The media are abuzz with stories today about how Boeing’s 787 is ready to take flight. Consider how the BBC goes as far as to suggest that “Boeing has pegged its hopes for the future on the plane.” But what are the top procurement and supply-chain lessons we can take away from the entire 787 design and production process? After more than half a dozen delays, I’d argue there are a bunch, many of which we’ve covered in Spend Matters over the years. But none stands out more than the supply risk inherent in any business-model transformation that focuses on buying more and making less, driving up supply-chain complexity and supplier dependency. With the 787, Boeing set out to do something revolutionary by tapping suppliers not only for materials, parts, and components, but also innovation. And in doing so, it set out not only to bring a new platform to market as quickly as possible, but also, ironically, to reduce business risk by reducing its dependence on its own operations (and organized labor in the production process, specifically).
By Jason Busch on December 15, 2009
Obsessed with how companies manage, spend and save money, Jason writes about procurement, trade and supply chain issues @ Spend Matters. He has significant first hand experience developing and marketing technology and services products, has advised numerous companies on sourcing and related techniques as well as M&A pursuits. In previous lives before tech, he was a management consultant and merchant banking analyst.