Original Date: 07/25/2005
Revision Date: 09/12/2006
Best Practice : Design Integrity Process and Senior Technical Oversight
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems manages risk more effectively by assigning senior design authorities to assess potential program risks. Design authorities work closely with program engineering managers, providing independent technical oversight to identify areas of potential risk. Data generated by design authorities is entered on a monthly risk report card and tracked by design authorities before receiving a “return to green” status. Monthly risk report cards enable Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems engineering managers to track action plans and report on the status of technical risk factors before program implementation.
With numerous projects at Northrop Grumman Electronics Systems (NGES), engineers and senior managers created a method to provide independent technical oversight and risk report cards to more effectively manage risk to meet project milestones. This method is simple yet broad enough to manage risk in all NGES programs.
NGES senior management has installed three positions of design authority on each engineering team: systems, hardware, and software. The roles and responsibilities of design authorities are defined in NGES engineering policies, establishing the accountability of personnel for their actions on engineering projects. At any time, design authorities have the capability to stop projects. NGES did not have this practice established in past years because of the difficulties associated with risk mitigation and risk management. This practice is extremely beneficial to NGES because it is a sector-wide procedure applicable to 17 NGES sites where numerous projects are occurring. NGES also recognized the need for new hires to be part of these teams to understand how all engineering programs work from concept through design to production and assigned senior mentors to assist new hires on lengthy design programs. NGES further strengthened product reviews by allowing small groups consisting of two to three employees with the technical expertise to make decisions applicable to product design and to manage risk by monthly report cards.
At the end of each month, NGES engineering managers notify team members to update their risk assessment and provide technical notes for clarity. The Microsoft Excel-based report card is passed on to the three senior design authorities who are required to sign off in their functional areas, thus providing accountability. NGES engineering managers then roll up the risk report card and present it to senior management where it will be entered into the risk management process for the entire project. Technical areas and report cards can be viewed from other sites electronically, eliminating the need for design authorities to be physically present to manage the project or to sign off on it.
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