February 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 9 
Cover Story

Initiative: Development Process Excellence

Initiative: Development Process ExcellenceObjective: To improve the yield of Boeing's research and development investments and the effectiveness and productivity of development programs

There are few things as important as the top quality and performance of Boeing's products and services. But here's another: having the right technologies and processes to develop these products in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

That's the broad aim of the Development Process Excellence initiative. At the helm are sponsor Jim Jamieson, Boeing chief technology officer, and leader Nan Bouchard, from Integrated Defense Systems. Jamieson and Bouchard shared their thoughts about what the initiative entails.

Q: What's this initiative about?

Bouchard: Boeing develops wonderful products based on breakthrough technologies, and that development work is very, very challenging. What we want to do in this initiative is help program managers achieve success by ensuring Boeing is investing in the right technologies to meet the near- and long-term goals of their programs and by providing best practices from across the company and industry to help them run their programs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Jamieson: We're going to look at R&D investments across the enterprise to see if we can get more yield on that investment, and we are going to look at the big development programs to identify best practices and lessons learned that can be shared with other programs. This will include looking at laboratories and large-scale system development work, as well as benchmarking best practices for R&D and program management in other companies.

Development Process Excellence: At the helm

Jim Jamieson

Corporate sponsor: Jim Jamieson, chief technology officer

Nan Bouchard

Leader: Nan Bouchard, from Integrated Defense Systems

Q: How long will it take us to reach our goals?

Jamieson: This initiative, like the others, is about continuous improvement. Since we should aim for improvement in growth and productivity every year, the initiative will go on and evolve over years to come.

Bouchard: It's not a case where there's a timeline and then we're done. We can always get better. We do things differently and better today than we did 20 years ago and, if we do things right, we'll do things differently and better 20 years from now than we do today. Along the way, we will work with the programs to define clear and aggressive near- and long-term goals, metrics and milestones for our initiative and develop a database for tracking our progress.

Q: The fact that this initiative has the name "Development" in it might imply it relates mainly to Phantom Works. But is it much broader?

Jamieson: Yes. As an enterprise initiative, it touches on all of Boeing. For Commercial Airplanes, it will touch on normal product development work as well as new product development work such as the 787. For IDS, it will touch on their work on programs such as the Joint Tactical Radio System, Ground-based Missile Defense, and large-scale systems integration programs like Future Combat Systems. It will also touch on Connexion by Boeing, Phantom Works, enterprise laboratories and more. So it covers a very broad spectrum.

Bouchard: Most of our large development is done in BCA, IDS and Connexion, so that's where the bulk of Boeing's R&D dollars are spent. So the initiative is centered more in the business units than in Phantom Works, although the advanced R&D work being done there will be an important focus of this initiative.

Q: What can employees do to support this initiative?

Bouchard: Employees should remember the initiatives are here to serve business units by providing information and business toolkits. This is very much a partnership going forward, and we're here to help make life better for the business units. They can also help by being open to process improvements and the introduction of best practices proven elsewhere. The success of development programs depends on the contributions of everyone working on the program.

Jamieson: I'd like to point out that all the initiatives—not just ours—apply to all employees, and each can have an impact on their success. In support of the Lean+ Initiative, for instance, people should see if they can find ways to lean out their areas. People in labs should see if there's synergy with other labs. The initiatives are going to introduce a new way of life at Boeing that will strengthen our capabilities and ensure a long and prosperous future for us all.

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