Government Agency Improves On-Time Delivery
Aircraft carriers are much more than ships. They’re cities at sea, complete with their own airstrips, nuclear power sources, and advanced radar systems. Given the formidable size and complexity of these carriers, it’s no wonder that construction schedules are charted in years, rather than months. Despite the generous lead times, however, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA)—the government agency responsible for these projects—was missing deadlines and losing financial ground by the millions. On the recommendation of a trusted vendor, the Program Executive Office for Aircraft Carriers enlisted the help of DeWolff, Boberg & Associates (DB&A) and started getting the job done on time and within budget in only a few short months.
The Program Executive Office for Aircraft Carriers (PEO) is responsible for constructing new carriers, overhauling existing carriers, and keeping in-service carriers in top condition. For several years in a row, NAVSEA/PEO consistently missed completion dates, resulting in multi-million dollar cost overruns. They had brought in consultants to address the problem but had been unable to find a sustainable solution. When NAVSEA/PEO reached out to DB&A to begin an engagement, they were experiencing some significant struggles:
- High turnover rates
- Reactive culture
- Burnout among employees and leaders
- Additional workload from Operation Enduring Freedom
- Lack of consistent communication
To begin the consulting engagement, DB&A’s Analysis Team completed a two-week assessment of NAVSEA’s Washington D.C. location. The results of this assessment revealed some root causes of the struggles being experienced throughout the facility.
- Lack of standardized operating procedures
- Lack of standardized project schedules
- Poor quality communication with external contractors
- Poor quality internal communication
- Lack of operational training procedures
Throughout the consulting engagement, DB&A focused on enhancing the leadership skills of front-line managers and transforming the management culture from reactive to proactive. To accomplish these goals, the Project Team implemented a variety of management tools, which provided managers with the information needed to identify barriers to production.
- Weekly activity logs
- Daily team huddles
- Weekly operational review meetings
In addition to the management tools, members of the Project Team partnered with front-line managers to reverse-engineer a project schedule system to ensure program objectives were met on time and within budget. Schedules for each of the different programs were laid out and then the Team worked backward from the ultimate completion deadline to process-map the steps that had to take place in order to meet that schedule. This shifted the focus from long-term deadlines to short-term goals.
The process outlined by DB&A during the consulting engagement produced an abundance of immediate results and provided a sustainable solution to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future. Not only did the engagement provide substantial amounts of savings, but it also provided the following operational improvements:
- A repeatable process that NAVSEA could implement without ongoing intervention
- Improved communication and information-sharing
- Quantifiable data to support worker appraisals and compensation
- Improved efficiency without compromising quality
Within 34 weeks:
- $300 MM saved on a new construction program
- $55 MM cost overrun circumvented
- $5.79 MM saved in contractor fees
“Please get out and show the rest of the Navy this program. It is exactly what I want every organization in the Navy to do…now!”~ Then-Chief of Naval Operations