The work that I did to support the Cassini mission Saturn was described in an article in the Engineering Management Journal Vol 8, No. 1, March 1996.

“AN INNOVATIVE DISTRIBUTED PROJECT CONTROL APPROACH: A CASE STUDY OF THE CASSINI MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM (CMIS)”  by Michael W. Hughes and Reed E. Wilcox, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology


The Cassini Project. a NASA-funded exploration mission to Saturn that is being managed by the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, has developed a distributed project schedule control system for complex development programs. The system is called the Cassini Management Information System (CMIS). The system was built to make schedule control simple, user-friendly, and low-cost. CMIS is distributed across a local area network of PCs and Macintosh computers and consists of four major modules: schedule control, action item tracking. work package implementation plan, and budget tracking. This article focuses on the schedule control module of CMIS. CMIS was one of the innovations introduced in response to the decrees of the U.S. Congress, and subsequently NASA, to conduct space exploration on a fixed-price basis. This article summarizes CMIS development history as a schedule control tool, its key features, and its use by more than 130 engineers and managers.

For the full article click here.

Patent for Network Based Task Management

This innovative distributed project control approach resulted in Patent Number: 5,893,074 issued on April 6, 1999.  Caltech Institute of Technology Patent no: 2370.

Inventors: Glen G. Gira, Michael W. Hughes, Reed E. Wilcox

Abstract: A schedule-control method for managing and controlling projects is described. The method is implemented on components including an electronic user interface, relational database, and computational component. These components are designed to process input data in a well-defined format called a receivable/deliverable (rec/del) format. Using this format, the project is broken down into a series of smaller components or “tasks”. Each task involves a contract between a supplier and a receiver, and results in the production of a “product”. Suppliers and receivers can enter up-to-the-minute input data in the rec/del format concerning a particular product. Input data are entered through the electronic user interface which can be e-mail or a user-interface computer program. Data are entered into tables of the relational database in the rec/del format. The input data are then rapidly processed with the computational component to generate output data indicating the status of the project.



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