Efficient working procedures are effective

A Note To The Reader

The text describes four examples of different types of capability development.

The first part deals with how we have generally worked on capability development, how we have had to change skills over time, and what challenges this entails. In addition, it describes how we have worked consistently on the management of objectives and have thereby been able to achieve significant effects.

The second text describes how we have worked to introduce Lean and Lean thinking. All those who use Lean must adapt their Lean work to the conditions and maturity of their own organisations. The principles of Lean can always be used. This text describes how Saab has interpreted Lean and what this means for the operation.

The third text describes how a highly successful way of managing test operations was developed within the operational area of verification & validation. This operation begins as early as the construction stage. Within verification & validation, systematic work has been done on capability development for many years, both generally and with Lean in particular.


In order to achieve long-term, persistent and lasting change in an operation, the obstacles presented by a static organisational structure must be removed.

Courage is needed to break patterns with regard to currently prevailing working procedures and organisational forms. If we take the plunge and introduce radically new working procedures, this will produce a dynamic atmosphere that stimulates innovative capability and challenges old truths.

This focus is the basis of the approach to persistent change management.

Recommended reading

The author recommends the following texts that relate to this story: In chapter Having a low life cycle cost under the heading Efficient maintenance concepts, under the heading An effective procurement process and under the heading Challenging changes in production.

The text concerns the highlighted areas of A Journey of Change in the Aircraft Industry


Development skills have changed as value-stream-based working procedures and model-based development methodologies have been introduced.

As the model-based working procedures have been introduced, the distribution of skills in development work has changed. The focus has now ended up on architectural knowledge for the design of entire weapons systems and other associated systems. This applies to the development and management of products throughout their life cycles.

This means that the number of development engineers has decreased, and work is now focused on design work at an early stage. This allows complex problems to be handled early on in the development work. The costs and sensitivity to changes is therefore lower than in later stages of the development work.

Lean was started in 2011 for military aircraft operations within Saab. The Lean concept was grounded in the management group. The management group reviewed the Lean principles for a period of time, and developed an adapted concept for the entire operation. The adaptation was described in a so-called “Lean house”, in which the principles that came to apply to Saab were defined.

To allow Lean to spread, a very simple description of what Lean stands for was also produced. Brief descriptions were compiled showing the behaviours that arise from the Lean principles and that are fundamental to Lean thinking, as well as what is not consistent with Lean.

The Lean principles form an excellent basis for change management work.

Since 2003, significant streamlining and capability increases have taken place within the operational area of verification & validation. Specifically, it has been very important for test method responsible engineers to provide support to material group managers within the testing work.

A generic testing process was successively developed for all types of tests, including well defined working procedures. The whole thing can be described by saying that there is a game plan for system testing in place, which can be divided into the following three main components.

The management of strategic objectives is central for Saab, and constitutes a fundamental working procedure for managing operations by focusing on and communicating strategically important objectives for the organisation’s operations.

Description of content

  • Capability development and change of development skills.
  • Lean as a method and a tool for building quality into every step of work processes and working procedures, with the aim of being able to rely on the result to be good every time.
  • Verification & validation to increase capabilities in the testing work within the entire value stream with regard to development work.
  • The management of strategic objectives is central for Saab, and constitutes a fundamental working procedure for managing operations by focusing on and communicating strategically important objectives for the organisation’s operations.

Capability Development

This text deals with how to achieve long-term, persistent and lasting change in an operation. This means removing the obstacles presented by a static organisational structure.

Courage is needed to break patterns with regard to currently prevailing working procedures and organisational forms. If we take the plunge and introduce radically new working procedures, this will produce a dynamic atmosphere that stimulates innovative capability and challenges old truths.

Specifically, changes to working procedures in the value streams must be followed by changes in the organisation and changes in the distribution of skills. This will mean that the significance of certain professional fields will be toned down as the working procedure changes or disappears entirely. This may take place progressively as working procedures and methodologies are changed, but it may also be more radical as new, ground breaking working procedures are introduced.

Changes of skills within development

Development skills have changed through the introduction of value-stream-based working procedures and model-based development methodologies. For the previous development of Gripen C/D, the distribution of system developers and software developers was 3:7, and the focus there was strongly geared towards the design of the aircraft.

As model-based working procedures (MBSE) were introduced, the development work on Gripen E received a different distribution of skills. The focus now has moved to architectural knowledge for designing entire weapons systems and all other associated systems for the development and management of the products over their life cycles.

In Gripen E, the distribution of system developers, software developers and product and system architects is instead 1:3:1.

This means that the number of development engineers has decreased and the work now focuses on design work at earlier stages. This allows complex problems to be handled early on in the development work. The costs and sensitivity to changes is therefore lower than in later stages of the development work.

Propensity to change

Generating propensity to change in an organisation requires crisis awareness. The management structure must have the flexibility to be able to handle various scenarios and to take decisive action in the event of major readjustments.

The challenge is to carry out a change of skills in such a way that employees’ experiences with regard to system requirements and functions are carried over. When changing working procedures and starting to use new methods and tools, it is necessary to retrain the skills and behaviours of the affected employees with regard to the way in which they solve problems. It is therefore important that there is proper methodological support in place so that the readjustment works well.

The challenge is sometimes considerable when one has to absorb other, radically new and previously unknown working procedures. Good methodological support and an open mind for learning new working methods are required. Without these, it will be necessary to change tasks.

Making major changes requires an ability to see the big picture and an overall approach to all the important parts of the operation. It is necessary to work on the overall objectives, product planning, market adaptation and business models, and to be able to keep existing commitments, and maintain continuity in management, HR planning and training and development. Change requires a balance between a number of different activities.

Securing skills for the future

The focus for capability development over the last 15 years has been characterised by the desire to secure skills within Saab’s 14 technology areas. All these technology areas are required in order to be a complete aircraft industry for the development of military fighter aircraft. For this reason, various investments have been made in order to obtain both breadth and depth within all technological disciplines.

This has not been a simple matter, as there has been no economic boom in the defence industry during this time. Through the management’s visionary objectives for future development, it has been possible to manoeuvre both economically and in terms of capabilities, and to get through a tough period and even come out of it stronger.

A major focus has been placed on skills planning in order to strengthen and develop those skills that have been judged to be necessary for future development programmes. Saab has identified the areas that require extra investments, and described how the engineering collective needs to be matched and balanced against upcoming capability needs.

Saab started a training programme called the Broad Engineer Programme late 2000s. It is an excellent way of broadening skills. The programme entails initiatives to have a number of engineers rotate between different technology areas. They are then able to take part in day-to-day work in order to gain the necessary understanding and knowledge of different technological disciplines and the challenges in each technology area.

Here, participants gain both breadth and depth as part of the capability development of those individuals. The programme provides Saab with a number of highly competent engineers with practical experiences.

Assessments of required skills

Various types of gap analyses have been carried out in stages over the years in order to identify required skills matched against ongoing development projects and assessed long-term needs for skills in upcoming development projects. In addition, gap analyses have been carried out continuously within line operations in order to see which improvements and streamlining measures need to be done to improve processes, development methodologies, IT tools and IT environments.

Capability development has been moved forward by using different types of maturity models like CMMI. This has provided a standard against which to examine organisational capabilities.

The investment that has been made in Lean has produced a highly positive effect on the way in which well thought-out value streams are worked on. Lean thinking as a concept constitutes a fundamental mind-set for doing only what creates value or adds value. Lean has had a highly positive effect on day-to-day work. This applies both in line operations and in product projects, primarily through daily management activity.

Challenges for capability development

Many of the systems that are used in fighter aircraft systems can be in use for a very long time while still being modern and functioning well. There are many systems or structures that do not need to be changed for a very long time – 5–10 years, or in some cases even longer. In certain cases, it may be that the structure has not been changed at all.

Because the intervals between different development projects are often long, it is important to document a system or structure in a well-defined way.

A clear design memory can be defined here, with good descriptions of functionality and the purpose of the system or structure.

One might wonder how knowledge can be transferred with so little practical work. It is difficult to keep a skill up to date over time, and being able to transfer that skill between employees over time on top of that is even more difficult.

The oral tradition within Saab, with collaboration between technological disciplines, has played a significant role for Saab’s ability to transfer so-called hidden knowledge. This working procedure and tradition have been crucial for Saab’s ability to handle design memory and to be able to give the knowledge a personal description by allowing experienced and senior personnel to act as mentors for new employees.

The ability to maintain skills within technology areas

For Saab, knowledge management has not been a directly expressed investment. Instead, knowledge management has been a natural part of day-to-day activity and is naturally a strategic capability that should be preserved. This capability is preserved in day-to-day activity by employees with a sense of responsibility who regard it as natural to spread and transfer knowledge.

Various investigations have been carried out with regard to the specialisations that have needed to be carried out in order to maintain skills within the technology areas. The aim has been to lay the foundation for skills planning. Within each technology area, work is done for the long term by producing technical plans for the supply of technology but also for skills planning.

Managing the development of technical capabilities for advanced products like Gripen requires close collaboration between product management, project management and business management, and in particular with the management for capability development.

Development of operational maturity

In the early 2000s, there were separate cultures within different operations. There was a project culture in which many new products were produced. There was a strong focus here on technology and products, and this led to success. However, there were also difficulties with maintaining skills over time and developing these capabilities over the long term.

In other parts of the operation, where the focus was on the production of a small number of products, it was unclear what needed to be developed within the product projects and what needed to be developed within the line organisation. The basic idea was that the product projects should “buy” results from the line organisation. Instead, what happened was that they “bought” the resources and skills that the project needed from the line organisation and ran development in-house.

In 2003, conditions changed radically when a major reorganisation was carried out, merging two business units and making other substantial structural changes. This led to large-scale layoffs, which were absolutely necessary in the prevailing business situation, but were very strained, with few new appointments.

At that time, the line organisation was in sharp focus. One important change was the introduction of project offices. The operational form was established in every department within development operations. The project offices were focused on working on a number of cross-departmental issues. Some examples were line finances, compilation of calculations, overall resource planning, supplying project leaders to other operations and product projects, development planning and capacity planning, as well as a number of other tasks of a more specific nature.

In order to maintain skills within all technology areas, major investments were made in technology demonstrators to form a foundation for future products.

The dimensioning of skills requirements was reviewed on the basis of the focus of the prevailing business plan for the upcoming ten-year period.

In order to be sustainable over the long term in a situation with low market growth and a limited number of new appointments, a lot of work would be done on finding the strategic direction for streamlining organisational capabilities.

Operational development plans

Various types of investigations and comprehensive work on operational development plans have laid the foundation for an extensive rationalisation and streamlining project. This investment was intended to free significant resources, both financially and in personnel terms, in order to make the necessary future investments in the form of continued development of the Gripen system in new versions.

Another important initiative to streamline the project work was a large-scale investment in the introduction of project management methods.

Over the following years, exhaustive investments were made in mapping processes within development work. This was done in order to make ownership and administrative responsibility simpler and clearer for all processes in the business area’s operational management system.

Specifically, the focus was placed on streamlining the work in the airworthiness process, as Saab was now responsible for the Rules for Military Aviation, having taken over responsibility from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration.

From a change in a product to an approved system report

An important measure in this context was to reduce lead times from when a change to a product was implemented to when the system report for the product was approved.

It was important to reduce the lead time, but also to achieve good delivery precision for the measure. Once this change had been implemented, the result was a delivery precision of +/- one day, which was very good given that most development projects have very long turnaround times, of several months or years.

Some of the effects of this work resulted in the following:

  • The first flight with Gripen to the South African customer took place on the appointed day: 8 November 2005.
  • The first aircraft to the Hungarian customer was flown on the appointed day: 15 May 2005.
  • During 2006, we were able to have four different material type certificates (MTCs) approved on the appointed day.
  • The delivery of Gripen to the armed forces equipped for the international flight campaign Coop Thunder Red Flag Alaska 2006 was delivered according to plan.

During 2006, it was decided that an investment should be made in structurally introducing measurements and working procedures to improve organisational capabilities over the long term. For this purpose, a model and method were to be used to measure the level of maturity in an operation. The method selected for the purpose was CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration).

A major focus was placed on increasing capabilities and reducing lead times, as well as on improving delivery precision in the product development projects.

When the result was measured in 2008, after two years, the level had been raised for all project development. One of the reasons for this was that all project leaders in product projects had a stable, repeatable and therefore institutionalised working procedure. Methodologies and handbooks for project management were produced and project leaders were trained. In addition, capabilities had been developed within process management in general, and in a number of important areas within development operations.

Group consolidation

Strong leaders are needed to take advantage of previous experience and to have the courage to change working procedures and the leadership of projects and programmes. The group consolidation, with collaboration across the business areas using shared working procedures and methods, has been a major success factor.

The work that was done to increase the capability to manage projects and programmes could also be exploited to streamline purchasing work. The Gripen 08 product development project was the first project to work with supplier collaboration according to a new methodology and new working procedures for this purpose.

A major difficulty with working across business area boundaries is the different leadership structures, which often manage and monitor projects in different ways.

It is therefore important to measure results across the entire value stream in a joint group-wide project. A clear view of how schedules and milestones are being followed is required. It is also much more difficult to measure individual results separately in different business areas, as there is no connection to all the relationships in products and system development that are always required.

Which experiences are the most significant

In addition to good skills, sharing experiences also requires a strong personal educational talent that makes use of knowledge and experience to generate added value from the development of others. Over the years, experienced project leaders have conveyed experiences to new project and team leaders. However, adapted and regular work is required in order to support, direct and coach younger employees in the right direction.

Focus on the transfer of skills has varied over time, requiring a more institutionalised working procedure. One such working procedure is to always allow experienced project leaders to act as mentors and coaches to a greater extent in future as their careers come to an end.

Experiences and lessons learned implemented in product projects during the 2010s have shown that the use of Lean principles gives support to approaches and the practical design of working procedures.

The introduction of daily management in product projects has led to a concrete and efficient coordination of the project situation, the simplicity of which allows for a very good overview of and focus on the activities that require extra support.

The introduction of scrum, which is a system development methodology, has produced a very positive effect in system development work. There is a cross-functional team working together in scrum. This type of work form contrasts with the waterfall model, where work is completed in functional phases with clear handovers between groups.

By means of the scrum methodology, tasks are divided up in time with focus maintained on the business benefits delivered, which has led to better measurability so that the set goals can be seen, and the results have actually been achieved. This has also led to the creation of a new leadership structure with different roles. The new working procedure has also meant that the responsibility for producing results has moved from managers to project teams. The result of this has been that motivation in system developers has increased, and collaboration between the project’s sponsor and project team has improved.

From lessons learned in product development projects, it has been observed that several of the most important Lean principles have been implemented through work with scrum and visual planning.

It may be noted here that the work with scrum and visual planning has helped to a certain extent to increase the level of maturity in our working procedures to level 3 according to the CMMI scale.

From various lessons learned, it can also be seen that the many years of work on continuously improving working procedures and methodologies has produced a normal mode for how the work should be run and administered in the various PM&T areas. Within the PM&T areas, development and administration are driven by processes, working procedures and methodologies as well as information systems, including IT tools.


Lean was launched for military aircraft operations within Saab in 2011. The Lean concept was grounded in the management group. The management group reviewed the Lean principles for a period of time, and developed an adapted concept for Lean for the entire operation. This adaptation was described in a so-called “Lean house”, where the principles that would apply to Saab were defined.

The figure shows how it was chosen to define Lean for Aeronautics. There are a number of formulations there that “build a house” and describe the basic principles of Lean work.

These principles are the guides by which all Lean work is run. Saabs values form the foundation for Lean at Saab Aeronautics.

Aeronautics Lean principles

  1. Visualising and fixing
  2. Continuously improving
  3. Seeing the big picture and creating flow
  4. Collaboration and learning
  5. Normal mode
  6. Employeeship and leadership
  7. Long-term approach
  8. Customer value: our future
  9. Simplicity and orderliness


Start of Lean work

Lean work started on a broad front with activities and projects within development, production and flight test operations. From an early stage, there was a focus on methodology and the various Lean tools. Later on, various Lean training programmes were drawn up for management groups and for the various managers at all levels within Saab.

The emphasis of this Lean training was on leadership focus. Mixed groups were used from different parts of the operation, in order to obtain different perspectives on leadership. The investment was a success, and Lean took hold quite naturally within the operation.

The introduction of daily management in operations and projects has provided very good control of the current situation and has led to significant streamlining of day-to-day work. Improvement charts were also introduced for all operations and projects. It was significantly more difficult here to achieve continuity and altitude in this work. It worked excellently for certain parts of the operation, but others saw better ways to run improvement work.

The same applied to 5S for orderliness in the workplace. This Lean tool was excellent for certain operations but felt meaningless to others.

To allow Lean to spread, a very simple description of what Lean stands for was also produced. Brief descriptions were compiled, showing the behaviours that arise from the Lean principles and that are fundamental to Lean thinking, as well as what is not consistent with Lean.

The Lean principles form an excellent basis for change management work. The introduction of value stream analyses to various change projects was an unexpected success. This working procedure succeeded in dealing with the actual problems in a simple way with minimal effort. Systematic problem solving for dealing with the root causes of problems was introduced as a method for solving complex organisational problems.

When looking at the introduction of Lean, it can be seen that situational adaptation is a must. Lean does not provide any quick fixes, but Lean principles can always be applied to all operations – they are a matter of common sense.

A successful operation runs day-to-day streamlining using a Lean approach (Lean tools are not necessarily needed). Substantial, successful and lasting increases in capabilities are only achieved by setting up challenging goals supported by persistent change work.

Lean principles are important. Central to success with Lean is that managers must live by Lean principles so that the principles are trustworthy. Good leadership means seeing and understanding the big picture, being sure to work together and being open to learning from one’s surroundings.

Good working procedures achieve good results – this means that leadership needs to focus on working procedures rather than results.

The section below describes the Lean house and the various principles for how to implement it practically in various types of activities, where the available working procedures and tools for continuous streamlining of work vary.

Visualising and fixing

Visualising and fixing is a matter of quality at each step, how to find errors early on, and how to ensure that they are never allowed to move down the stream. It must be ensured that all sources of errors are eliminated by design. The root cause of a problem needs to be fixed so that the problem does not resurface.

Seeing discrepancies clearly – early warnings are about visualising the normal situation in all contexts, for example in workspaces, bookshelves, tool cabinets, computer storage, visual charts etc. so that deviations are noticed. The normal situation is the standard that has been agreed upon locally, for example with regard to what the workplace looks like. It is important to visualise clearly how we work and how we meet the objectives for our work.


Continuously improving

A cornerstone for all Lean thinking is the principle of continuous improvement. This means that all employees have at least two tasks. They need to carry out their work tasks and also try to improve them. Either individually or in working groups, employees should constantly be reflecting on how a work result has been achieved, regardless of whether the result was good or bad.

To be able to improve an operation, one must have the courage to try out different ideas without risking security or important delivery times. It is therefore significantly better to test many small ideas than to wait for the perfect solution.

Problems are often the start of a solution – problems should therefore be seen as opportunities. Hiding or ignoring problems is not acceptable.

Often, the improvement process can start with seeing a deviation from the expected normal situation. It is important to have the capability to see problems at an early stage. Improvement work is not finished until the problem has been resolved and the operation functions in day-to-day work.


Seeing the big picture and creating flow

In order to design effective work flows, it is necessary to look at the big picture in order to create reliable value streams with good flow. Every link in the chain must be reliable and the workload must be consistent over time. It is important for everybody involved in a value stream to understand how it fits together – it is therefore necessary to visualise it.

In order to achieve good value streams, it is important to have frequent dialogue with internal as well as external customers. We need to be sure that we understand what they actually need, and deliver exactly that and nothing else. All changes to requirements must be handled in a business-like way.

Improvement work is based on simplifying work flows and progressively removing all unnecessary work. It is important to see the big picture and eliminate bottlenecks. There should always be a major focus on early stages in a value stream so that problems can be resolved early on, and not when the stream reaches the customer.

Collaboration and learning

Collaborating allows us to learn in a way that also promotes improvements. Continuous learning is a key to a successful operation. In order for this to work in practice, a respectful attitude is important. Collaboration needs to work across project boundaries, between different line sections, when working in teams, collaborating with customers and partners etc. For development to take place, regular lessons learned must be carried out in both project and line work. In order to increase a capability, it is necessary to reflect on how the operation or project works to understand what might produce an improvement. This requires an initiative that makes sure that changes are executed and secured so that they function well and are profitable in the long term.

Normal mode

The normal mode in Lean is expressed as the baseline that one should be able to visualise and compare oneself against on a day-to-day basis. There are several types of important normal modes, such as an agreed individual best practice working procedure for how a specific piece of work should be managed, and how this working procedure should function in a value stream. In order to compare and show that a normal mode is in place, it is necessary to have good metrics and repeat measurements. This makes it possible to steer towards the objectives that are the basis for the operation, regardless of whether the objectives relate to the soft aspects of the work or the more tangible results with regard to time, quality or delivery capacity.

Employeeship and leadership

Both employees and leaders are required to treat each other with mutual respect for the way in which work tasks and working environments are designed. It is also important to have an attitude and a set of values that make day-to-day activity feel stimulating, so that the expected objectives and results can be achieved. It is a matter of good employee ship and good leadership.

Long-term approach

Working with Lean and acting in this spirit is an ongoing job that never ends. Managing to work with continuous improvements and systematic learning requires having objectives and driving forces that strive for long-term excellence in operations.

Giving the customer value without wastefulness – that is to say, not performing unnecessary activities and work tasks – is of course necessary. However, continuous learning through retrospectives and lessons learned is even more important, because that is the way to integrate experiences that help to avoid waste in future work.

Customer value: our future

Customer value is what external customers are willing to pay for. If we deliver less than that, the customers will go to a competitor next time. If we deliver more, or “gold-plate” our work, we will not be paid for it. It is likely that these are self-evident facts for most people. Defining customer value is important – customer value is generated by identifying who the customer is, what the customer thinks is important and why. What is it that the customer is actually paying for, and where is the customer value?

This is where all capability development begins: the customer value must be defined in order to be able to manage an operation in both the short and the long term.

Simplicity and orderliness

The customer’s needs and willingness to pay place limits on how complex a product can be. Similarly, there are limits on how advanced the available tools can be for the internal work.

The conditions that the person carrying out a task needs must be simple enough to make them maximally usable, including the possibility of ensuring that the work can meet external requirements.

Orderliness in one’s own workplace and in shared workplaces is fundamental to quality assurance and efficiency.

The Lean toolbox

The figure shows the tools that are used in Lean work and the principles that they support.

Lean tools

  • VP, visual planning, is a standardised method that visualises deliveries, dependencies and problems in a concrete way.
  • Scrum is a system development methodology.
  • Improvement charts are used to power systematic improvement work and to obtain a good overview of the changes taking place and those that are being planned.
  • The value stream analysis visualises the flow of products and identifies obstacles and areas of improvement.
  • 5S, orderliness, is used to successively construct a workplace, office or workshop where orderliness, overview and visualisation are everyday matters.
  • Systematic problem solving (SPS) is based on devoting time to a proper problem description in order to facilitate root cause analysis and problem solving.

Verification & Validation

This description provides an example of how people within an operational area have worked with systematic capability development.

Since 2003, significant streamlining and increases in capabilities have taken place within the verification & validation operation. Specifically, it has been important for test method responsible engineers to be able to support material group managers within testing work.

A generic testing process has been successively developed. This testing process can be used for all types of testing and contains well defined working procedures. The whole thing can be described by saying that there is a game plan for system testing in place, which can be divided into the following three main components.

  • Planning of the development test with verification and validation.
  • Development of the test methods required to implement the test.
  • Development and application of tools and processes.

In order to use tools and processes effectively, the test stations had to be continuously developed, deployed and maintained.

By doing this, it was possible to produce an efficient test operation and well-functioning test planning. The tools and methodologies were in place to carry out analyses of test data, and in particular to produce a report of the results for the affected parties within the development work.

Developing and refining system testing is important work. This is done by means of regular lessons learned with the main components in the game plan for system testing.

The generic test process has been developed and used within Gripen development for a long time.

Planning of development testing

When drawing up a plan or carrying out development testing, the starting point is a product plan with an associated V&V strategy. The first thing is to define the framework for time, finances and technology, which forms of collaboration will apply to the system test and which test phases will be included. The test stations to be used are defined, as are the test types to be used to allow acceptance testing to be carried out.

In the next step, the starting point is a development plan for the relevant product project with an associated V&V plan. What is defined here is the verification strategy, the overall test methods to be used and the requirement matrix that applies. In the V&V plans, the test stations required for work are also defined, as are the requirements for them. Configuration planning for the test stations is essential.

In a third step, the starting point is a flight test plan for the flight tests to be carried out in the system test. Here, the way in which the verification and validation will be carried out is defined. Airworthiness requirements, process requirements and the appropriate standards for the execution of the flight tests are also handled here.

Development of test methods

In order to develop test methods, an assessment is first carried out on the focus of the relevant technical plan. The requirements specified in the various technical plans are reviewed. An assessment is also carried out on the requirements defined in the operational plans within the line organisation, and specifically from the PM&T organisation that runs the operational development.

The next step involves reviewing a test handbook and the chapters in it that describe the test methodology. The test handbook contains the specific test methods that are available. The test handbook deals with best practice and various cases of lessons learned, as well as different types of checklists.

Development and application of tools and processes

The reason for using tools and processes for testing operations is to define how to achieve test worthiness for system testing.

System testing includes the areas specified below, which make up components of development planning.

The methodology and working procedure for test planning that has been developed covers the following: Handling test deviations – developing and managing test environments – defining measurement needs – handling and analysing measured data – developing and managing planning tools – briefing and debriefing – reporting.

Taking responsibility for test work involves supporting material group managers and conveying knowledge and experiences from various tests and analysis of the test results. This experience-based working procedure has developed both the test and the development methodologies.

Good testing operations

The success factors that produce good testing operations are characterised by having the in-house skills to technically develop and manage measurement systems within the test organisation. This refers to skills for rigs, simulators, lab operations and measurement systems that have proved to provide a high degree of flexibility in system testing work and to be good for skills retention. This, in combination with the use of COTS products for analysis and evaluation, has led to low administrative costs. It is a well balanced mix of in-house strategic skills and the use of standard tools and external experiences that has led to a flexible working procedure.

The results

An interesting example of results that have produced a high level of streamlining can be found within system testing. Specifically, it was important when the Matlab software (COTS program) was introduced as a general platform for analysing tests.

As well as a unified system environment, it also provided the same tools that are used in training at technological institutes, which simplified the introduction of new test and system engineers, who were thus familiar with the tool.

Another example of streamlining was the use of GPS and our own GPS transmitters when carrying out flight tests and sending measured data direct via link to the test leaders instead of using companion aircraft during testing. By using high-speed cameras, test work was also simplified for weapon separation and high-speed testing.

Gaining access to data live during testing makes test work radically simpler and faster than processing and analysing test data after the fact. Temperature sensors fitted to the fuselage were replaced by the use of thermal imagers in certain types of test.

Innovative capabilities

In order to maintain a high level of innovative capabilities, it is necessary to see which stakeholders are affected by the test work. Primarily, there are three different stakeholders: the tester, the operator and the administrator. These roles drive innovation in slightly different ways. The areas within which they work can be described as follows:

  • The tester compiles the test needs, plans and uses the relevant test station, and measures, analyses and reports the results.
  • The operator handles the test station, configures the test station in accordance with the test need, clarifies and supports the test and reports errors in the event of any deviations.
  • The administrator of test stations maintains existing test stations, makes any modifications or takes part in development work when existing test stations are changed or new test stations are acquired. This also includes maintaining and developing associated processes and test methodologies and ensuring that information on tests and test results is saved in a database. The IT support to be administered is made up of test stations, product domains where product data is available, and the required system and workplace equipment for the test site.

Skills retention and mentoring

In order to maintain strategic skills within system testing, continuous work is done with gap analyses, which assess upcoming test needs over several years against the existing skills within the test operation.

What has radically simplified and streamlined system testing is putting together a team – the functional development team (FDT) – in which every role is represented in the development work for the relevant material group.

Management and technical leadership

Ideally, line managers at the section level within the development organisation can take part in product development projects as sub-project leaders or as project participants with mentoring responsibilities for 40–60% of their working hours, and spend the other 40–60% of their hours working as line managers.

Where this working procedure has been applied, results have been good both with regard to technical leadership of employees and when working in the product project. It has also meant that the line managers have continuously been able to maintain and develop their skills, benefiting their responsibility by being able to act as both mentor and coach.

Skills and training programmes

There is a requirement for all test engineers to go through an authorisation programme. The programme exists at various different levels of expertise. The programme ensures that a high level of capability is maintained within development testing. It is essential for everyone working in systems engineering to understand the entire value stream in the development work, with a confirmation that requirements have been met (verification) and an assessment of usability and coverage of requirements (validation) from a life-cycle perspective.

One success factor for development testing has been to co-locate the relevant professional categories such as test engineers, flight test programme managers, mechanics, pilots, measurement/analysis engineers and workshop personnel.

In order to manage an efficient test operation, continuous substantial investments have been made on training and certifying those who work within the operational area of verification & validation.

All working procedures have been designed so that they can be scaled and adapted to the test needs to be implemented.

This has made it possible to use established working procedures and processes for both large and small test needs. By adapting the level of ambition to the level of need in the activities, it has not been necessary to have different types of processes and methods.

Management of Objectives – A Part Of Success

The management of strategic objectives is central for Saab and forms a basic working procedure for managing operations. This is done by focusing on strategically important objectives for the organisation’s operations.

The management of objectives is a way to achieve what is described in business and operational plans. The management of strategic objectives means that the route to achieving the company’s overall vision is defined in a number of strategic goals. Strategic goals have strong links between cause and effect.

The management of strategic objectives over the last 15 years has in principle been stable, but certain adjustments have been made with regard to focus due to changes in market conditions, and particularly the capability development that has taken place within Saab. Strategic maps have therefore also changed.

In the early 2000s, the management of objectives had a focus based on Kaplan/Norton’s method and theories of the balanced scorecard. Saab’s overall vision at the time was defined in terms of a number of strategic goals based on five focus areas: profitability, customers, collaboration, operations and employees.

The vision had a perspective of 10–20 years. Strategic goals had a perspective of 5–10 years, while the overall objectives of the strategies were for 3–5 years.

The short-term objectives were linked to a one-year budget. Short-term objectives were implemented in practical terms by drawing up plans of action and managing activities on the basis of these.

Over the years, there have of course been changes in the visions, strategies and overall objectives due to the market situation. However, it can also be seen that there was a rigour to long-term strategic capability development that was fundamental to Saab’s development and success.

Focus creates persistent, profitable business

In the mid-2000s, the focus changed: now the main objective was used as a starting point to secure sustainable profitability. The strategic goals were thus also changed. The focus was then on creating persistently profitable business and meeting commitments to customers, as well as on increased competitiveness. This took place thanks to a focus on streamlining operational capacity and resource and skills management, which means that efforts were directed towards developing skills for future working procedures.

At that time, the business situation was strained. There was a high level of uncertainty prevailing with regard to future development orders. It was therefore necessary to rationalise operations, but also to invest in developing efficient working procedures and methods in order to achieve an appreciable rise in the level of organisational capabilities – new skills were needed. This focus would later form the main path for the following ten years. This investment has also produced results.

Work on the management of objectives was focused on objectives and activities, resulting in efficient working procedures and the ability to achieve long-term sustainable profitability. This was achieved in spite of that fact that, for a number of years, there were no really large development orders.

Group focus

Later in the 2010s, a group focus strengthened the stance of developing efficient working procedures within all types of operations. The market and customer focus became stronger and the product portfolio was adapted, still primarily directed towards long-term sustainable profitability as a fundamental issue.

The focus areas in an updated strategic map were profitable growth, an adapted product portfolio, increased operational performance, and increased skills and capabilities among employees.

Over the years, the strategic views forming part of the various strategic maps have changed. As objectives have been achieved and implemented, new and challenging objectives have been set up and run as part of strategic work and the management of objectives.


Having sound operational and working procedures for carrying out analyses is fundamental to the management of strategic objectives. Analyses are carried out of the wider world, its development and the background to various events and approaches. Important areas for analysis are the political area, social development and changes in trends, as well as industrial capability and technical and technological development.

These analyses include assessments of how the global economy and individual countries develop. Important parameters in an overall assessment are how various crises, wars and tensions, both near Sweden and in the wider world, affect the will to pay a defence force as insurance against crisis and war. Other central considerations are how changes in focus regarding defence and industrial collaboration are developing.

The work that forms Saab’s management of strategic objectives is based on the business idea that constitutes a description of what is done, who it is done for, why and in what way. The business idea is transformed into an overall business plan which describes the operation’s fundamental purpose and mission. It also describes the market at which the operation is directed, and the customer needs being resolved through various offers.

There are also specific business plans for the product areas that people work within. The business plans per product area define the various business deals, who the customer is, and what the products and services are.

The business plan includes Saab’s vision, which is a guiding and challenging image of the organisation’s desired future capability and positioning. It provides an image of how the operation at large should look and function 10–20 years in the future. The vision is an expression of the operation’s overall objective, and serves as a guide.

Operational idea

There is also an operational idea in place in the form of an overall operational plan. It describes how to implement the focus practically on the basis of the business plan. The operational idea is only aligned for the internal management of objectives and activities.

The organisational plan includes, among other things, a strategic map. This strategic map contains a number of strategic goals. Various methods are used to define the strategic directions, including scenario planning and SWOT analyses.

Each strategic goal is divided into a number of strategies, in which long and short-term goals are defined in concrete terms, along with plans of action and actions for implementing the relevant strategies.

A strategy describes how the vision is to be achieved and the route choices that exist in order to move from the current situation to a desired future situation. A strategy includes a strategy description and a number of overall objectives with associated key performance indices with target values linked to short-term objectives and activities.

An example of a strategy that has been run powerfully over the years is the development of strategic skills. The purpose of this has been to increase operational capacity continually with the aim of developing all the products in the product portfolio to be world-class.

Continuous monitoring

Through continuous monitoring and measurement on a quarterly basis over the past 15 years, management of strategic objectives has made it possible to increase organisational capabilities continuously.

Each quarterly report has been preceded by analyses and measures to adjust objectives and to improve activities and plans of action, thereby developing the capabilities that each strategy is directed towards.

Formulating all objectives in each strategy in terms of SMART – i.e. by making them Specific, Measurable, Accepted, Realistic and Timetabled – has made it possible to obtain acceptance for the objectives in the operation in a good way.

The work on managing objectives has provided Saab with the conditions for developing new working procedures. The management of objectives has been used consistently for all types of operation and project. Working procedures, methodologies and tools have been created for developing world-class products that will continue to be developed over time. This has been ensured by integrating the practical management well into the line organisation and product projects.

The author´s reflections