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Author's profile photo Dyan Schertler

For Aerospace and Defense Companies, It’s All About the Software

There’s nothing simple about the aerospace and defense industries, but that doesn’t mean they cannot simplify processes and business systems.

That was among the key messages from a panel discussion by SAP and some of its most innovative customers and partners at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference highlighting what’s powering the next economic revolution for aerospace and defense companies.

The top five presentations included insights into how high-performing companies display the following attributes:

1. Improve Employee Engagement with Continuous Learning

Companies trying to attract and retain top engineering talent need to build a culture of continuous learning, Jennifer Anglehart, global manager of talent acquisition for B/E Aerospace, said during her SAPPHIRE NOW session.

B/E Aerospace, which manufactures cabin interior products for commercial and military aircraft, never had a program to prepare its employees to advance
within the company. Anglehart uses SuccessFactors™ software from SAP to create, deliver, measure, and evaluate corporate learning programs. B/E Aerospace has
added four of these programs to develop corporate leaders, individual contributors, supervisors and team leads, and managers and directors.

The training has been so successful that 70% of the employees who completed B/E Aerospace’s emerging leader program are now in director-level roles.

2. Use Business Intelligence to Ensure That Projects Work as Planned

Defense contractors rely on earned value systems to manage programs to be completed on cost. At Pratt & Whitney, there are 25,000 monthly tasks or work packages to track, along with the costs associated with each. The engine manufacturer uses Dassian software, built on top of SAP HANA technology, to manage its
estimate at completion (EAC) process.

Dassian enables real-time costing, often updated many times a day, and accounts for actual costs that can lag behind delivery of resources. Pratt & Whitney
realized significant business improvements since switching to Dassian and SAP HANA, said Tom Fanciullo, earned value management system (EVMS) manager,
during his session.

The federal government had been withholding 5% of revenue for EAC payments to Pratt & Whitney but reduced the amount to 2% after seeing the Dassian/SAP HANA system in action.

“Having projects come in on cost and our knowing whether they are or not [on cost] is critical to the government, and this has helped us facilitate that,” Fanciullo

3.  Reinvent Your Business with the Real-Time Power of the Internet of Things

Businesses are undergoing fundamental changes resulting from the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, said manufacturing analyst Robert Parker, a group vice president at IDC, in his session. The shifts are based on three core use cases for manufacturers:

  • Production with networked IoT devices on the shop floor connected to one another and to business systems to improve operations
  • Connected supply chains that integrate IoT devices to create visibility and efficiency
  • Smart products that can deliver maintenance services and new business models based on connectivity

4. Run Simple with SAP S/4HANA, the Next-Generation Business Suite

The latest software platform from SAP is designed to do things better, differently, and to do new things, said Uwe Grigoleit, global head, business development,
during the roundtable about this new software.

Peter Nikoletatos, executive director and chief information officer for La Trobe University, said he appreciates how the cloud-based version of SAP S/4HANA
disrupted existing systems and processes. La Trobe, with 27,000 students on six campuses in Australia, replaced a customized, highly inaccurate on-premise
finance system with the cloud-based SAP Simple Finance solution. As a result, Nikoletatos said 72 reports have been consolidated into five “because that’s
what we needed to actually run the business
five accurate, reliable reports and then an element of business intelligence as exception reporting.”

5. Connect Your Business to the World and the World to Your Business

Steve Singh, chief executive officer, Concur Technologies Inc., and a member of the global managing board of SAP SE, has this dream of making five core business
identity, payments, security, analytics, and messaging available to any network in the world.

That’s possible now, thanks to technology that can connect most business systems to one another and share information throughout global organizations. As explained in his keynote address, airlines use onboard sensors to monitor maintenance issues and report that information to enterprise resource planning systems that schedule the best time and location for the work to be performed. Parts are automatically sourced to preferred vendors at the best price available.

“When networks are connected, they can drive amazing value automatically and frankly on my behalf. They solve a problem for me without me having to get directly involved. That’s what software is supposed to do for us. That’s the world we see. That’s the world we’re working to create,” said Singh.

Watch all of the SAPPHIRE NOW presentations for aerospace and defense industry leaders.

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