The Operations Programs Integrated Product Team (IPT) is responsible for providing direction and coordination for all of Northrop Grumman Defensive Systems Division’s (DSD’s) operational activities. The primary functional activities are Production Planning & Scheduling; Operations Project Engineering; Material Planning & Control; and Operations Business Management. The Operations Programs IPT provides the insight and support required to develop new programs and transition them to full-scale production. To accomplish this goal, the group is responsible for: Acting as the primary interface between Operations and all functional departments within Northrop Grumman DSD for program definition and scope; performance to schedule and budget; and resolution of technical and/or engineering issues.
In the past, Northrop Grumman DSD operated as a matrix organization. This approach provided professional stability of functional experts and minimal duplication of common parts, practices, and processes. However, additional costs resulted from increased coordination between functions, lack of ownership at the program level, and limited knowledge of the program/product line. Today, Northrop Grumman DSD’s product organization structure has resulted in a 38% reduction in support personnel; extensive knowledge of the product line; and strong team spirit/ownership. Some duplication still exists on common low value material. The changeover to a product organization structure was largely driven by an increase in program/product lines (from two to 20) and by budget constraints which forced the company to reduce the number of direct/indirect support personnel. In addition, the company’s 1994 merger with Grumman Aerospace Corporation increased its geographical sites from one to four; part numbers from 5,000 to 100,000; and subcontractor/vendor base from 2,000 to 4,200.
The implementation of the Integrated Management Control System (IMCS) was critical in providing the fundamental framework to leverage the near-seamless database information flow within the Northrop Grumman DSD infrastructure. The initiative to establish a Product Project Authorization Code allows this facility to collect costs under a single account number, and then allocate them based on delivery and master sales plans. The results are contract schedule flexibility; reduced procurements and shop orders; simplified time card and cost reporting processes; and better product cost visibility. The IMCS subsystem modules (e.g., Auto Requisition/AutoBuy; Auto Transfer) were also instrumental in establishing the Operations Programs IPT. The IMCS, combined with off-line models, can generate automated reports for manufacturing metrics, material metrics, earned value process, equivalent units, and budget performance.
By implementing the Operations Programs IPT, Northrop Grumman DSD reduced its support labor by about $2 to $3 million per year for direct/indirect personnel. The changeover from traditional roles within a matrix organization also resulted in about $3 million per year in cost avoidance.
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