Original Date: 11/12/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Status Whiteboards
The Status Whiteboards system is a 20 x 8-foot display wall that provides visual status of all Aerospace production and repair contracts at various stages of execution. They are updated daily to provide real-time information to Frontier Electronic Systems’ employees and customers, thus eliminating the need to manually retrieve information via contract files.
The various Aerospace contracts at Frontier Electronic Systems (FES) are executed by different Program Managers with direct support of the Contract Manager. Each Contract Manager supports one to five Program Managers and their associated contracts/subcontracts. Previously, no efficient system existed for focusing team members on customer commitments. Although a contract system was in place, additional information was often needed on a daily basis. As a result, employees manually retrieved information from contract files to answer questions from Program Managers, Project Engineers, Data Management Specialists, Shipping Personnel, Senior Management, as well as customers. FES had no linked relationships among the various prime contracts for the same product line over an extended period of time, nor a linked relationship among the various major subcontracts that supported those prime contracts. The company also recognized the need to include repair/support contracts and how the prime/subcontracts impacted the production orders. In June 1998, FES experimented with a few whiteboards. These boards were placed on the walls of the Aerospace Group so Program Teams could visually see what was contractually due. The idea grew into the Status Whiteboards system.
As the Status Whiteboards system expanded, more line items were added such as serial numbers for end item production runs; warranty expiration dates (after shipping) and customer purchase order numbers for easy reference; and key data item deliveries with a color code system indicating blue for on-time and red for late. All posted information is easily understandable allowing Program Team Members to focus on key upcoming customer commitments. The Status Whiteboards also provide an overall scorecard that reflects the teams’ efforts. As time progressed, major subcontract information (where applicable) was added below the respective prime contracts to show what was needed from suppliers to meet commitments. The Status Whiteboards system has become a 20 x 8- foot display wall that includes all major aerospace orders, subcontracts, return authorization tracking numbers, repair orders, and upcoming actions required to keep the programs on track.
The Status Whiteboards system has enabled the Program Teams to be more goal-oriented toward success. Because of the increased visibility of contract commitments, the Aerospace Group has not missed a single customer delivery since June 1998. Internal and external customer questions can usually be answered by the information on the Status Whiteboards. Often, this information assists personnel in recalling additional details on a particular program. A 30- second glance at the Status Whiteboards can provide more information to a question that previously took five to ten minutes to answer. Over a one-year period, this inquiry comparison equates to a reduction from 175 hours to less than ten.
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