It annoys me when I read a headline ‘completed months ahead of schedule’.
It’s a cheap shot at the rest of the aircraft completions industry.
Its relatively easy to deliver ahead of schedule.
Simply create a schedule containing a load of float. Attention must be paid to the schedule critical path, but if overall the completion schedule has plenty of float their is good chance you will deliver the completed aircraft ahead of schedule.
What we don’t see with such performance claims, is an understanding of the complexity or the constraints placed on that particular project.
Was the aircraft available on time?
Were key supply chain items manufactured or delivered to quality on or ahead of schedule?
Or were they late but there was enough float existing to soak the impact up so that it didn’t really matter?
The promise to the client goes like this: “It will take 23 months to complete and deliver your custom jet,” so that’s what ends up being contracted against. Internally, the schedule reads 17.5 months providing the completion center 5.5 months float.
Unless relationships breakdown and the client doesn’t pay, or a supplier fails the schedule and therefore the result is a time pressure on the program as whole; then that’s 5 ½ months performance float to play with.
And so the aircraft took 19 months to complete, which to the client was a fantastic result! 4-months early.
It was actually 1.5 months late to the real schedule – so we have to question was performance therefore that great?
The completion center congratulate themselves.
“Announce it from the rooftops the completion center owners say – client’s love this – and the management team duly complies.
Is early really that good?
Let’s say the schedule and the contract align. The schedule therefore is 23-months and reflected in the contract.
The aircraft was completed and delivered in 19 months.
But is it?
What was the root-cause for early delivery? How good is the planning process in the completion center? Why did the schedule and program say 23 months and delivery was 19 months?
Now put yourself in the client’s shoes.
What if the client was paying for a standing army, i.e. paying their own program office; which includes their design team or completion program management to oversight the build?
Does the client foot the bill?
The contract featured a level of effort that covers the cost of the completion center white collar workforce for 24 months. Should the client benefit from the 4 months saving? 50-50 share between the completion center and the client?
Do they get a refund for the delta of 4 months when the team were not working on the project?
What if the client had planned for delivery in 23 months, and now they have an aircraft that is completed early but the client isn’t ready to be able to accept the aircraft.
There are multiple reasons why early isn’t great; neither is late.
So when completion centers market “we delivered the project X months early” you have to question why? And to who’s benefit?
Was it down to poor sloppy planning, supply chain or installation performance?
And, what was the impact of delivering early? Did the client suffer in any way?
I don’t blame completion centers from having float built into their schedule; its actually good practice because projects rarely run as planned – but there is a significant difference between 5 months, and 4, 6, or 8 weeks.
A realistic schedule would reflect a couple of weeks, and not 5 months.
Let’s think of our clients too.