In my first blog of this series I introduced you to the Four Pillars of the Affordability Process. They are:

1.       Management Support

2.       Methodology

3.       Training

4.       Tools/Automation

In this fourth blog I will provide you with the benefit of my insight and years of experience by writing about the Third Pillar; Training.

Once Management Support has been obtained (The Key) and a written Methodology (The Heart) published to breathe life into the process it’s time to train management and the members of Design Integrated Product Teams (IPT) in Affordability Methodology and its application at the program and IPT levels.

Affordability training is best focused on implementation and management of the Affordability Process. Therefore, two training classes are required. One class is focused solely on Affordability implementation and the second on the management of Affordability on a program.

The training for implementation of Affordability is specifically targeted to Design IPT members. Members of the Design IPT typically include the following specialties:

  • Team Lead
  • Electrical Design Engineer
  • Mechanical Design Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Test Engineer
  • Reliability Engineer
  • Production Engineer
  • Quality Engineer
  • Human Factors Engineer
  • Affordability Manager
  • Risk Manager
  • Etc. as required

The training class for Design IPT Members should be from 8 to 12 hours long, include practical exercises and the use of standardized tools, reports, and formats while focusing on the following specifics:

  • Who
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where
  • How

The “Who” refers to the individuals within management, engineering and production specialties that should be involved in the Affordability Process; what their responsibilities and duties are, and what is expected from them.

By “What” is meant the specifics of the Affordability process to be used as well as the exact tools and standardized reports that are required in the application of the Affordability process. The basic process used is to 1) set cost goals, 2) design to meet those goals through an iterative process, 3) measure progress toward those goals, and 4) eventually meet those goals. The Affordability process is enhanced by the application of Design to Cost (DTC), Cost as an Independent Variable (CAIV), Design for Manufacturability/Assembly (DFMA), Value Engineering (VE), and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS).

Every IPT member should understand the “Why” of the Affordability Process. It is to insure the customer receives a value for their money. Value is defined as a product or service that meets a customer’s requirements at the right price. Value is best achieved by using a process that leads the Design IPT in the proper direction toward cost reduction, making sure that necessary performance and schedule standards are met.

“When” is the Affordability process used? The Affordability process is used throughout a programs life cycle; all the way from the conceptual phase, through design and development, production, fielding, operation and support, and finally, disposal. During all these phases Affordability must be addressed. It is addressed through design concept, product design, improvement of the design, production changes, changes made due to experience in the field, and updates/improvements to the design brought on by scientific advancement. There is a window of opportunity for the greatest cost reduction (Figure 1); during the conceptual phase of a program. The cost of change increases and the opportunity decreases as time advances.

 


Figure 1. Window of Opportunity

 

The “Where” enforces that the best place to apply Affordability methodology and practice is at the Design IPT level where design and cost trade-offs take place. Affordability methodology is discussed, managed, and applied in both the Program Management Team and the Design IPTs.

Through “How” the Design IPT Members are shown specifically how to fill out the standardized Affordability reports, to use the common estimating tools, follow and apply the Affordability iterative process, and to whom they should go for help. The standardized reports include a Trade Study Report Form (Figure 2) and 4-Corner Chart (Figure 3) for use in reviews.

 

Figure 2. Trade Study Report Form

 

 

Figure 3. 4-Corner Chart

 

The training for management of Affordability is specifically targeted to Program Management Team members and Senior Managers. Members of the Management Team typically include the following:

  • Program Manager
  • Systems Engineer
  • Configuration Manager
  • Stakeholders
  • Senior Management

The training class for the Program Management Team members should be from 4 to 8 hours long and focus on the following areas:

  • Who
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where

The “Who” again refers to the individuals within management that should be involved in the Affordability Process; what their responsibilities and duties are, and what is expected from them. The Affordability Plan outlines all the responsibilities of team members. It is important to note that the Senior Program Executive (normally the Program Manager) bears all the responsibility for applying Affordability on a program and meeting the cost goals. The written Affordability Methodology document gives the Program Manager the authority to implement the Affordability Process on a program.

For the management team “What” means the specifics of the Affordability process to be followed; as well as the exact tools and standardized reports that are required in the application of Affordability. The management team must insure that the proper procedures and standardized reports are used. An iterative process should always be followed (Figure 4).

 

 

Figure 4. Affordability Iterative Process

Program Management is responsible for emphasizing the “Why” of the Affordability Process. Continual reduction of cost while meeting customer performance and schedule requirements is the “Why”! By giving the customer a product that the customer considers a value, the company will soon earn a reputation as the company to go to for an affordable product. It becomes a company discriminator; eliciting more business.

“When” should the Affordability Process be used and addressed from a management point of view? The Affordability process is used throughout a programs life cycle; all the way from the conceptual phase, through design and development, production, fielding, operation and support, and finally disposal. Program Management must insist that Affordability is addressed in all Design IPT Meetings, Management Reviews, and Customer Reviews. Affordability should have a constant presence on a program. To emphasize this requirement, all team members should be evaluated in their performance reviews on their use and support of Affordability on the program.

Again, the “Where” enforces that the best place to apply Affordability methodology and practice is at the Design IPT level where design and cost trade-offs take place. As previously stated, Affordability methodology is discussed, managed, and applied in both the Program Management Team and the Design IPTs.

Organized Affordability training focused at both management and application of the Affordability Process is essential for its success. Through training, both Management and Design IPT Members will learn the: who, what, why, when, where, and how of Affordability. The more people that are trained and use the Affordability Process, the more it becomes ingrained in the way a company does business; it becomes second nature, and the way business is done. PRICE Systems is available to help design, and if necessary, deliver Affordability Training specific to an Organization.