Boeing has delayed the Dreamliner for yet another time. The latest delay, announced earlier in the month, marks the fourth time that the 787 project has been slowed in its attempt to get off the ground, in part thanks to supplier-related challenges. I recently read a post from a Babson professor that offers some specific insights into Boeing's supplier related delays. It's fascinating reading. The major challenge, according to a competitive study the author writes, is that when "Boeing outsourced a significant portion of the 787's design and assembly integration, it failed in overseeing those partners."
The study chalks Boeing's delays up to six problems: 1) " 'partners' factory workers lacked the skill to do their jobs; 2) Some of its partners lacked design staff; 3) Some of its suppliers could not produce enough parts; 4) Inability to control the 787 production schedule; 5) Lack of quality assurance process; and 6) Delays in design schedule that led to a fastener shortage." Even if these problems are overstated by Airbus in their own competitive analysis in an attempt to damage their chief rival's reputation, they do suggest an important finding. And that's sometimes Spend Management and Supply Management must work together. After all, we all want to save money. But if you're not thinking through all of the extended supply chain implications of what you're doing, things can go from good to bad quite fast indeed.