One of the most critical processes to undergo transformation in Aerospace and Defense (A&D) is project management. Streamlined project management can help manufacturers save money, stay viable and compete for additional contracts in the future. A&D manufacturers that excel in project management know the importance of owning the new product development and introduction process.
The need for a process owner in the areas of design and engineering collaboration is critical and is considered by many A&D manufacturers to have the greatest immediate impact on profitability both in the short and long term.
“Without centralized ownership, the direction of the project is never assured and is frequently affected by external sources that are not really relevant to the mission of the project,” says Lou Washington, Senior Business Manager at Cincom Systems.
If ownership of new product development is not assigned, personal agendas can take over and blur the overall scope of the project. The lack of focus can causes delays in bringing the new product to market and generating revenue. This results in lost opportunity and lost market share to competitors arriving in the market earlier.
The role of the CIO and IT department is to streamline the new product development process internally in order to build competitive strength externally. They must ensure that workflows support each step of the project management process and that systems are aligned to make them more efficient.
Since the new product development phase is highly complex and requires integration of many processes, adapting a lean approach is essential. Still, A&D manufacturers tend to be more comfortable in traditional ERP mode which focuses on building higher volume, delivering to a wider customer base and getting more products delivered sooner.
Planning to forecast, push manufacturing and mass production economics are all counter to the lean management philosophy which embraces a customer, demand-driven manufacturing process and pull-based fulfillment model.
“Lean manufacturing is a strategy to maximize the efficiency of the whole manufacturing process by getting rid of all the peripheral ‘stuff’ that does not deliver value to the customer,” explains Washington.
Ownership of new project development consolidates leadership and identifies a central focus in all aspects of project management. CIOs and IT departments must be the agents of change in this important process, keeping track of internal inefficiencies that could result in losses for both their company and their customers.