What makes engineering excellent?
Engineering value chains with outstanding services
Engineering excellence is distinguished by services that stand out due to their degree of innovation, complexity, performance level and value for customers. These kinds of services require best practices from engineering organisations in three areas:
- KNOW-HOW – Deep technical know-how and implementation
- VALUE – Close partnership with stakeholders
- CULTURE – Innovation-oriented organisational and employee culture
Deep technical know-how and implementation
- Understanding technology
- A focus on the interactions and management of the system interfaces
- Ensure system integration
- High project management competence
Building on a profound understanding of the technologies for individual system components, engineering excellence focuses on the system aspect of the products. Taking into consideration possible non-linear interactions between the system elements, interfaces need to be managed and a marked focus placed on system integration. The extended system character of ‘smart’ products presents special challenges for engineering. Not least, it needs best-practice solutions in project management in order to be excellent in the areas of time-to-market and cost control.
Close partnership with stakeholders
- Agile management of product requirements
- R&D collaborations and open innovation
- Management of opportunities and risks
- A focus on business value
Value means benefit generation for the stakeholders of the company, especially the customers. Engineering excellence operates in close proximity with the stakeholders and is able to cover requirements and solutions in agile feedback loops (minimum viable products, short design-build-test cycles…).
Peak performance in engineering has less and less to do with the performance of the engineering department of a single company, but will develop increasingly from networking with external best practice sources. These sources concern both technical expertise (R&D collaborations) as well as market and product benefit expertise (open innovation).
Exceptional innovations typically build on unpredictable creative ideas, many of which are not successful. Engineering excellence does not, however, necessarily see this uncertainty as a risk but rather as a basis for the development of innovation. In terms of the option character, engineering excellence promotes the pursuit of new, yet unknown paths. Hypothesis tests (for requirements and product concepts) and decision points are positioned in the engineering value chain where the knowledge gain for the selection of successful development paths is greatest.
Finally, engineering excellence is focused on the economic success of the engineering services. The economic assessment is carried out under risk aspects (option assessment) and taking account of opportunity costs (e.g. cost of delay), which are not recognised in conventional result calculations.
Innovation-oriented organisational and employee culture
Engineering organisations that provide sustainably excellent performance have outstanding
- Ownership and accountability
- Critical thinking
- Right people in the right place
- Learning skills within the organisation
Best-practice leadership focuses the organisation on success factors, encourages staff development and promotes innovation and learning. Successful collaborations in innovative and complex projects make great demands on the individual employees in terms of ownership and accountability for the services to be provided. Integrity and trust are the cornerstones of excellent engineering organisations. Excellent companies develop a culture that enables and promotes critical thinking in the sense of questioning previous approaches and permanently searching for unconventional solutions. When it comes to employee selection, the high demands on employees mean that, in addition to professional expertise, employees must also personally have the motivation and interest for excellence. Engineering can be said to be sustainably excellent if the organisation exploits its capabilities for learning to permanently increase its knowledge, learn from mistakes and benefit from changes.
How can engineering be made excellent?
Management model for engineering excellence
ROI has developed the Engineering Excellence System, a management model whose system elements interact to align the engineering value chain consistently with best practices in know-how, value generation and culture.
In this excellence system, a large number of flexibly usable best-practice modules are made available to the engineering organisation, which are provided by a management framework in the dimensions
- R&D mission and strategy
- Performance measurement
- Transfer of best practices
- Methods and tools
- Excellence programme management brought into line and held together.
Examples of best-practice modules are
- R&D strategy and roadmapping
- Agile requirements management
- Lean development
- System life-cycle management (SysLM)
- Smart-product development processes
- Platform architectures and platform life-cycle management
- Value-flow-oriented organisation
- R&D shop floor management
- R&D performance measurement
- R&D maturity scan
- Engineering excellence cycles
How is the Engineering Excellence System introduced?
The introduction of the Engineering Excellence System follows a 5-stage engineering excellence cycle, which is run through several times until the target maturity level is reached:
- Assessment of the engineering excellence maturity degree
- Definition of an excellence roadmap
- Specification of the cycle objectives and preparation of an action plan
- Implementation of measures
- Monitoring of target achievement
The evaluation of excellence maturity is done using a standardised maturity scan according to the dimensions of the Excellence Management model. According to the current maturity of the organisation, the roadmap and the state to be reached in the next cycle are set. The implementation of measures is subjected to continuous monitoring and the achievement of the desired degree of maturity is checked. Throughout the cycles, methods and tools are introduced, trained and applied. During transfer and implementation, we rely on performance-oriented programme management. Consistent change management encourages the creation of a sustainable culture of excellence.