September 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 5 
Integrated Defense Systems

We need to know

We need to know

With its new portal, modeling, simulation & analysis team can work smarter, collaborate


How do you foster collaboration and integration among the more than 2,500 Modeling, Simulation & Analysis (MS&A) practitioners throughout the company? For the Boeing Analysis, Modeling and Simulation (AMS) organization, the answer was clear: Build a portal community with a Knowledge Management tool to serve as a repository of Boeing's MS&A tools and data.

With its rollout in July, that portal community is now a reality. Known as the MS&A Collaborative Environment, this resource fulfills one of the most urgent needs cited by Boeing MS&A professionals. Steve Cameron, the AMS organization's manager of Modeling & Simulation Infrastructure, said "the simple yet urgent need for the 'left hand to know what the right hand was doing' in the field of MS&A" ranked among the top five of a list of specific needs spelled out at conferences attended by MS&A community members.

Searching for a solution, Cameron and his team discovered that most knowledge management or collaborative environment packages they surveyed were better suited for the vertical collaboration needed in a single organization. For Boeing, the MS&A Collaborative Environment was created to support the looser collaboration needs of about 60 organizations, sites and programs across the company. Through a combination of tools available from Boeing's Information Technology organization and a commercial Knowledge Management application, the AMS Collaborative Environment Development Team built a portal community to meet this need.

The MS&A Collaborative Environment contains a broad suite of tools and services. These include

  • A scheduling system for resources used in distributed simulations.
  • Two "portlets" that automatically display links to specific workplaces in Sharepoint and the Boeing Resource Access System for Simulation, Software, and Systems Information, a collaborative environment for storing, finding and working with Boeing technical information.
  • Access to the AMS Repository, a point for access to MS&A tools and models.
  • A Knowledge Management tool.

Cameron called the portal's Knowledge Management and AMS Repository tools "the crown jewels" of the new system. The Knowledge Management tool, based on a commercial tool produced by AskMe Corp., automatically connects people doing similar MS&A work.

"This not only prevents wasteful, duplicative work, but it is a catalyst for people sharing ideas on solutions to similar problems," Cameron said. He added that the system also automatically captures knowledge from discussions within the communities of practice in AskMe, and allows for the publication of frequently asked questions and best practices for each community.

"These two tools help MS&A community members find what they have, ask for help on what they know they don't have, and automatically discover what they didn't know they didn't have," Cameron added.

Members of the MS&A community applauded the portal's arrival. "For nearly 30 years, I've watched Boeing's modeling, simulation and analysis community struggle with effective communication across organizational boundaries," said Bill Tucker, of Phantom Works Modeling and Simulation Technology in Huntsville, Ala. "I keep seeing people working hard to solve the same problems. It's great to have a tool like this to help us integrate our efforts."

For AMS Vice President Guy Higgins, the collaborative environment represents a major step toward achieving a key goal of his organization: to foster better integration among Boeing's MS&A community.

The MS&A Collaborative Environment can be accessed from any IDS or Phantom Works employee's personal homepage on the Boeing Web, via the "My Communities" pull-down tab. Then look for the "MS&A Community of Interest." Pending formal Boeing IT designation of standard Knowledge Management tools, the license for the tool limits access to a maximum of 500 users. For more information, contact Steve Cameron at (425) 865-2498 or


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