The Dreamliner promises to be of benefit in this regard. Project Description The goal of the project is to design product and process for manufacturing the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner. The project will involve incremental monitoring of the 787 Dreamliner, so that approaching problems with the innovative aircraft will be apparent before the project progresses too far. Clearly, the Dreamliner project is a huge undertaking in which there are myriad opportunities to digress from the stated schedule devised at the outset.
As an example, there are more than 100 companies involved with the Dreamliner production and development in Australia alone (Hopkins, 2005), and the Dreamliner will not even be assembled there. The assembly plant is expected to cost $1 billion and to require the labor of 800 to 1,200 employees at an average salary of $65,000 each (Cronan, 2003). Problem Statement The void that the Dreamliner intends to fill holds at least two facets, one within Boeing and the other within the commercial air passenger industry.
As indicated before, nearly all Boeings customers have had difficulty in the past, and two more, Delta and Northwest, recently joined the list of large, established airlines operating under Chapter 11. Fuel costs constitute the single greatest concern for these airlines at present, though fuel costs alone do not account for the costs of less than astute management over the past decade or so. These and other problems within the airline industry have led to difficulties at Boeing as well, in that airline customers have not purchased as many new aircraft in recent years as in the past. Boeing seeks to rectify this situation with the Dreamliner.
As Boeing project manager of the 787 Dreamliner, it will be important to correctly identify the scope of the project and adhere to the defined view. Otherwise, the project easily could become susceptible to creep and expand in unplanned ways (Gray and Larson, 2005). As Boeing project manager of the 787 Dreamliner, it will be critical to be particularly watchful for signs of creep because so many other companies are involved in the 787 Dreamliner project. Of course Boeing has final say and control of the project; however it can expect many of the companies involved to voice ideas and opinions, some of which can be quite valuable.
Hopkins (2005) reports that literally hundreds of Australian companies are involved with the Dreamliner; another author reports that Vought and Alenia North America have finalized arrangements forming a joint venture for the specific purpose of joining and integrating fuselage sections manufactured in a variety of European locations (7E7 production arrangements, 2004). Mission Justification Boeings Vision 2016 mission statement spells out three business strategies (Arkell, 2005). These three strategies are: ¢ Run healthy core businesses¦ ¢ Leverage core strengths¦ ¢ Open new frontiers (Arkell, 2005).
The Dreamliner will make a positive contribution to the health of Boeings core business, and in so doing leverage the companys core strengths. It certainly opens new frontiers, in that there is not another aircraft like it. Airbus currently is retrofitting an older model to take on an appearance similar to the Dreamliners, however the Airbus offering will not be able to offer the fuel savings possible in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. High-Level Scope Gray and Larson (2005) provide a Project Scope Checklist containing the project objective, deliverables, milestones, technical requirements, limits and customer reviews.
This certainly is a broad enough scope without being so broad that the 787 Dreamliner project manager could go astray with it. At the same time, the checklist can be used as a guide to assessing Boeings approach to the project to date. It likely does not have all the technical matters in place yet; however the first several requirements of the checklist already are in place and have been for some time. Chung-Suk and Gibson (2001) recommend the use of a project definition rating index to assess the appropriateness of the scope of any large project. Measuring Project Success
There are several approaches and measures that as project manager can use to measure schedule progress to determine the success of the 787 Dreamliner project. There are several orders for the aircraft, likely with significant deposits attached to them. Failing to complete the project on time has the potential of negating at least a portion of the contracts that the company already has for the 787 Dreamliner. The product itself also can be used as a point of assessment of the projects success. Some detractors claim that Boeings reliance on plastic, for weight reduction and therefore greater fuel efficiency, is unfounded and unproven.
As the Boeing 787 Dreamliner project manager, a plan will be devised for assessing project success with regard to using plastics before rolling out the first production model. Taverna (2004) reports that Boeing will use Dassault Systemes Product Lifecycle Management system in managing the design and production processes for Boeings 7E7 Dreamliner. The life cycle management system outlines the role of the key element to be included in this project that includes the virtual product development concept, the virtual product management system, the virtual reality center, and the Falcon Global Test Bed (Taverna, 2004).
Application of Best Practices Two best practices in project management that could be applied to the project to ensure its success is to maintain tight control by the project manager on the various aspects of the project and to control the number and complexity of changes allowed in design or production processes after the start of the project. Hollmann (2003) discusses the pressures that several decades of downsizing and outsourcing have caused for many industries. Boeing has had difficulty in this area already, though its experience was several years ago.
Boeing decreased its workforce so drastically that it could not efficiently take advantage of new government contracts and had to hire inexperienced, unproven design personnel. Though Boeing will be outsourcing much of the subassembly work associated with the Dreamliner project, it maintains its own design and project management personnel to provide greater accountability and incentive for bringing the project in on time and within budget. Boeing also practices astute change control in all its projects, and there is no reason to believe that the Dreamliner project will prove to be an exception.
One of the greatest threats to any project is failing to properly define it at the outset and changing aspects of it well after it begins. Not making changes obviously needed results in an inferior, or worse, product; adding all the changes that possibly could be made has the effect of delaying the project and preventing it from being completed on time. As Boeing 787 Dreamliner project manager, it is paramount to maintain tight control of changes, disapprove most while allowing only those that make the product safer, more reliable or more attractive to customers. Aligning the Project with Boeings Business and Conclusion
The project aligns well with Boeings core business and with its stated corporate mission. When it becomes available to the market, the Dreamliner will exist as a unique product not available from any other organization. As stated, Airbus will offer a possible substitute product; however one that is not likely to be equal to the Dreamliner in any aspect. Boeings history and reputation further will support the Dreamliner in terms of sales to commercial airline companies. Boeing learned its outsourcing lessons several years ago, and currently strives to right size rather than to become so lean it cannot function at full capacity.