Manufacturing engineering project office

a critical link to supplier integration

Errol Gibbs, Senior Consultant, The PCI Group

David Hresko, Manager Manufacturing Engineering Project Office, General Motors

Introduction

As organizations begin to realize the value of project management (PM), certain discipline, infrastructure, and methodologies are being put in place to achieve PM success. One of the challenges facing major vehicle manufacturers centers around their ability to manage the interface between its business and that of its key suppliers. In the competitive marketplace, organizations can no longer approach the management of projects without supplier integration. Supplier delivery capability is a critical link to the successful vehicle manufacturer. Therefore, the supplier’s capability in PM is becoming a bigger factor in an organization’s ability to deliver quality products and services to the market on time.

Supplier delivery capability was one of the challenges that faced the Manufacturing Engineering group of the General Motors Powertrain (GMPT) Division in early 1998. With several major product lines scheduled to be rolled out over the next several years, GMPT had to develop an approach that would ensure that its PM capabilities as well as those of its key machine tool suppliers were sufficient to meet the timing, cost, and quality objectives of its product programs in the new millennium.

The Manufacturing Engineering group of the GMPT division, with the assistance of The PCI Group, a PM and business consulting firm, developed a strategy to enable supplier capability. Within the framework of a centralized project office known as the Manufacturing Engineering Project Office (MEPO), GMPT initiated an organizational PM assessment. The assessment was followed by a definition of process requirements, development and implementation of processes and procedures, organizational infrastructure development, and training elements. These steps were taken to accomplish the objective of delivering quality products to the market on time.

This paper focuses on these elements and the challenges that the team faced in the development and implementation of the MEPO.

Background

In recent years, PM has become more and more important to General Motors (GM) Corp. As the largest manufacturing organization in the world, the smooth execution of programs and the ability to deliver quality vehicles to the market on time and at a competitive price are key to maintaining GM’s competitive position. GM has made tremendous strides in improving its PM capabilities. Over the last few years it has invested millions of dollars in the development of methodologies and training designed to improve its performance on programs. Moreover, many of its supplier divisions have followed suit and invested in PM. GMPT is the division within GM responsible for supplying its parent with engines and transmissions. To ensure the success of its parent, GMPT and supplier divisions must do their part in effectively managing programs. Delays and cost overruns by any of GM’s suppliers trickle down and can have a direct impact on GM’s ability to deliver competitively priced quality vehicles on time. And so the story goes.

While GM and its supplier divisions do their part in ensuring the success of GM programs, so must outside suppliers to GM. These suppliers, often referred to as Tier 1 suppliers, supply GM with millions of dollars worth of parts and tooling. It doesn’t matter just how far down the supplier chain they are. Any part, regardless of how small or inexpensive, is critical to GM if it’s a critical part or system required for the vehicles.

A string of late deliveries of critical parts and tooling by its suppliers caused GM to take notice. This problem was further compounded by the fact that the working relationship between GMPT and many of its suppliers was tenuous at best. The combination of these two problems was the impetus for GMPT to take the required action to correct the situation and mitigate the risk of impacting the organization due to late delivery of product.

Assessment Approach

The essential first step in proposing a solution in any environment is to perform an organizational assessment. Using its PM assessment tool, PCI conducted five assessments of supplier organizations and three assessments of GMPT sites.

The assessment was conducted by reviewing data gathered from GMPT and supplier perspectives. The assessment tool employed, provided a one-for-one comparison of supplier and GMPT responses to identical questions. This information was analyzed and specific findings and recommendations were identified. All participants were informed that the information and comments gathered by the assessment team was considered confidential and that company and individual names would not be referenced regarding specific findings or recommendations.

Exhibit 1. Steering Committee and Advisory Council Structure

Steering Committee and Advisory Council Structure

The interviews conducted during the assessment focused on the effectiveness of communication regarding the following areas project integration, scope, timing, communication, and change control between GMPT and machine tool suppliers. In addition, a review of formal documented processes, procedures and guidelines currently in use at GMPT in the same areas was also conducted.

Findings

Key findings were identified in the areas of communication and critical PM processes for both GMPT and suppliers. Significant findings that adversely affected internal communication practices and critical PM processes at GMPT and suppliers included:

Communications

• GMPT

• A sense that GMPT leadership is segmented and lacks authority

• Project teams are not maintained throughout the life cycle of a project

• Electronic communications capability is inadequate

• Lack of consistent interface between GMPT and suppliers.

• Suppliers

• GMPT team is too formalized; decision-making hampered

• Lead project engineer has no authority; “single point failure” in communications process

• Lack of face-to-face contact with project engineer

• Confusion about authority of GMPT plant personnel vs. headquarters personnel.

Critical Project Management Processes

• The absence of a comprehensive Project Management Methodology (PMM) used by GMPT that can be applied to projects awarded to suppliers

• The lack of PM requirements as part of the request for quote (RFQ) for Machinery and Equipment

• The low level of PM knowledge and application within the supplier base.

Recommendations

Recommendations for improvement in the areas of communication and critical PM processes were developed. Recommendations included:

Communications

• Project team roles and responsibilities must be defined and communicated to all project stakeholders early in the program.

• Future programs must include an effective communications plan identifying all project stakeholders.

• A communications network must be established at all locations to allow for a consistent, timely flow of information.

• GMPT engineers must engage suppliers in the early phases of the program.

Exhibit 2. General Motors Powertrain (GMPT) Development and Implementation GMPT/Supplier PM Interface Requirements Process

General Motors Powertrain (GMPT) Development and Implementation GMPT/Supplier PM Interface Requirements Process

Exhibit 3. Integrated PM and Business Processes

Integrated PM and Business Processes

Critical Project Management Processes

• A comprehensive PMM must be developed within the manufacturing organization of GMPT. At a minimum, the PMM should include these processes: communication, project planning/reporting, project scope development, change control, and risk management.

• The PM requirements must be included in the GMPT standard purchase order documentation as a contractual line item.

Approval and Advisory Structure

At the onset of the MEPO implementation, it was determined that to ensure the success of the project, an approval and advisory structure was needed. The steering committee and advisory structure (see Exhibit 1) was used as a means of garnering support and approval for the MEPO throughout its development life cycle. The advisory structure consisted of a project sponsor, a steering committee, an advisory council, and supplier representatives. Each of these groups represented the GMPT manufacturing engineering organization from the executive level down to the functional groups. Several supplier organizations were also represented. The steering and advisory committee was kept informed of the progress of the MEPO and participated in the approval process at critical points in the development of the MEPO. This contributed significantly to the ultimate success of the MEPO.

Manufacturing Engineering Project Office (MEPO)

After careful analysis of the assessment findings, The PCI Group recommended the establishment of a Manufacturing Engineering Project Office project office (MEPO) as the most effective means of improving communication and deploying common PM processes within GMPT manufacturing engineering. It would serve as the focal point for successfully implementing PM discipline and practices within the organization. The major functions of the MEPO are the development, execution, and administration of PM processes, tools, templates, procedures, and guidelines within the organization. It would also provide the structure and environment to develop, train, and house personnel with the skills needed to perform all required PM functions within the organization. The key objectives in establishing the MEPO would include :

• Development and implementation of processes, templates, policies, procedures, and guidelines

• Development of the MEPO charter, organization structure, staffing requirements, roles and, responsibilities

• Development and delivery of PM process training

• Analysis of supplier capabilities and interfaces supporting PM reporting requirements

• Process piloting and operational transition

• Development and delivery of communication plans to successfully introduce the MEPO internally and externally

• MEPO staff transition: PCI personnel to GMPT personnel.

It was noted that the Transmission Division of GMPT had experienced similar delivery problems in dealing with its suppliers. A strategically developed MEPO could become the model for a common PM methodology that could be effectively and efficiently transferred to other operating groups in GMPT. The successful development and implementation of the MEPO, with the associated PM processes and tools, would enable GMPT and the supplier community to effectively manage tooling and equipment projects supporting the introduction and launch of new vehicle programs.

Phase I. PM Requirements

The first phase of development for the MEPO consisted of defining the PM requirements necessary to support an effective and efficient interface environment between GMPT and its suppliers. The high-level PM requirements were developed from the results of a series of onsite PM capability assessments that were conducted at GMPT headquarters, GMPT plants and a selected group of suppliers.

The process flow diagram (see Exhibit 2) is provided to show how PM requirements information was gathered. The diagram is numbered 1 through 8 to indicate the actual flow of information leading to final process design. Numbers from 1 through 4 indicate the actual sequence of assessments leading to the high-level definition of the GMPT/Supplier interface requirements. Numbers 5 through 8 indicate the input to final process design. Lamb Technicon (supplier) A PM capability assessment of a selected (depicted as number 4 of the flow diagram) provided a median perspective of the PM capability for the overall supplier community.

PM requirements for the design of MEPO processes consisted of four components:

• Process Flows

• PM Procedures and Guidelines

• Roles, Responsibilities, and Accountabilities

• PM Training and GMPT/Supplier Orientation.

Process Flow

The process flow diagrams provided a graphical presentation of the workflow processes among GMPT organizations. They consisted of main processes that might constitute several integrated subprocesses. These workflow processes provided the PM interface requirements between GMPT/Supplier in the areas of project integration, scope, risk, timeRisk, communication, and change control (see Exhibit 3).

Procedures and Guidelines

The PM procedures and guidelines detailed the steps to be followed in executing the processes. It also defined the time frame for decision-making and approval, including the necessary documentation (forms, templates, and tables) necessary for gathering product/PM control data.

Roles, Responsibilities, and Accountabilities

The steps noted also identified and defined the key roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities within each process and sub-process. A roles, responsibility, and accountability matrix was developed as an output of the process, procedures, and guidelines. These were documented to include the roles of all project stakeholders (both internal and external) identified in the respective process model.

Training and Orientation

PM orientation and training was necessary to familiarize all GMPT/Supplier stakeholders with the overall process design application. In order to fully benefit from the implemented process design solutions, training was required in the following four areas:

1. PM (Generic)—Generic PM orientation for all PM stakeholders.

2. PM Processes and Procedures—Specific training on new PM processes and procedures.

3.Primavera P3 Software (Advanced—Selected Audience)— Advanced Primavera P3 training for a selected audience of practitioners.

4. Facilitating Software Tools—Training in facilitating software tools that interface with Primavera P3 and other systems.

The PCI Group developed the training requirements and specifications for each category of training, including architecture, audience, and deployment strategy. This was done in collaboration with GMPT in-house training services to ensure consistency with approach and delivery where applicable.

Process II. Process Development and Design

The second phase of the MEPO implementation consisted of process development and design. Six processes critical to the success of the MEPO were developed and implemented: scope management, risk management, time management, schedule change control, communication management, and lessons learned. The development of the PM processes for GMPT followed a Process Modeling and Integration methodology. A business purpose was established for each process design, including a discrete start and end of each process. The design requirements were first developed into detailed process flow diagrams to identify and detail the information flow within and across departments throughout GMPT, MEPO, and supplier organizations. Detailing the major process steps and tasks associated with each step followed this. A Statement of Work provided the interfacing elements shown below. These elements provided the basis for generating the Roles and Responsibility Matrix (RASIC).

• Business Purpose

• Customer for Deliverables

• Process Owner

• Task Owner

• Task Responsibility

• Source of Input

• Customer for Deliverables

• Efficiency and Effectiveness Measures.

Another critical link in the integrated PM process (see Exhibit 3) Figure 1.0.] was the necessity to develop effectiveness and efficiency measures to assess the performance of each process during implementation and execution. These measurements are discussed later in the paper under the heading “Deployment of Measurements.”“Process Measures.”

Exhibit 4

image

Exhibit 5. Time Management Processes

Time Management Processes

Scope Management

The Scope Management Process is the process by which GMPT project content and work activities are defined, documented, approved, and controlled. Engineering scope changes, typically exist as a product design change that the customer has passed down to the supplier. However, the Tier 1 supplier or the Tier 2 supplier chain can also initiate scope changes as requests, requirements and/or recommendations that have been submitted. Scope Management was centered on the Simultaneous Engineering (SE) process. This was a weak link in the understanding between customer expectations and supplier understanding of the product scope. The SE process was supported by a Standardized Simultaneous Engineering Checklist, which provided a common set of deliverables, which, when completed constituted the formal end of simultaneous engineering.

The Scope Management Process focused on two types of scope, product scope and project scope (see Exhibit 4).

Completion of product scope is measured against the technical requirements while completion of project scope is measured against the Scope Management Plan.

Engineering changes initiated by the Supplier and/or customer was subsequently is managed by the use of a customized Manufacturing Engineering Change Request (MECR) form. The form was designed to include impacts to product scope, cost, risk, and timing, thus providing a link to other integrated systems. The link to the schedule management process allows Project Planners and Schedulers to anticipate and forecast timing impacts, and offset them using the schedule modification process.

Risk Management

The Risk Management process includes documented processes that are used to manage risk throughout the project. The primary functions of identifying, quantifying, documenting and managing risks reside with both the supplier and GMPT. This is accomplished by the use of a customized Risk Management Input Form. (See: Exhibit Number 00). The Risk Input Form allows the Risk Initiator to conduct an initial assessment of the risk in areas of Impact, Probability, and Detection Capability. The Risk Initiator is also required to associate any applicable Lessons Learned with the identified risk.

A Risk Management Committee has ownership of the Risk Management process. Identified risks are submitted to the Lead Manufacturing Engineer (LME) who chairs the Risk Management Committee. Risks are quantified to determine the severity of impact to product quality, performance, cost, and timing. The Risk Initiator (supplier or GMPT) is responsible for developing contingency plans and submitting them to the Risk Management Committee for assessment. To augment the process, Risk Contingency Plan Guidelines provide the basis for the Risk Management Committee to evaluate the identified risk. Critical risks and issues that cannot be resolved are elevated to senior management for resolution.

Time Management

The Time Management System consists of two major processes: Schedule Development and Schedule Management. Each of these has supporting subprocesses as shown in Exhibit 5.

Concurrent schedule development is an essential element for integrating the Supplier Project Execution Schedule with the GMPT Project Control Schedule. The critical points of reference in I the schedules are represented by a set of Standardized Project Performance Milestones (SPPM) generally accepted as key deliverables at various stages within each phase of the project. Joint GMPT and supplier project stakeholders defined each milestone in order to establish a common understanding of key deliverables.

Within five days after a Purchase Order (PO) is issued, a Schedule Development Kick-off meeting is conducted between the MEPO and Supplier Project Planners to start the integrated baseline schedule development process. The Create sub-process is initiated to develop and approve a project schedule baseline within 30 days after a PO is issued. GMPT LMEs and supplier Project Managers facilitate this process. The process involves an understanding of the scope of the overall project major components and subcomponents. A GMPT Standardized Vendor Matrix (SVM) substitutes for a classical Work Breakdown Structure, which details the sequence of machine operations and provides the basis upon which schedule subnetworks are developed.

The Status, Update, Publish and Modify subprocesses, are initiated thirty 60 days after the PO is issued, and these processes are executed on a monthly calendar reporting cycle through completion of the project. The Modify process is initiated when a major change is affected as a result of a risk, scope, or performance change, reflected in the MECR document.

An essential element of the Time Management System is the integration of schedule changes between the supplier and GMPT. Schedule changes incorporated in the supplier project execution schedules need to be understood and mirrored in the MEPO project control schedule. This is accomplished by the design of an integrated Schedule Change Control Process that requires the Supplier to complete a Schedule Change Control Request (SCCR) when a project milestone is impacted. Completion of the SCCR provides a record of changes throughout the life cycle of the project. All changes are approved by the LME or elevated to the Program Execution Team for a countermeasure solution, if the program timing is impacted.

The SCCR also provides an analysis of the proposed change, including the activities impacted. It also allows both the supplier and GMPT to assess the level of change, both within a department and across organizations. Changes affecting both organizations generally result in tradeoffs requiring senior management involvement in initiating countermeasure solutions. The Schedule Change Control process documentation provides a basis for documenting lessons learned in the Lessons Learned database.

Communication Management

The GMPT Communication Management system is designed to integrate PM communication among GMPT, Supplier, and MEPO on the basis of “single-point” ownership for supplying project information and reporting on project status. In order to maintain continuity of communication in an integrated environment, a back-up responsibility is identified for each key role in the process. The GMPT communication protocol includes timely identification of team structure (project specific reporting matrices), standardized meeting agendas, meeting minutes, working calendars, and action items and resolution plans (where applicable).

The design of the communication system facilitates the effective and efficient management of project communication between internal and external project stakeholders. The central element of the system design is the development of a document code for each document, and a role contact ID number for each discipline within GMPT, MEPO, and across supplier organizations. The Role contact ID is mapped to a specific role within the project, and subsequently linked to the project documentation code such as reports, tables, forms, and checklists. By selecting a document within the project, project stakeholders can send information, using a predefined communication network, to the appropriate project stakeholders via an e-mail-based address system.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned is an essential component in the enabling foundation for effective PM. The Lessons Learned process is designed to support continuous learning within GMPT. It is a tool for providing Manufacturing Engineers (ME) with access to problems and solutions already experienced relative to machine tool and equipment projects. The process also focuses on events that either exceeded or fell short of expectations as a means of enhancing organizational learning.

Typically, Lessons Learned processes are open ended, without a discrete start and end. Recognizing this fact, the Lessons Learned process was designed using the same criteria as other formal processes. The Lessons Learned design consists of the following:

• A common process methodology for collecting and documenting lessons learned at critical milestones during a project

• An information technology component for cataloging, archiving and retrieving lessons learned, based on searchable data fields

• An interface with the MEPO PM processes to access and review related lessons learned at the initiation of new machine tool projects.

In order to facilitate enterprisewide Lessons Learned, a Powertrain-wide Lessons Learned database is formally being rolled out across the enterprise and is accessible through a GM web site. The MEPO Lessons Learned approach will be seamlessly integrated into the Powertrain-wide Lessons Learned approach.

GMPT—Project Management Specification

The GMPT Machinery and Equipment Specifications and Document is an Internet-based document accessible to the supplier community. The specification resides on the GMPT web site for use by suppliers responding to a Request for Quotation (RFQ). It is a customized document, which describes the obligation on the part of the supplier with respect to the PM interface requirements among the supplier, GMPT, and MEPO. This is done to ensure that suppliers understand and comply with GMPT PM interface requirements.

System Infrastructure

The project office information system uses a shared drive on the network to store and share information. To organize its content and ease its use, a graphic interface (MEPO Console) was developed with file naming convention rules established. The Console provides links to processes, procedures, forms, templates, and software applications.

The project office utilizes readily available off-the-shelf computer software, including: Primavera Project Planner (P3), Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint) and Adobe Acrobat PDF Writer. P3 is the critical path method (CPM) scheduling software. The project team utilizes the P3 Mail to facilitate the status cycle. This utility enables project specialists to electronically forward a request for status and import the response into P3. MS Word and Excel are used to generate electronic and hard copy documents, forms and templates. These are e-mailed to recipients and returned to the Project Specialist as a part of the project-planning phase. MS Access is used as the database engine for the Communication, Change, Lessons Learned, and Risk Management tools for and generating associated reports. Adobe Acrobat PDF Writer allows electronic distribution of P3 and MS Access reports.

Organization Structure

Defining the roles and responsibilities is a critical enabler to the successful execution of the GMPT PM processes. Each level of resource was evaluated in the context of the strategic, tactical, and operational requirements within the MEPO. The appropriate level of resources and skill set was an essential requirement for enabling the PM processes. Resource requirements focused on the ability of MEPO staff to manage concurrent programs and at the same time maintain the appropriate level of interface among GMPT, MEPO, and supplier organizations.

The key positions and associated roles within the MEPO include:

MEPO Manager (Strategic Interface)—Provides overall management of the project office. Provides strategic PM guidance. Provides the critical link between MEPO and the corporate program planning organization..

Project Coordinator (Tactical Interface)—Provides tactical guidance to Project Specialists, and Field Specialists. Provides the key interface between MEPO and the GMPT technical environment at the ME level.

Project Specialists (Operational Interface)—Provides the critical operational interface between MEPO and the Supplier community during concurrent schedule development and management.

Field Specialists (Site Verification)—Provides the critical operational interface between MEPO and the Supplier community by providing schedule verification of physical “work-in-progress” at the Supplier site..

System Administrator (Software Administration)—Provides software system administrator support to MEPO staff and integrated project stakeholder organizations..

The number of each category of resource hinged upon the number and size of project (major or minor) and the support required to integrate MEPO with other project stakeholder organizations. Exhibit 4 depicts the structure of the MEPO in relation rotation to the Manufacturing Engineering organization.

Organizational Change Management

Organizational Change Management presents a particular challenge in large complex engineering environments. Often it is difficult to penetrate the organizational culture and affect change. An organizational assessment, however, is an essential first step in understanding the nature of the organizational systems and processes, in order to bring about change.

The investigative approach involved the process of engaging GMPT and suppliers in decision-making at the strategic level (Senior Managers), tactical level (Functional Managers), and Operational level (Manufacturing Engineers). In conducting a change readiness analysis, a survey instrument was applied to the organizational units that would be affected by the implementation of the MEPO.

Information obtained from the results of the survey led to the creation of a steering and advisory committee (see Exhibit 1). Members of this committee became the change agents for validating, approving, and communicating changes that would impact their respective organizations.

Supplier Orientation and Roll Out

Supplier orientation for the MEPO and the Supplier Roll Out process posed a particular challenge to both MEPO and the GMPT manufacturing engineering community. Engaging suppliers at the operational level required clear definition and understanding of the interface among PM Systems and processes. The design intent of the Supplier Roll Out process is to provide suppliers with the awareness and information necessary to satisfy the requirements of PM integration among GPMT, Supplier, and the MEPO. These processes, though familiar from an organizational perspective, requires a cross-organizational perspective, which involved a higher level of interface in dissemination, communication, storage and retrieval of PM documentation. Typical steps in the process include the following:

• Orientation to MEPO PM processes

• PM Specification in RFQ

• Line-Up Meeting

• Pre-Award Meeting

• Project Schedule Development

• Project Schedule Statusing.

The Supplier Roll Out Process required implementing PM processes to selected suppliers prior to and after issue of the PO. These processes were critical to ensuring that PM was totally integrated between GMPT and the suppliers.

Phase III. Process Validation and Implementation

Process Validation, also referred to as “proof-of-process” was essential in understanding the validity of the PM process in execution. This involved implementing the processes on minor projects with a controlled number of suppliers to validate the flow of information within GMPT and between GMPT and supplier organizations.

An inherent limitation with a limited engagement is the inability to extrapolate the capability in a fully integrated environment when all suppliers are engaged on a project at full throughput. The nature of the GMPT machine tool and equipment component environment, however, supports incremental implementation. A sampling of validation measures included:

• Environmental understanding of process flow

• Effectiveness and efficiency of application of processes

• Environmental understanding of level of detail

• Environmental understanding of common definitions

• Complexity in populating tables, forms, templates, and tabled

• Validation of checklist items

• Applicability of software infrastructure

• Expediency in communicating, storing and retrieval of data.

Process Implementation

Information obtained from process validation is valuable input to the process implementation phase. Implementation is also enhanced by PM process trainingPM process training also enhances implementation during Supplier Orientation and Supplier Roll Out. Process implementation provided the basis to document changes, while simultaneously implementing the changes during project execution. This approach lends itself to a less rigid implementation methodology.

All process changes are reviewed by the MEPO ManagerThe MEPO Manager reviews all process changes at various stages of implementation. All changes are documented in the Change Management System (CMS), and formally issued for information and use. Documents most affected by these changes are forms, templates, tables, and checklists. All Project Stakeholders have the responsibility to initiate a Change Control Request for a process in which he or she is engaged. Suppliers have the responsibility to assess any integrated system and initiate change through the Program Manager who is the primary PM interface with the GMPT environment. The Project Coordinator acts on behalf of the MEPO Manager to assess whether a change is valid and would enhance the process. The System Administrator notifies all applicable project stakeholders of approved and implemented process changes that impact processes in which they are engaged.

Process Measures

PM processes are enablers for the collection of data used in trend analysis. This data is used to measure the effectiveness of the MEPO on various parameters of a project.

Each process developed within the process documentation for GMPT included measurements of effectiveness, efficiency, and adaptability of the implemented PM processes. These are being used primarily for internal evaluation of the MEPO. A sampling of MEPO measures included:

• Percentage of time machine tool and equipment project schedules are updated within the predefined calendar window

• Percentage of time Schedule Modification plan was developed and implemented

• Percentage of time Monthly Project project Reports are developed on time to all applicable GMPT manufacturing engineering and Supplier organization

• Percentage of time Supplier reported 100% status on the predefined calendar reporting date

• Percentage of time project baseline schedule is approved 30 days after issue of PO.

These measures can be used as input to continually refine the GMPT business processes and improve on project performance.

Continuous Improvement

From a MEPO perspective, continuous improvement is not viewed as a separate initiative. It is viewed as an integral component of Lessons Learned and the Change Control initiative, which involves all project stakeholders. The Lessons Learned and Change Control processes call for all GMPT, suppliers, and MEPO project stakeholders to submit changes on a continuous basis. These changes are incorporated into existing processes in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of project execution. Common input forms used across the integrated environment aid these processes.

GMPT seeks to develop and implement a solution designed to improve the PM capabilities of GM manufacturing engineering organizations and the supplier organizations. The initial implementation of a MEPO within GMPT provides the impetus for standardizing the PM process across other manufacturing organizations such as Transmissions and Castings. MEPO management is currently engaged in assessments and evaluations of the infrastructure within these instructions to support a common PM approach.

Summary

The primary purpose of the MEPO is to provide the necessary infrastructure and associated processes needed to ensure adequate control and execution of GMPT machine tool projects. Another important dimension is the role the MEPO plays in the integration of requirements between GMPT and its suppliers.

In summary, the MEPO processes will allow project teams to focus on execution of their project deliveries and not the development of systems, processes, forms, and templates that are needed to manage the program. The intent is to simplify the PM process for all stakeholders and greatly reduce variation between projects.

The benefits derived from the institutionalization of the MEPO are as follows:

• Reflects management’s PM direction

• Promotes interdepartmental and cross-functional PM communications

• Identifies, defines, and streamlines customer and supplier PM requirements and commitments

• Fosters the identification and elimination of redundant and duplicate activities

• Provides a higher level analysis of the process

• Provides common processes and standardization of process definition and reporting

• Streamline the exchange of information by clearly defining inputs and outputs

• Improves the overall understanding of the process and how it links with other processes

• Allows for the synchronizing of timing with other processes

• Establishes standardized PM milestones within project phases

• Provides for templates and checklists

• Clarifies specific terminology related to GMPT-ME processes

• Provides for a common PM training tool

• Has flexibility to change as continuous improvements are made.

The MEPO serves as a model for future implementations of project offices within GMPT. Benefits noted above are being realized and observed throughout the division. To date, the MEPO has been elevated within the manufacturing engineering organization and is being extended to include transmissions and castings projects in addition to engine projects. With the MEPO model in place, future implementations across other functional groups will be considerably more cost effective and efficient. The MEPO will continue to play a key role for GMPT in meeting its original objective of reducing late delivery of machine tooling and improving its relationship with suppliers.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
September 7–16, 2000 • Houston, Texas, USA

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