As a result of the lack of milestone events and design reviews the production baseline is fluid and there are no milestones to provide rigor and assure that development of all events required to enter into production are in sync. For example, our hardware development maturity is significantly advanced in comparison to software development. In fact, we plan to enter into LRIP using immature software that will not be mature for a year or two after LRIP and we plan to perform qual of the system using fairly mature hardware but immature software.
Because we lack the design reviews typically placed on DOD ACAT 1 production contracts I have been wondering to what extent we can leverage the MRA/MRL-8 requirement we placed on contract to enforce the rigor that the design reviews would otherwise provide. Looking at the criteria for conduct of an MRA I note that there is little difference between the criteria of an MRA and the criteria of a Production Readiness Review (PRR). In fact, the primary difference between the MRA and the PRR seems to be that the MRA is an incremental process that starts at MRL-1 and the PRR is a point in time review that occurs just prior to MS-C. Since the MRL-8 assessment we have on contract occurs just prior to the LRIP decision (where MS-C would be if we had a MS-C) then it seems to me that our MRL-8 MRA is little different from a PRR.
Looking at PRR checklist criteria I note that there are elements such as assuring that the Engineering and Product Design baseline is complete, mature, and documented. To me, this sounds very similar to the exit requirements for conduct of a Critical Design Review (CDR), which we did not put on contract. Similarly, the elements normally validated in a FCA/PCA/ILS are revisited as closure criteria in the PRR checklist.
I have been thinking that the requirements for conduct of an MRA are sufficiently similar to a PRR that I could perform the MRL-8 assessment to the requirements of a PRR. Moreover, the requirements of a PRR contain the elements of preceding reviews such as the FCA/PCA and CDR. Looking at the MRA deskbook guidance for conduct of an MRA I note there is significant leeway for the depth and scope of the MRA. In other words, I could perform an MRL-8 assessment as a superficial event or I could perform the MRL-8 assessment using a large team and spending weeks in the contractors plant assessing their MRL-8 capability in extreme detail.
If I were to perform my MRL-8 assessment using a large team of SME's and using typical PRR checklist guidance and if I scheduled sufficient time I should be able to duplicate much of the previously bypassed content of the FCA/PCA and CDR as part of the MRA.
I would like to get your thoughts on this idea as well as benefits and shortcomings. How in depth do programs typically get when they conduct an MRA?
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Your question involves the depth in conducting an MRA and whether an MRA could suffice for a PRR in cases where a PRR is not conducted. According to DoD AcqNotes, "a Production Readiness Review (PRR) assesses a program to determine if the design is ready for production. It assesses if the prime contractor and major subcontractors have accomplished adequate production planning without incurring unacceptable risks that will breach thresholds of schedule, performance, cost, or other established criteria. PRRs are normally performed as a series of reviews toward the end of Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) Phase and should be conducted to identify and mitigate risks as the design progresses. The PRR evaluates the full, production-configured system to determine if it correctly and completely implements all system requirements. The review determines whether the traceability of final system requirements to the final production system is maintained. A successful review is predicated on the determination that the system requirements are fully met in the final production configuration and that production capability forms a satisfactory basis for proceeding into Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and Full-Rate Production (FRP). The PRR should review: The manufacturing readiness process, the Quality Management System, production planning, system requirements compliance, inventory management, and supplier management." From this description, a manufacturing readiness assessment (MRA) is one area considered in a Production Readiness Review. A PRR covers a wider scope of concerns and risks such as whether the system correctly and completely implements all system requirements and whether there is traceability of the system requirements back to the design.
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