Curtis W. Brown discusses The MBE Maturity Index: How it Establishes Top-Down Buy-In and Funding.
Here are a few audience questions that delved deeper into how the Maturity Index can support organizations at any level or size.
Question: In our very large organization, we are at various levels of maturity depending on the program. Does this tool account for that variability, or do we need to consider the different programs at different maturity separately in the assessment?
This is a very common scenario. Rows two and three in the Maturity Index talk about which organization is under assessment and how to select bound conditions to establish what you’re evaluating. You could have different maturity assessments for different programs, departments, suppliers, or even the entire enterprise. You can accommodate these for any organization or team.
It doesn’t need to be all-or-nothing for the entire company; take each piece of the puzzle as you go. Start by determining where you’re starting and where you’re going for each pilot, each project, or each part. Not every topic or category in the index may be applicable for your particular organization, and selecting ‘not applicable’ won’t impact your score if you determine it’s not relevant.
Question: Can you use this index for suppliers? Maybe without the Design Activities that are created by their customer that would establish this index by the supplier?
Absolutely. You could provide this to the supplier for self-assessment or evaluate them yourself. If a supplier doesn’t do design work, then you can still evaluate them by assessing their product data management, manufacturing, and quality. Enterprise Enabling is a fifth category that doesn’t directly impact the product but helps you become a Model-Based Enterprise.
Question: Is there a common percentage of cost savings that can be applied as justification to implement within a company and their suppliers?
This will come from pilot activities or demonstrations which calculate metrics rather than from the index. NIST has done some work here, and we exercise some comparisons like Level 1 versus Level 3, but this is something each company will need to evaluate individually. Believe it or not, most senior leadership does intuitively understand this is the right thing to do. You can use the index to compare levels, but it can’t tell you if this will result in cost savings of 23% versus 24%.
Question: Many see pursuing MBE as expensive and risky. There doesn’t appear to be a consistent and proven model to adopt MBE from end-to-end across the various areas of impact, and that scares businesses. MBE seems like a relatively immature approach to doing business. Technology changes may require a re-evaluation mid-stream at great expense. When do you believe MBE practices and technology will “standardize”/”stabilize”/”mature” enough to allow more to enter at less risk and expense? How do you imagine this playing out over 5 years, 10 years, 30 years? Have you seen similar thought patterns across various industries?
This is exactly what this tool is about: providing a progression from where you’re at to some higher maturity. It facilitates a stepwise progression by demonstrating where you want to go while knowing that you don’t have to jump all the way to the end to be successful; you want opportunities to make progress and celebrate along the way.
MBE can certainly be very costly if you dive in haphazardly or with hasty intentions. Taking an iterative approach to building capabilities or maturing specific capabilities tied to specific metrics are both paths to success. Level 4 is where you realize the greatest return on investment; earlier levels remain burdened by a traditional approach. There’s a major cost burden to trying to fit the old way into new business practices; creating new practices for a model-based program requires a steeper learning curve but yields greater results.
As this matrix has evolved and been used as a communication tool to normalize the language of MBE, it has helped align thinking around “where we are now” and “where we’re going.” This common language supports conversations around risk. If a new program notionally says they want to achieve Level 4, we’ll conduct some pilots and compare where we would be traditionally against a pilot where we exercise Level 4 practices so we can learn what the risks may be and either mitigate or accommodate them.
If stakeholders demand you reach Level 4 in three years, you can create a roadmap to mitigate as much risk as possible. This helps reassure the owner of the next program that you’ve addressed those risks as best you can and you’ve provided mitigations for them. Ideally, making comparisons to show what kind of benefits the next program can achieve in a like situation. They may take the same number of years, but they may accomplish more cycles of learning to improve the quality of the product multiple times within the same timeframe – and eventually get faster as well.
Question: Interoperability requirements across the lifecycle remain the ‘Achilles heel’ for adoption. Any thoughts on how to include that topic in the Maturity Index?
The overall theme of each level is to go more digital and more connected to make smarter, more automated decisions. Facets called Traceability and Response to Change enforce the need for interoperability or direct Digital Thread connection. Response to Change is forward-looking while Traceability looks back, and so the index addresses both. As you mature, you connect more and more threads to establish traceability to your authoritative sources and become more responsive to change.
Question: Are there common overlaps with Industry 4.0 activities?
There’s a lot of overlap between Industry 4.0 and Model-Based Enterprise (MBE). Industry 4.0 focuses on a digital factory scenario and tends to be more heavily emphasized in the European market. Model-Based Enterprise focuses on integrating the capabilities of Model-Based Definition (MBD) and Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and is often emphasized in the American market. Somewhere in the middle is what will bloom as we all continue to evolve – maybe into Industry 5.0?
Question: Do you suggest any particular tools to help with the transition to Level 3+?
We try to stay tool-neutral and eliminate references to tools in favor of describing what you need to do, not how. The beauty of this is that you assess yourself to see if you have the capability, tools, or technology to do this – some you’ll already have, some you’ll need to acquire and vet. Part of the Maturity Index is assessing your current tools and technologies, whatever they may be.
Question: Any final thoughts on the MBE Maturity Index?
You need to be able to communicate, and the Maturity Index includes a precise lexicon to start with because we need to remove ambiguity when we talk to each other. Common language is a core foundation of being confident, doing things faster, and being more collaborative. The entire organization can benefit from a shared understanding of exactly what words mean.
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Mr. Curtis Brown is a long-time champion for digital product realization, from model to metal to measure. He is a lead mechanical engineer and MBE Focus Lead at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) managed and operated by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technology. He is the chairmen for National Security Enterprise’s MBE Committee and a major contributor to the NSE’s next generation of the MBE Maturity Index. His “real work” history is as Quality Engineer supporting numerical controlled coordinate measurement machines (CMMs) and science-based manufacturing with a quality emphasis. He was the inventor of the model-based tolerance application Feature-Based Tolerancing (FBTol) Advisor tool. Curtis is the President of the Digital Metrology Standards Committee (DMSC) which fosters and produces ANSI approved digital interoperability standards such as the Qualify Information Framework (QIF). His recent attention is towards transforming product realization organizations from a file-centric, 2D drawing-based business to a part-centric, model-based digital enterprise.
Curtis W. Brown
Lead Mechanical Engineer