EADS: making quality a key performance factor Premium

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Extract from an interview with Nathalie Ducombeau, Senior Vice President Head of Quality, Airbus, September 2013.

ND 2013
“Tom Enders, CEO of the EADS Group, launched the company’s Quality Improvement initiative in February 2013 with the aim of making Quality a competitive factor across the entire group. The scheme is entirely cross-functional for all activities and complements the existing quality management operations. The thinking behind its deployment and sustainability is based on process-driven management.”

Three major objectives to improve quality
This very wide-ranging initiative, co-led by Nathalie Ducombeau, has been carried out at a brisk pace and resulted in three major strategic challenges:
1. To exceed basic customer satisfaction
2. To build a quality mindset throughout the value chain, because sources of efficiency are not limited to the area of production alone
3. To reduce non-quality costs, which, although already well-known, are measured unevenly across subsidiaries

Six Priority performance levers
Six performance levers were identified that gave rise in February 2013 to six multi-disciplinary working groups. The goal is to define the transformation processes for those six levers for the whole group, before cascading them by division and business sector over two years (2014 and 2015). This initiative will affect 120,000 people across 25 European sites. Nathalie Ducombeau acknowledges that: “The changes will be complicated and slow because it is a cultural shift. All business sectors will have to develop and begin by taking an interest in the feedback of their internal and external customers.”

Lessons learned from the experience of Airbus
Managing a process of change like this is nothing new for Nathalie Ducombeau. Indeed, Quest is partly based on the experience of Airbus, the main division of the EADS Group, regarding process-driven management. In 2008, under the impetus of its Chief Operating Officer (Fabrice Brégier, appointed Airbus CEO in June 2012), a process-driven management initiative was launched that, as well as improving the flow and cooperation between sectors, resulted in enhanced end-customer satisfaction, better clarification of roles and responsibilities, standardized work methods (greater competitiveness and a simpler way of doing things), improved risk management by adopting a cross-functional approach, and the sharing of best practices.

Read the interview
Transforming quality into a key competitive advantage

Interview with Nathalie Ducombeau, Senior Vice President Head of Quality, Airbus, September 2013.