Original Date: 09/14/1998
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Technology Communication
Raytheon Missile Systems Company (RMSC) recognizes that its future business is critically dependent on the company’s ability to develop and maintain superior technical expertise in its workforce. This task requires focusing on technology and the rapid dissemination of technical information throughout various scientific disciplines, programs, RMSC, and the corporation. During the 1993 merger between Hughes (now Raytheon) and General Dynamics, this focus shifted. As a result, training and technical excellence became unprioritized, and competitiveness was reduced. In 1994, RMSC established a goal to develop technical excellence at the design engineer level which led to the enterprise-wide Technology Communication program.
The main focus of this program is increased technical communication within RMSC. The Corporate technology structure facilitates communication by establishing a forum for sharing technical information between individual segments, across business divisions, and throughout the corporation. Bi-annual Independent Research and Development (IRAD) reviews by segment and a company-wide IRAD database also distribute the latest capabilities to a larger audience. Technology networks in specific segments (e.g., electro-optics, radio frequency, signal processing, software, systems, mechanical, materiel) enable information to be shared throughout RMSC via internal and external conferences, workshops, and technical excellence awards. Employees who are unable to attend these functions can obtain a CD-ROM of any seminar or conference. RMSC also conducts periodic informal brown-bag lunch technical exchanges and one-hour technical presentations every Thursday afternoon after work hours. Since 1995, the company has conducted more than 6,000 hours of training.
RMSC encourages external technical communication by automatically paying for conference attendance of employees who present papers or officiate a conference. Engineers are encouraged to accept official positions in technical societies, and RMSC gives out Published Paper and Outstanding Paper of the Year Awards. Internal communication at RMSC is done through a Technical Experts Panel. This panel consists of 35 multi-disciplined engineers and/or scientists, each with more than 15 years of experience. The company provides a budget of eight hours per week per engineer for technical participation in design/program reviews, plans, proposals and tiger teams. Each expert member mentors five junior engineers/scientists. The Technical Experts Panel also develops the IRAD technical strategy, forms the patent committee, and participates on special assignments as needed.
Peer reviews are used to improve communication during the design process, and are a planned part of the program throughout the design cycle. Members of a peer review include the designers, peers from another program, a technical expert, a section manager, and the department manager. The goal is to perform a detailed technical analysis of the design by leveraging on the Corporate technical knowledge. The reviews are included in the company’s monthly metrics.
The Technology Communication program makes Corporate technical knowledge available to programs from the earliest stages of design; keeps the workforce technically competent and aware of internal and external developments; decreases the likelihood of design errors; and reduces product development costs. In addition, the program promotes technical communication; fosters technical innovation; and motivates engineers to stay at RMSC. The employee turnover rate at RMSC is 1.5% to 2%, compared to the industry average of 12%. Technical excellence through communication is a coordinated company strategy, which ensures that the right technology and design approaches are being applied to customers’ needs.
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