Barker, S G and Hendry, L (2005) Process improvement in BAe Systems and the wider aerospace sector. Working Paper. The Department of Management Science, Lancaster University.
Purpose: To research the change management processes used to implement ‘world class’ improvements in a major aerospace company, BAE SYSTEMS, and to propose a model for process improvement in the wider aerospace sector. Design/methodology/approach: The research was undertaken as a longitudinal study over a period of five years. A variety of research methodologies were used at various stages of the research including action research and observation. Semi-structured and unstructured interviews were used to gather qualitative data along with documentary evidence of the processes being used. Findings: There are three key findings. Firstly, an understanding of the production stages in the aerospace sector: future project; new product; sustain and return to work. Secondly details of a matrix-based approach and the issues regarding its implementation in a large organisation are discussed. Thirdly, a generic set of principles to aid process improvement in the aerospace sector is proposed. Research limitations/implications: Given that the study is based in one company, there are issues regarding the generalisation of the results. A potential further research project would entail the implementation of the proposed generic principles in another aerospace organisation. Practical implications: For BAE SYSTEMS, this research project aided their understanding of the issues involved in rolling out a process improvement program in a large organisation.Originality/value: Until recently, most of the research into process improvement had either been universalistic or aimed at another type of industry, such as the automotive industry. This research helps to address the specific needs of the aerospace industry.
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