The study, "Forging A Common Vision: PTC Survey on Improving Product Development in the Aerospace and Defense Industry" announced at the Paris Air Show, revealed that aerospace and defense (A&D) industry senior management executives and operational executives see the world in fundamentally different and conflicting ways. Management and operational executives disagree on a wide range of important issues -- including the importance of breakthrough innovation in creating new markets, the need to increase the efficiency of the development process, the importance of skilled personnel, and the role of internal IT departments in product development.
"We have many divisions, but lack a company-wide, coherent approach to product development," remarked one survey participant, a management executive responsible for strategic planning at a major European aerospace and defense company.
PTC commissioned Bayer Consulting, an independent research firm, to conduct the survey of 151 senior executives at major A&D companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. One half of the interviews were conducted with senior management executives who had direct experience with how their company uses product development to achieve its business goals and create value. The remaining interviews involved operational executives with direct responsibility for implementing product development strategies. The companies included both prime contractors and suppliers.
"A&D companies must ensure that their management and operational executives share a common vision of product development and a common understanding of what is required to improve the product development process," said PTC Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer James Heppelmann, commenting on the study's results.
"The divergence of views between management and operational executives raises serious concerns for companies attempting to improve product development," Heppelmann stressed. "To succeed, these companies must bring together management executives and operational executives and reach agreement on product development goals and the investments in business processes, people, and technology that will be required to achieve them."
While the study found that management and operational executives were in accord on the importance of continually improving product quality and performance, there was a divergence of opinion on the importance of breakthrough innovation to develop new markets. This is a critical issue in an industry where the cost of designing a new aircraft or weapons system can total billions of dollars.
Most management executives reported that their companies were focused on achieving incremental improvements to current products, rather than in using innovation to create entirely new markets. In sharp contrast, most operational executives said that their companies relied greatly on a strategy of breakthrough innovation designed to develop new markets. This divide reflects a long-standing tension between the corporate center and its major programs. Their divergent views clearly demonstrate a need to create a common understanding of strategic goals. Management executives may also lack an appreciation of the operational realities of product development.
"While management and operational executives agreed that product development is critical to delivering value, there was a great gulf of opinion on key issues," Heppelmann concluded. "A first step towards improving product development will be ensuring alignment between management and operational objectives, especially when it comes to such critical issues as the priority placed on breakthrough innovation to create new markets. Successful companies will be those that can create and execute a vision of the role of product development in creating value that is shared throughout the entire organization."
PTC develops, markets, and supports software solutions that help manufacturers win with superior products. PTC is the world's largest software company with a total commitment to product development. The company services more than 35,000 customers worldwide. Further information on PTC is available at http://www.ptc.com/ or call 1-888-782-3776, ext. 901.
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