Power initiatives to achieve should-cost objectives.

Opportunity management, like issue management, is complementary to risk management. Program personnel should implement an opportunity identification and evaluation process to plan, identify, analyze, manage, and monitor initiatives that yield potential program cost reductions, schedule reductions, and/or performance improvements. As with risk and issue management, the program uses opportunity management to attempt to improve potential program outcomes. Opportunities can also help offset cost or schedule impacts from realized risks. Programs should document their opportunity management processes and may choose to incorporate these processes in the PRP.  

Identifying opportunities starts with an active search for potential enhancements within the program’s technical mission and stakeholder objectives. As opportunities are found or identified, the program evaluates the likelihood and potential benefits as well as the risks involved. 

Candidate opportunities should be evaluated for costs, benefits, and potential risks before they are approved. If approved, the program should develop an opportunity management plan outlining how it will take advantage of the opportunity while continuing to manage risks and issues.

Opportunities may be identified before program execution and should be sought across the program life cycle. Sources of opportunities include system and program changes that yield reductions in total ownership cost. For example, adherence to a modular open systems approach or securing appropriate government rights to a technical data package can offer opportunities in sparing and competition for modifications. These cost reductions can be in research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E), production, and operations and maintenance (O&M) dollars throughout the life cycle. Short-term gains with long-term negative consequences are usually not opportunities or appropriate should-cost initiatives.

During R&D and production, the program should continuously analyze opportunities for design and manufacturing changes that yield reductions in production and support R&D and costs. Design changes to production configurations (and the product baseline) may take the form of Value Engineering Change Proposals within the context of ongoing production contracts. These do not change the system performance but yield production or support cost reductions. 

During the O&S phase, opportunities may arise from the observation and analysis of actual in-service performance. In addition, the emergence of more efficient production practices or better performing components can provide opportunities for improved reliability, more efficient fuel consumption, improved maintenance practices, other reduced support costs, or economic capability enhancements. 

Programs may establish a separate Opportunity Management Board, but this guide assumes the RMB also oversees opportunity management. Once candidate opportunities are identified, the program RMB (or equivalent) should examine the opportunity and, if approved, assign an owner and track it in the opportunity register (analogous to the risk register). The next step is to perform a cost, schedule, and performance benefit analysis for each approved opportunity and document the results. Opportunities with sufficient potential should be evaluated relative to potential management options.

Programs should consider contracting for value management (e.g., Value Engineering Change Proposals) and incentives to encourage pursuit of opportunities. Programs should also encourage opportunities with small improvements that can be obtained with minor effort and without program disruption. Aggregation of multiple smaller benefits may accrue to a larger program benefit. Programs should consider ways to create incentives for vendors to recognize and pursue or recommend opportunities. 

Management options should be evaluated in terms of cost, schedule, and performance potential benefits and risk, and the best option (or hybrid of options) selected. These options include: 

  • Pursue now – Fund and implement a plan to realize the opportunity. (Determination of whether to pursue the opportunity will include evaluation of the return of any investment when the opportunity would be realized, the cost, additional resources required, risk, and time to capture.)
  • Defer – Pursue/cut-in later; for example, request funds for the next budget and request the S&T community mature the concept.
  • Reevaluate – Continuously evaluate the opportunity for changes in circumstances.
  • Reject – Intentionally ignore an opportunity because of cost, technical readiness, resources, schedule burden, and/or low probability of successful capture.

Given the selected option, the program should then choose an implementation approach.

For the “pursue” option, the resources needed to implement the plan should be approved and documented in the program’s opportunity register. Management activities should be included in the opportunity register (or equivalent) and inserted into the program IMS in order to track progress to plan. Risks identified with the opportunity should be included in the risk register.

Once the opportunity management plan is in place, the program office should monitor the opportunity. It should collect actual versus planned cost, schedule, performance, and benefit information, feed this information back to the prior process steps, adjust the plan as warranted, analyze potential changes in the opportunity level, and examine potential risks and additional opportunities that may be identified. This updated information should be included in the program’s opportunity register and risk changes identified in the risk register.

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