Performance Through Empowerment

Background

BAE Systems provide the world’s most advanced technology-led defence, aerospace, and security solutions. The globally-recognised organisation is also responsible for the design and manufacture of Naval ships and submarines, as well as their state of the art combat systems and equipment.

The key objective for this project was the design and implementation of a performance incentive system to engage and empower the workforce within the Fabrication Department. Based in Govan, the Department is one of two major production areas within BAE Systems, concerned with the construction of Naval vessels.

The initial phase of this implementation involved the introduction of a bespoke Schedule Based Working system, into a large sheet steel construction department – covering a workforce of approximately 120 people.

A thorough performance analysis of key areas within the Fabrication Department, revealed that the Fabrication Shop was not performing consistently at a level whereby Schedule Based Working could be successfully integrated. In a bid to make necessary developments to working practices, local management at BAE identified a need to improve and reduce performance variations particularly for time delivery and Cost Performance Indicators [CPIs].

Project7’s resources designed and supported the strategy for performance improvement and stabilisation. This included the coaching of Integrated Work Team Leaders and Supervisor levels, together with the incorporation of Lean visualisation and process governance.

“I appreciate the contribution of P7 to the BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships improvement agenda. We are seeing measurable improvements in productivity, increased flexibility and contribution from our staff in areas where P7 have been involved.” William McAlister – Operations Strategic Capability Manager

Challenges

A key challenge encountered during the project was the traditional “instruct and do” approach of daily supervision, which existed in the workforce, with an “instructed task only” working style. Extensive coaching of both workforce and supervision were required to effectively transition the team to the new expectations and changes in working behaviours and environment.

Employees had previously been familiar with formal instruction, but now needed guidance in recognising their individual responsibilities, taking ownership with tasks, and making independent decisions to achieve joint targets.

Solutions

In order to overcome this working mentality, and implement the required changes, Project7 devised and implemented a Performance Improvement strategy, encompassing 6 key focus areas:

  1. Improved standardisation and reporting of earned value across all levels of programmes and operations, sharing organisational targets across natural groups of employees.
  2. Clearer definition of roles within the Planning function – with an increased focus on workload variation reduction.
  3. Improved planning accuracy in determining work hours’ norms through study of each completed unit.
  4. The implementation of Daily Visual Reporting via Short Interval Control [SIC]. Allowing all members of the workforce a clear line of sight to key performance information.
  5. The introduction of Management Process Confirmation; setting Leadership expectations for Operations Management. Creating a shadow of the leader to encourage workforce confidence.
  6. Based upon 1-5, the introduction of a Schedule Based Working approach; whereby natural workgroups share a common productivity target, and are supported and encouraged to work collaboratively and flexibly to achieve these targets.

These key focusses contributed to the development of a simple, fast CPI tracking process at shop floor level. Standard reporting is now a daily, shared event – which has helped all levels of the workforce to understand, share and work collaboratively to achieve delivery and cost performance targets within manufacturing. Shop floor operations, performance and issues are escalated and supported quickly by management – whose role has been redefined from monitoring performance, to supporting and engaging the workforce, in order to enable them to reach agreed performance targets.

The implementations have resulted in a significant impact on performance; with improved daily engagement and a notable transformation in company culture.

Impact on Performance