Original Date: 02/26/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Internal Customer Relations
The Internal Customer Relations approach was developed by General Dynamics Armament Systems and its government customer. Based on teaming and trust, this unique relationship focuses on prevention of defects, continuous process improvement, and teaming for improvement and success.
During the early to mid-1980s, the relationship between General Dynamics Armament Systems (GDAS) and its on- site government customer was best described as adversarial. Fueling the situation were detailed oversight, redundant tests and inspections, formal interaction, restricted access to certain areas, minimal sharing of information, and non- existent trust. Increased competition and downsizing in the late 1980s and Acquisition Reform in the 1990s helped sway both organizations into developing a proactive approach for Internal Customer Relations.
GDAS’ Internal Customer Relations emphasizes prevention of defects, continuous process improvement (CPI) in the manufacturing areas, and increased teaming in the factory and support areas. This new proactive approach and relationship is based on teaming and trust, where the contractor and the government maintain their independence and continue to protect the interest of their stakeholders. The customer is now an active part of area work teams, and participates in problem analysis and resolution. When continuous improvement teams are necessary, the customer is involved in the initial training and actively participates in the process improvement. GDAS and the government have also jointly developed on-line systems for corrective action documentation and electronic DD250s. During the on- site ISO-9001 certification process and subsequent recertifications at GDAS, the government has participated rather than duplicated these audits.
Another improvement is communications. The Corrective Action Board meetings have become Quality Reviews which focus on process improvement and prevention. Monthly management one-on-one meetings provide opportunities for both organizations to candidly discuss issues and resolve problems at an elevated level. In addition, the President of GDAS and the Commanding Officer of the area Defense Contract Management Agency attend quarterly management meetings.
The Internal Customer Relations approach has significantly improved the relationship between GDAS and its government customer. Quality metrics have improved by more than 70% since 1996, and GDAS has enjoyed its best performance ever in the last two years. This unique relationship, based on trust and teaming, is a win-win situation for all involved.
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