April 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 11 
Around Boeing

Improving development program performance

Nan Bouchard
Development Process Excellence

There are three primary focus areas within the Development Process Excellence initiative. An Enterprise Technology Team is looking at how we can maximize the leverage of our R&D investments. Our Product Development and Large-Scale Integration Team is examining ways to improve the effectiveness and productivity of our development programs. And a Lab and Test Asset Team is working to optimize the efficiency and performance of our enterprise lab services.

To help Boeing better leverage its R&D investments, one thing the Enterprise Technology Team is looking at is the established process used by [Integrated Defense Systems] business development executives and strategic process councils to decide how they distribute their new business funds to programs consistent with their long-range business plan and overall strategic view. This understanding is important for ensuring that the development of an overarching Boeing technology strategy is consistent with their business strategy.

We're also looking for synergies between IDS and [Commercial Airplanes], with Phantom Works, with the universities we fund, with our suppliers and with the outside companies with whom we have technology agreements. We are working to eliminate duplicate projects, subscale projects that are not really contributing, and projects that are no longer aligned with where we want to go with our businesses. To that end, we are working on developing a disciplined, gated review process.

To improve the effectiveness and productivity of our development programs, the Product Development and Large Scale Integration team is identifying our current best practices in program management, supplier management, lean development and system engineering to see how we can leverage them better across the enterprise. This is part of the company's initiative to move more toward common tools, systems and processes.

We're also looking outside of Boeing to find best practices that we can benchmark. The initiative team will then document those internal and external best practices so they can be replicated across the business. It can be hard to change in the middle of a program. But I can tell you from experience, it's often better to make a change even though you think you can scrape by without doing it.

In its focus on optimizing the cost of enterprise lab services, the Lab and Test Asset Team is looking at how we can best utilize Boeing labs—and external labs, when the latter are a better choice. This will include identifying synergies among existing labs and making sure we have a lab management and operating structure that will allow us to reach goals not just for one site or business unit but for the enterprise as a whole.

Development Process Excellence is a journey we as a company need to make. It has to be owned by us. For some, it is a change in the way we run our program or teams. There are many wonderful things going on in Boeing that can and should be replicated from program to program. It's our goal to enable that replication for the benefit of the business units and Boeing.


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