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For a long time, it seemed that U.S. Defense budgets were an ocean of money, seemingly endless and ever expanding. Then sequestration and across the board budget cuts happened and we realized that the Defense budget was really just a huge lake, a great lake, but not the ocean.

So, one could argue that the plug was already pulled on the ocean, or at least that great lake.

But not really.

Are you pulling the plug?

Budgets are going back up and with them comes a different style of filling the lake. With that style comes a new mindset, at least for the Defense Department, of should cost and best value. While not in any way complete, the new mindset is starting to look at supply chain and operational performance, as well as the costs, paid compared to the performance received.

And then there’s the plug. It’s a great performance.

With increased scrutiny, processes and the integration of processes and people to achieve contract requirements not just once, but every time, are more important. If you are a manufacturer, do you know your processes, even if you are a small business? While there is an art to everything if people in your shop went on vacation, could a new, qualified person pull up a file and read the detail of what needs to be done to create a great product? Are these kept up to date? And if you follow those processes, can you assure On-Time Performance as a result.

If you answer no to any of the above questions, then you’re pulling the plug on your ability to continue receiving contracts over time due to poor performance. There are more contracting officers, contract surveillance personnel, and there is the beginning of a conversation about using past performance data more effectively. At a minimum, you can expect more surveillance if you are a Prime contractor and more delegations reaching through the Prime to you if you are a subcontractor and your performance does not meet contract requirements.

What can you do?

If you are small, it seems to be a choice between doing the work to make money or writing documents. But even if you are small, there are things you can do that are simple. For example, if you are able to have paper and pen (or access to a computer) at workstations, have people capture the steps they perform as they work setup or the first unit. If you’re small, don’t capture more than one product a week – it will get in the way. Communicate to everyone that this is going to happen over a certain amount of time and that capturing processes means reducing things like surveillance events or delay notices or CARs (Corrective Action Request) which can take more time.

Don’t want to write? Then use some handy technology. Have people speak into a smartphone and record what they do step-by-step. Then download the files with a transcription service or program. With a little clean up, you have your product process documented.

As long as people follow the steps they capture for you, then no matter how low tech the result, it meets the process documentation test.

Now, do you know what performance areas the government will surveil and ask for data on? To name a few: Material Requirements Planning, Rough Cut Capacity Planning, and Master Production Scheduling.

To get more in-depth knowledge of these areas, attend the upcoming seminar sponsored by N’ware “Becoming THE DoD Manufacturing Contractor: Winning through superior performance. It’s coming up on April 25. Click here for more information.

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is a featured presenter for the upcoming seminar “Becoming the DoD Manufacturing Contractor: Winning through superior performance.” She also trains DoD personnel on how to conduct surveillance events in industrial manufacturing environments.

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