Original Date: 07/25/2005
Revision Date: 09/12/2006
Best Practice : Process Excellence
The continuous improvement process in Northrop Grumman Corporation is a company-wide initiative that deploys improvement tools, initiatives, and goals throughout all business sectors and corporate functions. Known as Process Excellence, the four-step implementation process includes building a sharing infrastructure, developing a process management framework, driving process management into business, and sustaining business performance. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems has experienced more than 12 years of success with its Process Excellence approach and improved system lead-times, manufacturing performance indices, and on-time deliveries.
Continuous improvement in Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (NGES) is championed by the Enterprise Excellence Council (EEC). The EEC was chartered to create and sustain an enterprise-wide framework for continuous improvement that is linked to business strategy and is both customer and quality-focused. Efforts are data driven and are tied to business results. The goal of Enterprise Excellence is to think and act like “One Northrop Grumman” by establishing a continuous improvement culture across the entire company.
Process Excellence, the implementation strategy of Enterprise Excellence, identifies and deploys continuous improvement methodologies, practices, and tools such as Lean, Six Sigma, ISO, and Capability Maturation Model and Capability Maturation Model Integration initiatives throughout all business processes to facilitate the sharing of best practices across NGES using a four-stage implementation strategy. NGES is in the second year of a five-year planning horizon to improve the company’s process excellence status from “good” to “great” and to sustain this position among its peers.
NGES established five level process and organizational maturity frameworks to assess growth toward established goals. With more than 10 years of experience that date back to the 1993 Lean Aerospace Initiative, NGES has trained more than 600 employees in lean principles, value stream mapping, and learning to see waste while educating more than 100 suppliers in similar concepts. Efforts are ongoing to establish cross-company value stream maps. Activities from 2002 to 2005 have focused on implementation and re-enforcement of future state maps, evolving from point improvements to overall system improvements and looking beyond the shop floor for implementation opportunities. Results have included a 20% improvement in on-time deliveries at the Puerto Rico facility, lead-time reductions from 29 months to 18 months, and a 30% improvement in manufacturing performance indices.
Current Value Stream Management encompasses all levels of the company and crosses program and business sector boundaries (Figure 2-4). Present efforts are extending these boundaries by considering interorganizational Extended Value Streams that include strategic partners and critical suppliers. The Extended Value Stream paradigm will set joint goals and targets to synchronize intraorganizational goals, strategic enablers, tools, and implementation plans.
Figure 2-4. Extended Value Stream
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