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Manufacturing as a discipline has undergone dramatic changes in the last ten years. There is no end in sight to this change. Past concerns about quality and productivity have given way to the assumption that Six Sigma Quality and Lean techniques will become the absolute minimum for surviving enterprises. The global definition of quality in the industrialized world moves toward including environmentally compatible and sustainable manufacturing. The lean focus on right thing, right amount, right place, right time, with zero waste is now commonly accepted, if imperfectly implemented.
Today's manufacturing enterprises are global in scale and competition. Technology acceleration continues in both products and processes. Clock speeds increase and all advantages are temporary. Regardless of product or process, "creative destruction" has become a way of life for all global manufacturers - improve or die. E-commerce, digital data exchange, process simulation and modeling, and the Internet now make the concept of "design-anywhere, build-anywhere" a daily reality for most of our larger corporations. Today's paradigm is the distributed, agile enterprise.
Acquisition reform has given program managers more freedom to make intelligent decisions. However, the 5000 holds the PM responsible for ensuring that production preparations, producibility and cost targets are met, while providing very little practical guidance. This can present a major management challenge.
In today's environment, where should the PM's focus be? Prior to acquisition reform, the PM's role was mainly that of oversight. Today the emphasis is on insight and cooperative management with the contractor. How far does the PMO go in implementing this philosophy? Does the use of performance specification contracting mean there should be no insight? Does developing an insight into contractor operations and processes constitute telling the contractor how to do his job? Should a production plan be required with incremental manufacturing reviews or will the IPT environment suffice? How can I use design for producibility to help meet CAIV goals? Does the program really have a manufacturing strategy and is it integrated with the acquisition strategy? How will the adaption of E-manufacturing, affect the ability of my contractor to perform on my program?
These types of questions are pertinent in today's environment. Perhaps the greatest benefit comes not from a specific decision but from the analyses and open discussions that make sure the right questions have been asked before tough issues are assumed away or ignored under the guise of acquisition reform.
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