Capability development in an international environment

A Note to The Reader

This section concerns Saab's work to position its industrial expertise in preparation for future product collaborations and future export deals. In any international collaboration, it has been necessary to identify possible roles and suitable work packages in the fields of technology and integration that are important for both the Gripen and other products.

At the time, the aircraft industry in Europe was undergoing consolidation and there was great interest in cooperating with Sweden and Saab.


A combination of Swedish initiatives and international partnerships will be necessary to maintain and develop expertise over time. Saab was in need of new and advanced development work to secure and develop its technical expertise in a number of technology areas. In particular, this concerned technology areas that are involved at an early stage of the development cycle, such as concept work, aerodynamics and more.

Saab also considered it important to create opportunities for future international industrial partnerships. Another reason was to create work packages with extensive content and of a high technical level that could generate income in the event of continued product realisation and serial production.

Recommended reading

The author recommends the following texts that relate to this story: In chapter Creating value for customers under the heading Development of Technology Demonstrators in chapter Adaptability for new requirements under the heading Creative engineering capability – MBD and in chapter Ensuring long-term organisational capabilities under the heading Success factors in change processes.

This section concerns the highlighted areas of A Journey of Change in the Aircraft Industry


At the beginning of the 2000s, Sweden's military aircraft industry was undergoing great change. Numerous Swedish projects had been conducted since the end of the 1940s. The international security situation was now completely different. The Cold War had come to an end and in its place was a need to build a future based on international collaboration and exports in a global market.

The military market is characterised by industrial and political boundary conditions. International projects and programmes are most often fully governed by the participating nations. At the beginning of the 2000s, there was also movement in Europe towards consolidation in the defence industry, which made it important for all involved to align themselves with the right countries and partners.

The assessment at the time was that only three companies with the ability to develop complete fighter aircraft systems would remain in Europe.

Content outline

  • Saab was in need of new and advanced development work to secure and develop its technical expertise in a number of technology areas.
  • The aim of the Neuron programme, as defined by the government agencies, was to develop a vehicle in the shape of a technology demonstrator that included a ground station.
  • Participating in aircraft system projects conducted as European partnerships provides increased experience of programme management in complex international industrial environments.
  • During the procurement process, the participating partners must have the same ideas for the business model.
  • Establishing the practicalities for cooperation between the industry and the concerned government agencies at an early stage simplifies the entire process.

Transformation in the Aircraft Industry – International Partnerships

At the beginning of the 2000s, the Swedish military aircraft industry was undergoing great change. A number of Swedish projects had been conducted since the end of the 1940s. The international security situation was completely different, now that the Cold War had come to an end. In its place was a need to build a future based on international collaboration and exports in a global market.

This made it important for all involved to align themselves with the right countries and partners and it was assessed that only three companies with the ability to develop complete fighter aircraft systems would remain in Europe.

At the beginning of the 2000s, future product collaborations in the fighter aircraft systems market segment were predicted to in all likelihood involve the USA, Russia, France or the UK.

A combination of Swedish initiatives and international partnerships will be necessary to maintain and develop expertise over time. Saab was in need of new and advanced development work to secure and develop its technical expertise in a number of technology areas. In particular, this concerned technology areas that are involved at an early stage of the development cycle, such as concept work, aerodynamics and more.

Decision criteria – positioning and training and development

When Saab Aeronautics' management evaluated various international collaboration programmes to see which could be of interest, the following selection criteria were established:

  • Does the collaboration programme include possible roles at the right system level?
  • Would the international partnership offer important positioning in preparation for future product collaborations and future export deals?
  • Are there work packages in the fields of technology and integration that are important for both the Gripen and other products?
  • Do the participating companies have sufficient expertise to help develop Saab's capability?
  • Is the timing of the collaboration programme suitable with consideration for technical development, skills retention, capacity utilisation and so on?

Saab Aeronautics' management determined that the above criteria could be met by participating in the Neuron programme and, at the time, this would cover the slowdown in development needs in the Gripen programme.

The Neuron programme aimed to develop a concept into a technology demonstrator for an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) with low signature characteristics.

The most important decision criterion for participating in the Neuron programme was to secure expertise in systems and components for the Gripen programme. Participating in the Neuron programme could also deliver added business value through the opportunity to receive relevant work packages.

Another reason was to create work packages with extensive content and of a high technical level, which in the event of continued product realisation and serial production could generate income.

Company management's involvement and focus changed over time due to changes on the business side of things. When the Neuron programme began in 2003, it was determined as likely that it would generate great value, providing future collaborations for many years to come.

In light of this, company management was willing to take certain risks. Over the years, the initial assessment of the programme's long-term potential to be a favourable income generator has been re-evaluated.

Income generation was important at the time due to the aircraft industry undergoing consolidation. The aircraft industry in Europe was very interested in cooperating with Sweden and Saab, mostly due to the unique and specific knowledge used to create the Gripen system products.

Principle stakeholders – France and Sweden

France, Sweden and Italy began discussing collaboration, with other countries later joining the fold. The countries involved in the Neuron programme were France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Greece and Switzerland.

Initially, discussions were held with other countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands and England, but did not result in their participation. At the ministerial level, cooperation between Sweden and France was good, and relations between the state procurement agencies were also good. Swedish government agencies were represented by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and French agencies by Direction générale de l'armement (DGA).

The French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation was responsible for the main contract and negotiations in the aircraft industry began in mid-2003. Parallel to this, discussions were held between government agencies in the participating countries, which resulted in the signing of a MoU at the end of 2003, between FMV and DGA and between Dassault Aviation and Saab.

Cutting-Edge Technology Programmes – Technology Demonstrators for Proof of Concept

The aim of the Neuron programme, as defined by the government agencies, was to develop a vehicle in the form of a technology demonstrator, including a ground station. The vehicle was to conduct flights in France, Sweden and Italy in order to demonstrate its characteristics and capabilities.

Specific characteristics and capabilities for the technology demonstrator included a low radar signature, to the extent this was possible within the programme, and protection against electromagnetic radiation. Another objective was to demonstrate that weapons could be used against ground targets following a very short decision-making process.

The programme also included the development of cutting-edge techniques and technologies, which were to offer great flexibility and low development costs!

The technical challenges mostly concerned the development and verification of new technology in a number of areas, such as ground target operations and autonomous behaviour, including mission replanning. The programme was even to test the possibility of using avionics comprised of open technical architecture.

One essential characteristic for the vehicle was a low signature, and this challenge led to changes in the vehicle design throughout the project. Another requirement was that the vehicle should comply with airworthiness requirements.

Sweden and Saab were interested in participating due to the following aspects:

  • International positioning of the Swedish aircraft industry in a European procurement perspective.
  • Strategic direction of the Swedish undertaking for technical components unique to unmanned vehicles.
  • Completing work packages in avionics, especially as regards the technology area of autonomy.
  • Completing work packages that support the capability to build entire vehicle systems.
  • Supporting technical development and Sweden's capability to further develop the Gripen and other manned/unmanned systems throughout the entire life cycles of these products.

During the negotiations, there was much positioning as to who should receive the work package to develop the control system for the Neuron. In the end, Dassault Aviation was made responsible for the development of the control system while Saab was handed responsibility for other vital systems.

Positioning from Sweden – prime contractor level

The Neuron programme was conducted under French leadership with Sweden (Saab and Volvo Aero) as an important participant. The coordinating Swedish government agency was FMV. The roles that FMV and Saab negotiated at the prime contractor level positioned Sweden very well.

During the negotiations, the work was divided into work packages that were awarded to aircraft industry companies in the partner countries. Saab received the work packages for low signature, flight testing, aerodynamics, avionics, the fuel system, and the design and production of the main fuselage.

Systems and concepts – new concepts and technical maturity

The technical aspects of the vehicle and system, which was originally equipped with a double-swept wing, were developed throughout the programme.

The upper figure shows the original Neuron concept from the start of the programme. The lower figure shows the final concept.

The main reason for changing the concept was that the requirement for a low signature could not be achieved. This meant that the original vehicle, which was smaller in both size and weight, increased from about 5.5 tonnes to some 7 tonnes. Saab's part of the central fuselage increased from about 800 to 1100 kg, which was a very large increase that required many changes in the work already conducted.

The different design philosophies of the aircraft industry companies involved also meant that Saab ended up with a more complex fuselage. The design and construction work was shared between Dassault Aviation and Saab, each with their own philosophies and processes. This resulted in approximately three times as many fasteners than originally calculated being necessary to manufacture and assemble the aircraft.


Programme management and development – impact on the timetable

The programme was originally planned to start at the end of 2004 with the first flight scheduled for the end of 2009. Saab submitted its final tender at the beginning of 2005, in accordance with the timetable. At that time, the programme had been condensed into a development period of about four-and-a-half years.

The programme could not start due to internal political discussions in Sweden, with decisions put on hold about a month before the planned start. This delayed the programme by eight months. This was the first time the timetable was altered. At that time, the aircraft companies had already started to act and had co-located operations in Paris at their own expense.

The original timetable from 2005, on which all calculations were based, is shown at the top of the figure on the following page. Throughout the programme, a number of changes were made to the timetable for different reasons. At the start of the programme, the timetable appeared as in the second timetable from the top in the figure on the following page.

At programme level, Dassault Aviation had a programme manager and, initially, Saab and Alenia (Italian Aircraft Company) each had an assistant programme manager. This proved useful in the beginning, but unnecessary during the later phases of the programme, as by then a functioning structure had evolved for conducting work and required little input from Saab.

The programme management team at the French agency DGA was replaced on three occasions, the reason being that French government agencies apply a relatively short mandate period before an employee is transferred within their organisation. This meant that the programme shifted from its original pronounced focus on technology development to a stronger focus on product development as time went by.

The requirement specifications were also severely delayed during the first phase of the programme due to a decision made by Dassault Aviation's parent company. The programme was forced to use new IT tools that proved to be of very low maturity. Delays even arose due to the differences between the participating companies as regards corporate terminology, experiences and design philosophy approaches. This resulted in more complex design solutions and Saab ended up with a more complex fuselage to develop and produce.

The timetable established after the pilot study is the third timetable from the top in the figure on the following page. This timetable was never approved by all programme participants as it was considered insufficiently mature and questionable. The first flight was scheduled for November 2011.

Thereafter, the timetable was a constant source of discussions and negotiations. The timetable from 2009 is the fourth from the top in the figure on the following page. It was amended as regards the work during the integration and final assembly phases.

Technological challenges – open architecture

The avionics work package comprised central technologies and the aim was to develop the autonomy function into a verified pilot replacement with a degree of tactical decision capability. The avionics area also encompassed extensive work on the overall system architecture, together with its control and communication principles.

Additionally, the avionics work package encompassed what was referred to as open architecture in the Neuron programme, comprising efforts to develop an avionics architecture with greater freedom in the choice of hardware and software suppliers.

In order to get hardware programming to function while retaining the design principles, consideration must be taken for flight safety requirements and the ability to handle a number of different software applications.

Saab was responsible for developing the vehicle fuselage as regards the design, installation and production of the forward and mid-sections. One work package encompassed radar signature adaptation and protection against electromagnetic radiation, another encompassed the development of landing gear doors and the engine outlet. The latter work package entailed both the design and the production of the landing gear doors.

There was also a work package for the propulsion system, which was shared with Volvo Aero and concerned the design of the engine's outlet section. The design of the engine outlet was, for the Swedish companies, limited to the development of a general solution for the cooling design and other aspects. The detailed design and production was assigned to another participant in the Neuron programme.

Within the area of aeronautics, Saab cooperated with Dassault Aviation on the design of the entire vehicle. Saab was to focus on rudder design and high-speed performance, as well as to conduct high-speed wind tunnel testing of selected configurations.

International Collaboration Programmes – Forms of Cooperation and Rights To The Results

International partnerships face challenges in the shape of differences in strategy, aims and culture between the participating companies. Whilst avoiding extremes, it has been observed that regular – and at the beginning of the programme continuous – communication is essential to minimise misunderstandings. Such misunderstandings can arise from the different processes and methodologies used by the companies, but also quite simply from language problems.

There was concern from the beginning regarding technology transfer, that is, that the company's (unique) technological expertise is transferred to the other companies, who in other contexts are competitors.

The negotiated contract meant that the technologies which each company developed would be their property. Technologies developed in collaboration would be jointly owned by the concerned parties and companies would have no rights to other results.

Results, benefits and effects – new working procedures and methodologies

In terms of capability, the greatest benefit of the Neuron programme for Saab stemmed from work on the airframe (fuselage). A new methodology and a new working procedure were developed for fuselage design, preparations, production engineering and assembly.

The method was model-based definition (MBD), and with MBD all information about the airframe could be stored in 3D models. Information only needed to be defined once. Moreover, everyone working on the airframe had access to all information as soon as it was added. This streamlining concerned the production of manufacturing documentation, which encompassed parts, assembly and final assembly.

No physical design documents were used, only data created and processed using various IT tools. The most important IT tools were CATIA and VPM V5, which were used for design documentation, Delmia, which was used for manufacturing documentation, and ERP, which was used for order and work management.

The new working procedure enabled production engineers to handle the transfer of product data from design structures to production structures, as well as to write work instructions based on 3D data. A new methodology and new tools were used in development work and production, and a completely new IT infrastructure was introduced.

Success factors – planning and co-location

One success factor for the Neuron programme was very good planning. The most important aspect of this was the activities conducted at an early stage to specify what was to be done in each programme phase.

Each component used in the design was coordinated with every manufacturing step in production, and responsibility was clearly assigned for each deliverable. One important simplification of the work was the ability to work with assembly simulations. The greatest time savings were gained from the work with access simulations, which were used to assess how assembly should be conducted. New ways of producing work instructions for production also reduced lead times and simplified work tasks.

The introduction of visual work instructions promoted a standardised working procedure by eliminating ambiguities and reducing the need for interpretation in production. The project was also well underpinned by methodological support in conjunction with the implementation of new IT tools, which aided the development of an effective working procedure.

Another success factor was co-locating all personnel, since this action shortened decision-making channels and increased the involvement of the concerned line managers. Both financial and technical mandates were delegated to project staff. Reference groups were used to ensure involvement in and the anchoring of all project decisions.

Value streams

The new working procedure and value stream approach provided improved communication about what was to be done and ensured the participation of all employees by promoting a culture in which everything that needed to be resolved was clearly presented. All employees throughout the value stream had access to the same information in the form of models.

The ability to view individual components and entire designs as 3D models makes the information easier to grasp. Workshop personnel receive a 3D model with all manufacturing information generated from the most recent design configuration.

One major advantage of a process-oriented working procedure is that it eliminates the lead time for the distribution of manufacturing documentation.

Almost no difficulties were encountered in assembly. When assembling the first manufactured component the fit was the best ever. No redesign due to collisions in assembly or installation was required.

Early in the planning stage the major cost savings provided by the new working procedure were apparent. This resulted in much new experience and much curiosity about the new working procedure. The project work included documenting experiences and refining them ready for a handover to the next project.

Later, this too proved to provide major cost savings, and the result was increased productivity, reduced manufacturing costs and improved quality. The new working procedure entailed 42% lower costs compared to working in line with conventional methodologies and 2D design (2009)!

Examples of important milestones during the period 2011–2013


  • Airframe delivered to Dassault Aviation.
  • Hardware for avionics delivered for global and flying rigs and vehicle.
  • Vehicle's electric systems started up.
  • Fuel and engine testing conducted.
  • Functional development of avionics system ready for integration.
  • Integration with ground station initiated.
  • Complete system integration initiated, for which Dassault Aviation was responsible.


  • Official presentation in France.
  • Support to enable testing.
  • Rig and ground tests conducted.


  • Flight testing conducted in accordance with applicable flight testing programme.
  • Bomb release demonstration and autonomy testing.
  • Signature testing for flying towards threats.
  • Trials to test detectability by radar and electromagnetic radiation.

Recommendations – General

This section highlights important experiences and offers recommendations for participation in advanced technology development projects in international industrial and government collaborations.

Project management – a cultural challenge

Participating in aircraft system projects conducted as European partnerships provides increased experience of programme management in complex international industrial environments.

The Neuron programme provided important experience in programme management, systems design, vehicle design and airworthiness.

The form of programme management and control was of central importance. A central team was established in France with responsibility for overarching decisions. The participating companies each had a core team within their organisation back home, a structure that provided stability for managing the programme.

Moreover, organisational capabilities were greatly increased by using the MBD method for the airframe work package.

Sweden's participation has provided insight into issues concerning organisation, work distribution, commercial management and negotiations in an international environment.

When evaluating past international collaboration programmes, they are often associated with unnecessarily complicated results that lead to delays and increased costs.

Such effects are not core causes themselves but rather the consequences of problems that arise during a project, due to either internal or external events.

The Neuron programme was not completely devoid of such problems. One of the reasons for this was that the partners' domestic operations were issued different goals as the programme progressed. These changes could be due to changes on the business side of things, reorganisations, a new focus on other products and a myriad other reasons.

As a consequence, it is important that the centrally located organisation in a multinational collaboration programme is synchronised with its counterpart organisation back home.

Approach – respect for cultural differences

Cultural differences, both professional and national, most often comprise the greatest burden in collaborative efforts. It is important to be able to accept cultural differences, as one often has limited opportunities to change such differences. It is more important to relate and adapt to them and to create a functioning environment with joint procedures.

Negotiations – managing decision processes

Negotiations most often take considerably longer than expected. According to the original timetable, the time from signing the MoU to starting the programme was supposed to be one year. In the end, it stretched to two-and-a-half years. This was due to slow and unsynchronised decisions at national level.

One ought to look into the time taken to prepare the necessary documentation for decisions. This applies to public administration within government agencies as well as to political processes and decisions. When performing calculations, it is very important to include wide margins, otherwise there is a risk of undesirable consequences in the shape of increased costs.

Negotiation team – confidence and continuity

One must appoint a negotiation team with perseverance and the ability to create good relations with counterparts in negotiations.

As far as possible, keep the same team members throughout the negotiations. Confidence and continuity are central in international negotiations, with great value placed on personal contacts and relations.

The negotiation team should have a clear and preferably far-reaching mandate as much of the negotiating takes place in informal meetings. In southern Europe in particular, a promise or acceptance in a private discussion is considered binding.

In other cultures, particularly Latin cultures, people are more sensitive to representatives being switched. Personal relations are important and must be continually maintained.

Work content – responsibilities and conflicts of interest

The distribution of work content is often based on industrial or, alternatively, political willingness and possible financing. During the negotiation stage, it is easy to create work packages wherein the parties divide work and responsibilities between several companies, most often due to all parties wanting to safeguard their interests. Initially, this may seem sensible, but it leads to a severe lack of clarity and can cause responsibility and budget issues.

Managing interfaces, whether they concern technology or forms of collaboration, involves extensive work as they are often subject to changes and updates.

Risk provisions – managing probable changes

Long collaboration programmes with many participants (government agencies and companies) are unpredictable and complicated.

Changes can be of an industrial nature or influenced by political decisions. Participants must be prepared to manage both types.

As far as possible, ensure that the programme organisation is affected as little as possible by internal decisions within each participating company. This is particularly important in the case of the company that is responsible for the main contract.

It is important to set aside considerable risk provisions from the start for events that cannot be predicted. Even if one considers the risk associated with a particular work package to be small, circumstances can change over time. The likelihood of such events is very tangible in international projects.

Experiences and recommendations – pilot study

It is important that all involved agree on the goals of the pilot study. Moreover, all involved must agree as to what documentation is needed.

The benefits to be gained are highly dependent on the results to be produced and the expected final outcome of the pilot study. It is essential to both create and agree on a timetable for the pilot study phase. This lays the foundation for all involved fulfilling their commitments in accordance with the established and documented conditions.

A joint timetable that has been officially approved by all involved must be established by the end of this phase. The Neuron programme ran into difficulties because a joint, agreed and – not least – accepted timetable was established far too late.

Co-location is an important aspect of the pilot study if the parties are to cooperate fruitfully. Moreover, if the partnership is to run smoothly on a day-to-day basis, the parties ought to establish a joint project team. This team defines requirements and goals and makes overall design decisions.

The tools and methods to be used in the development phase are defined during the pilot study phase. This even includes defining information flows, IT architecture, system structures and interfaces between information systems. This work is critical and should not be underestimated since it is very time-consuming.

Requirements and conditions that are defined during the pilot study phase will most likely change over time. This means that calculations and contracts also need to be amended and most likely renegotiated. All contracts must include one or more checkpoints to assess whether amendments are necessary. This is particularly important in programmes for which design-to-cost is an important factor.

Experiences and recommendations – implementation

Central to all major collaboration programmes is to ensure that all parties follow a joint timetable.

Multiple strategies need to be drawn up for different development work scenarios. Alternative plans must be established in case one of the participating companies falls behind in the development work, or in case the integration of different technical systems proves problematic.

One relatively common phenomenon was for a partner to wait to inform the others about a problem they had encountered, hoping that another partner would run into problems that overshadowed their troubles. This way, they could avoid responsibility for delaying work.

One cornerstone of development work is a well-functioning change management board that can discuss and decide on all types of changes. It is important that the administrative aspects of these decisions are well implemented.

Contracts must include stipulations regulating financial liability for both technical and project-related changes and their consequences.

Many technical decisions can have major financial consequences that the concerned parties must be aware of and approve.

A well-functioning IT environment reduces the need for co-location during the implementation phase compared to development work during the pilot study phase. When work has progressed to final assembly and integration, however, a greater need for co-location arises once more. This is due to the need to quickly resolve problems that arise concerning both the fuselage and the software.

It is essential to have a small group of people who can quickly identify and resolve or dismiss problems. If this cannot be done as soon as the problem arises, there must be procedures for referring the problem to the relevant development organisation.

Regarding central project management, smaller co-located teams with all partners represented are an effective solution. This approach underpins the coordination of the programme, as it reduces or avoids controversies.

Good communication is essential, especially if the development teams are not fully integrated with the work flow. The participating companies can be located in many places/countries and use different types of IT systems.

In the Neuron programme, special data links were leased to connect Saab's teams in Linköping and France. This proved to be a good investment as video and data links with good bandwidth could be used, which reduced the amount of travel that would otherwise have been necessary.


Cooperation between industry and government agencies

During the procurement process, the participating partners must have the same ideas for the business model. Establishing the practicalities for cooperation between the industry and the concerned government agencies at an early stage simplifies the entire process.

It is also important that government agencies and the industry have the same view of how a research project is to provide contact networks, experience and results for future industrial collaboration.

All participating companies must reach consensus on scheduling throughout the duration of the programme. The partner with ultimate responsibility for the programme must ensure that even in practice all companies follow the joint timetable.

In early programme phases it is not possible to force through all decisions. They must evolve from cooperating within the programme and be given the necessary time to become well-anchored and viable.

Every company that participates in an international collaboration programme must have defined its room for compromises, which can be achieved by defining internal goals for programme participation. If this has been done, one can also evaluate a counterpart's goals. This is good preparation for being able to compromise on or assert one's goals. It is important that every participating company adheres to the original and agreed strategic objectives.

Multicultural projects

Recruiting the right individuals for collaboration in a multicultural project is very important. Employees' social skills play a key role in many decision-making contexts and the personal relationships that are formed weigh heavier than documents and requirement specifications. These circumstances are important to consider in day-to-day activities. When selecting programme participants, consider both social maturity and technical expertise.

In all international partnerships it is important to find an effective means for utilising the experiences of all involved parties and stakeholders.

Important events and decision processes ought to be documented so as to enable useful conclusions for future actions. This increases the opportunities to transfer experience and expertise to subsequent projects and thereby gain increased capability and preparedness for future challenges.

The following changes must be managed in an organised manner:

  • Early identification of all technical interfaces is necessary to ensure that issues of responsibility are defined in the various contracts.
  • Establishing and locking the design and layout of a complex product takes a great deal of time.
  • All participants in an international partnership must ensure that risks are defined as delays will most likely occur.

Design changes, large and small, have greater consequences the closer the programme is to delivery and final assembly. Even relatively small changes can cause delays in the programme.

Since most parties face financial constraints during the later phases of a programme, it is important to have established how liability and responsibility are to be distributed already during the initial stages of the programme. Nobody wants to fund changes. Change management must be a well-organised process wherein the opportunities to implement changes are increasingly constrained the further the programme has progressed.

Architecture – prerequisite for effective working procedures

Architecture work is a joint pursuit and must be agreed upon. This applies to product architecture as well as information and system architecture. The partners must reach full agreement on the technical infrastructure and the IT-based infrastructure to be used in the project.

A working procedure involving many tools and the transfer of large quantities of information will cause major problems if it fails to function in practice. The Neuron programme had to expend extensive resources on getting this to work and while it took longer than planned, the final result fulfilled the established goals. Since the Neuron programme was a demo programme, new methodologies could be developed for both development work and production.

This benefited Saab in the Neuron programme, but will perhaps deliver most benefit in future work on other products.

Success factors – practical experience

  1. A business model which is well-prepared prior to negotiations.
  2. An organisational structure which can make decisions, handle changes and ensure the practical application of experience sharing and continuous learning.
  3. An understanding of the time aspects of collaborating with international partners in other cultures.
  4. The willingness, capability and confidence to test new working procedures, as well as perseverance and the confidence to make choices.
  5. Create forms of management and control that work between many international actors with the right focus throughout long development projects.


  1. Secure mentors to support project and programme management, as well as steering committees, when embarking on international industry projects.
  2. Have a model and a working procedure that can handle changes in contracts and the resulting consequences for responsibilities and commitments.
  3. Determine early on the terminology to be used by the parties throughout the programme.
  4. Avoid a political distribution of responsibility.
  5. Reach agreement early on that it is difficult and time-consuming to bridge the gaps between different companies' working languages, that is, their working procedures and processes.
  6. Strive for open, honest and trusting communication.
  7. Define early on how information is to be distributed. Establish which information channels are to be used.
  8. Be sure to establish a humble atmosphere early on. Problems are best aired directly; covering them up will simply cause problems towards the end of the project instead.

The author´s reflections