Program Managers need to look beyond the veil of potential benefits to assess the risks of contractor proposed concurrent engineering efforts. The mere mention of concurrent engineering or its synonym, integrated product team, does not in itself reduce program schedule and cost. Evaluations should center upon the offeror’s past success with these initiatives and the fundamental steps leading to their implementation.
In a recent study of several programs involving the manufacture of Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) and support equipment, the effects of integrated product teams were assessed. Several of the programs studied had been competitively awarded to contractors that subsequently defaulted on their contract. The equipment programs were then successfully manufactured by the Prototyping and Manufacturing department at Naval Air Warfare Center, Lakehurst, NJ.
Data from the study indicated the success of the manufacture was directly attributable to the use of integrated product teams. Extensive communication between engineering, manufacturing, and testing teams led to the resolution of problems quickly. Face to face meetings were frequent and issues were resolved in minutes without resorting to technical memorandums or other protracted written documents. Collocation of the team members was considered the most critical factor to gaining any benefits from concurrent engineering.
Further evidence indicated the more complex a system, the more collocation was critical to its successful completion. Complexity, when measured by the number of parts, critical interfaces, and final testing requirements, was assessed for each program. The more complex programs had employed more frequent and local communication.