IPTs, Another Move In The Wrong Direction!
I saw Boeing use IPT's on a complex satellite system and it was a nightmare. The "Program Manager" was lazy and pointed to the IPT's to do their job, they in-turn did similar tasks in very different ways making sure that no one knew what was happening between various elements of the entire system. Imagine all the engineering drawings and specifications being done to different standards. The expertise generated from years of effort housed in the functional organizations was made null and void! Junior engineers became czars in their little area of expertise and the PM and Customer wondered why this was happening. I have up in disgust and retired. The stupidity of the company drove me out not to say the billions of dollars lost forever producing zero! It is a sad commentary on a once proud organization.
1. What are they?
The Hype: IPTs are the organizational structure resulting from Integrated Product Development (IPD) implementation. IPT membership is made up of multi-functional stakeholders working together with a product-oriented focus. This team is empowered to make critical life cycle decisions for the weapon system. Because the product and system development activities change and evolve over its life, team membership and leadership will likewise evolve. While marketing personnel, acquisition planners, project managers and design engineers may be the most prominent members early in the life cycle, provisioners and item managers gain a bigger voice during engineering and manufacturing development. Equipment specialists and mechanics may be the lead members during the operations and maintenance phase, with the design engineers returning once again if a major modification is needed.
The Truth: The person in charge of the IPT thinks they know it all and downplays the importance of items he or she does not understand leaving the product full of holes. Furthe, the checks and balances once built into the process are gone so you end up with a product (if you are lucky) that is substandard.
2. Why are they important?
The Hype: IPT's are what make Integrated Product Development (IPD) work. They are created for the express purpose of delivering a product or managing a process for their customer(s). Implementation of IPD represents a transition from a functional stovepipe focus to a customer product focus. Teamwork within the framework of IPD drives the functional and product disciplines into a mutually reinforcing relationship which helps remove barriers to the IPT success.
The Truth: They neutered the "functional organizations" who had the expertise and CHECKS AND BALANCES to change what was wrong. Now we assume the leader is a know it all who will make it all right. Leave it to an Engineer to care about Quality or Configuraiton Management or any of the other myriad of things that really make a program a success - Ain't gonna happen!
3. When are they used?
The Hype: IPT's are applied at various levels ranging from the overall structure of an organization to informal groups functioning across existing units. The purpose of an IPT is to bring together all the functions that have a stake in the performance of a product/process and concurrently make integrated decisions affecting that product or process. The teams can be created, formed, and their talents applied at all levels of the organization ranging from the overall structure of the organization to ad hoc teams that address specific problems.
The Truth: Neat was to cut costs because the bureaucrats that make sure the product is defined, documented, checked, and meets the intent are now either "gone" or ignored... We get a product not nearly as good as in the past!
4. What are the key characteristics?
- Team is established to produce a specific product or service.
- Multidisciplinary - all team members/functions working together towards common goal.
- Members have mutual, as well as individual accountability
- Integrated, concurrent decision making
- Empowered to make decisions within specific product or service goal.
- Planned integration among teams towards system goal.
The Truth: A standalone group with no checks and balances who proceed down their path with their agenda not necessairly in line with any other IP in the group! A disaster in action!