Integrated program management propels aerospace and defense projects to take flight

June 15, 2023 | 5 minute read
Rick Bell
Senior Content Marketing Manager
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It’s been an astounding progression from the bumpy dirt airstrips of the early 20th century to the complex aerospace facilities accommodating NASA’s preparations to launch the next generation of astronauts into space—this time to circle the moon on Artemis II.

With billions of dollars invested in today’s aerospace and defense (A&D) programs, pinpoint accuracy and precision timing is required to assure the launch of any craft rolls out safely, on budget, and on time—be it a spaceship soaring through the heavens or an aircraft carrier cutting across deep ocean seas.

But getting an elite aeronautical program off the ground is hard. Just ask Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Program management: From Kitty Hawk to Cape Canaveral

Program management played an essential role in the Wright brothers’ historic flight at Kitty Hawk, just as it does for today’s A&D programs. The brothers manually created, managed, and stored thousands of documents—nary an Excel spreadsheet in sight—while also coordinating a supply chain of equipment and scheduling over a thousand test flights.

Orville and Wilbur integrated their skills and expertise with program management to overcome challenges, break new ground, and finally achieve historic results when the Wright Flyer puttered above the ground for 12 seconds, launching the first successful motor-operated flight on that lonely North Carolina beach in 1903.

Saying that we’ve come a long way from the Wrights’ landmark flight is indeed an understatement. While the Wright brothers couldn’t imagine their development of a rudimentary flying machine ultimately would send global fleets of aircraft soaring to stratospheric heights, they nonetheless laid a foundation of program management integration that future generations of A&D organizations would build upon.

Their tools and solutions for program management likely included risk analysis, scheduling, resource management, and reporting. This enabled Orville and Wilbur to manage their projects, analyze and minimize the risk of project delays while improving safety, mitigate cost overruns, and manage other issues effectively and efficiently. Their pioneering work in aviation has given flight to a new era of integrated program management in A&D today.

The basic project management challenges remain much the same in A&D as it did at the turn of the 20th century. The scope of projects today under a NASA or Defense Department program is the compilation of thousands of individual schedules, resources, and materials that require intensely detailed planning and coordination.

integratted program management
'Improve Program Management in Aerospace and Defense'

A new ebook titled “Mission: Possible—Improve Program Management in Aerospace and Defense,” now available for download, charts how integrated program management helps contractors supporting the A&D sector improve planning, scheduling, and cost management.

Integrated program management is essential for A&D organizations to make space travel, as well as build and develop other high-value assets such as ships and weapons systems, a reality.

Achieving escape velocity is one of the biggest challenges they face. Given that a spacecraft needs to travel at about 25,000 miles per hour to enter orbit, a highly technical launch pad must integrate with complex guidance systems to get it off the ground and into space.

The ebook also spells out the top three challenges to make integrated program management in A&D a reality.

1. Standardizing processes across an organization with enterprise tools

When companies in A&D take on large-scale contracts from a government agency or private company, strict planning and scheduling guidelines must be followed all while ensuring costs are managed correctly. To prevent these issues, companies need to standardize processes both within and across organizations by implementing enterprise-grade tools for planning, scheduling, and cost management.

2. Building interdependencies between projects that roll up into a single program

Using an enterprise tool for planning and scheduling across the program team helps to eliminate these challenges and allows companies to seamlessly create the critical dependencies across departments without compromising any security protocols.

3. Completing program or enterprisewide data reporting

Much like the need to standardize planning and scheduling, having comprehensive reporting completed across the enterprise will reduce errors and improve program outcomes.

Protect and extend the value of planning, scheduling, resourcing, managing, and executing projects and programs across your entire portfolio with Oracle Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management.

By integrating Primavera P6 into Primavera Unifier, A&D contractors can more efficiently track progress against budget and schedule using processes such as progress measurement and earned value management to ensure accurate payments and keep projects on track. Integrated cost and schedule capabilities combined with project controls helps contractors see the impacts to budgets as well as schedule of potential changes to enable more informed decision-making.

Integration with other enterprise systems also provides A&D organizations with a more comprehensive view of its operations, enabling confident decision-making and improved business performance.

From the Wright brothers’ humble bike shop in Ohio to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, proficiency in A&D program management continues to propel the evolution of flight to new heights.

To learn more, read the ebook here.

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Rick Bell

Senior Content Marketing Manager


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