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 ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- For more than a decade,

Robbins-Gioia, Inc., has helped government agencies and their contractors successfully manage massive procurement and modernization projects. Today, the company is bringing that same know-how to the business world.
 A little more than three years ago, John Gioia decided it was time to find new markets for his company, Robbins-Gioia Inc. He wanted to take the company's proven track record for project management in government-related contracts and duplicate it in the private sector.
 Arguably, Gioia could have been the victim of bad timing, given that the economy was about to slide into its worst recession in decades. But Gioia has been little more than a spectator to the recession; his company, in any case, hasn't participated in it.
 Alexandria-based Robbins-Gioia, in fact, has been growing rapidly in the 1990s, with employment growing to 300 professionals from about 200 in 1990, and revenue growing from $17 million in 1990 to an estimated $25 million this year.
 Much of the growth can be linked directly to Gioia's decision to pursue private-sector contracts, highlighted by the company's key assistance in the $7.4 billion merger between AT&T and NCR last year. Robbins-Gioia more recently has secured project-management contracts with the National Association of Securities Dealers, Bull/Integris and others. Gioia is hoping to double the company's size within the next five years as the firm's reputation in the corporate world grows.
 Despite the recession, Gioia said, corporations are realizing that they need a more-scientific, disciplined approach to managing projects, whether bringing new products to market, opening new plants or restructuring entire companies -- and they are turning to R-G for help.
 Jim Walworth, assistant vice president of logistics for NCR Corp. in Dayton, Ohio, worked with Robbins-Gioia during his company's merger with AT&T, and sees a growing demand for R-G's style of project management.
 "It allowed us to monitor everything and gave us a way to manage it all," Walworth said, "I think we'll start to see more of it."
 The "it" Walworth refers to is a process developed and practiced by Robbins-Gioia since its founding in 1980. In fact, the same basic approach taken by R-G to keep the AT&T/NCR merger on track has been used for everything from the development of new commercial aircraft to the modernization of computer systems for the U.S. Department of Defense.
 Clients such as Boeing, Grumman, Unisys, Electronic Data Systems, McDonnell Douglas and numerous branches of the U.S. government have hired Robbins-Gioia to help manage projects that span years, or (as with the AT&T/NCR merger) just a few months.
 Regardless of the nature of a project or the amount of time allowed for its completion, R-G officials bring the same three things to each contract -- proven management procedures, a team of professionals to help execute those procedures and a company developed open system software tool to track and analyze it all.
 The company calls the approach "business engineering," but it really boils down to one simple concept that has become the lifeblood of Robbins-Gioia's growth: Any milestone or goal has a better chance of being met on time, within budget, if guesswork is banished from the process.
 To do that, Robbins-Gioia identifies and baselines the customer's unique process; designing to achieve their objective, managing progress and forecasting the future. For example, if a client decides it wants to add a new feature to its product midway through the development process, R-G can determine precisely how that will affect the project schedule; if the client wants the changes made without pushing back deadlines, R-G can analyze precisely what additional resources must be committed, whether labor or financial, or both.
 According to Gioia, the technique ensures both quality and efficiency by eliminating the one thing that can scuttle any project -- a bad surprise.
 Simple in concept perhaps, but not always easy to carry off. Gioia learned that first hand when he was managing the upgrading of data-processing systems for the Air Force in the 1960s and '70s. It was then, Gioia said, that he learned about the pitfalls of managing huge projects without a precise discipline for keeping track of all the elements involved.
 "You never knew when you were going to get things. No one would tell you how they were doing and we were always being surprised" Gioia said.
 As deputy director of ADP policy and acquisition for the Air Force, Gioia developed a process to organize and control automated data-processing projects. Gioia's methods didn't involve the creation or design of the systems themselves, but rather a process for putting them in place and making sure they worked -- without blowing time schedules or budgets wide open. Gioia realized that the new methods could very likely be used for a broad range of projects, regardless of their nature.
 So in 1980, Gioia founded R-G with fellow Air Force colleague Jack Robbins. The two men decided that the place to start was the arena they know best -- the Department of Defense, which routinely was engaged in multibillion-dollar, long-range projects that carried a high degree of risk.
 Robbins-Gioia's first big break came with its involvement in the U.S. Army's Vertical Integration Automation Baseline project, essentially a wide-scale effort to modernize computer systems.
 That contract also marked the beginning of R-G's long-standing relationship with Electronic Data Systems Corp., the computer-systems integration giant owned by General Motors Corp. EDS had won the contract to design and install the Army's new computer systems, and R-G teamed with the systems integrator to provide project-management support. R-G and EDS have worked together on numerous projects since.
 By the early 1980s, R-G's project-management techniques had fully evolved into the triple-threat approach it uses today -- the combination of procedures, professionals and software for each project.
 In 1985, the software element took a big leap forward, when the company developed the Control and Analysis Tool, or CAT, a Unix- based, fourth-generation-language software tool for analyzing and controlling project information. R-G developed the data base management tool after it determined that existing software packages offered neither the capacity to fully track big projects nor the flexibility to be useful in a diverse range of situations.
 By mid-decade, the company began making a profound mark on Washington. For example, R-G's project-management program for the massive Air Force Logistics Modernization program was so effective that a congressional appropriations committee in 1990 called it "among the most successful computer systems in DoD history."
 No small feat, given that the U.S. government is the world's single largest purchaser of computer equipment. Its procurement typically are mind-numbingly complex and carry a high risk of failure, all while facing intense scrutiny from Congress. Col. John Randle, program manager for the Air Force's 7th Communications Group, said the value of R-G's project-management services couldn't be overstated, since the company gave him "total visibility (of project details), the means to control the program and an admirable record to defend it."
 As the decade drew to a close, Gioia and his fellow R-G executives decided to gamble on similar success in the private sector. They saw businesses under increasing pressure from global competitors and a growing demand from their customers for better quality -- even as the need to hold down costs was becoming paramount.
 "We wanted to diversify," said Gioia. "And the market was there. In the past, government has been more amenable to using (our) process. They admit projects can take a long time -- they outsource and they assign budgets for specific projects. Corporations think on a quarter-to-quarter basis."
 In other words, corporations traditionally have been less likely to properly monitor and execute a project if doing so conflicted with profit projections for the next fiscal quarter
 "But that's beginning to change," Gioia said. "I'm sensing that they recognize a need for better internal controls."
 Gioia's gut feeling that the private sector was ripe for R-G's services has been on target. The company's role in the AT&T/NCR marriage marked the first time that a corporate merger was treated as a stand-alone project, with its own goals, management team and resources.
 This year, R-G's private-sector growth is continuing. It is assisting Bull/Integris in that company's contract to develop a software telephone-switching system for GTE, for example. R-G also won a contract from the National Association of Securities Dealers to develop a program-control prototype for the modernization of the NASDAQ stock-market quotation system. In essence, R-G was hired to prepare the company to manage a long-range, $100 million overhaul of the computer system through which millions of stock trades are made every business day.
 Not the sort of project one wants to leave to chance.
 -0- 8/3/92
 /CONTACT: T.W. Fitzgerald for Robbins-Gioia, 703-548-7006/ CO: Robbins-Gioia, Inc. ST: Virginia IN: SU:

TW -- DC002 -- 5946 08/03/92 07:33 EDT
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Date:Aug 3, 1992

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