Integration of requirements into processes at Lufthansa Technik

During the first Best Practice in Process Management workshop we discussed different solutions to integrate normative and legislative requirements into processes. Somehow the approaches of the participating companies were comparable, but depending on the individual situation of the organization, the implementation was different. To provide a more detailed overview about the LHT approach to the BPinPM readers, I asked Michael Bögle who is the head of LHT Group’s Management System operations to give an interview about his experience in this area of process management.

Mirko: Before we dive into the details of requirement management, can you tell our readers a little bit more about your process management background?

Michael: After I had joined Lufthansa in 1987, I spent the first years of my career working relatively close to the aircraft in areas such as work planning and quality inspection. When LHT put an additional focus on quality management activities in the mid-nineties, I took over the audit department and thereafter the quality assurance and training department of the Lufthansa Technik aircraft overhaul facility in Hamburg. It was then that I realized the power and importance of a structured approach to managing processes. Therefore, it was almost logical for me to join the management team of a  project that would later be called ‘IQ MOVE’. Here, an attempt was made to replace the existing LHT regulations and procedures by a role based, integrated system, developed with a focus on the needs of the employees while at the same time ensuring compliance with all applicable regulations and standards. The latter was the area that took my particular attention during the project phase.

Mirko: While developing the methodology, what was particularly important to you and how did you proceed?

Michael: Being part of a well regulated industry, it is crucial for us to make absolutely sure that we are continuously in compliance with the requirements that form the basis of our approvals and certifications. A dedicated sub-project was formed in 2003 and we started the job by looking around in the industry in an attempt to determine best practices in ensuring compliance. Quickly, it became obvious to us that we needed a link between a particular requirement and the processes that we have in place to fulfill that requirement.  This was when our ‘compliance engine’, as we know it today, came into being. By attaching a particular requirement to a process and having an expert check process conformity, we not only make it easy to demonstrate compliance to interested parties, but also achieve another major advantage: no employee needs detailed knowledge about a specific requirement. You know you are always in compliance by simply following the process.

Mirko: How does the final methodology look like?

Michael: We use a risk assessment process in order to determine which requirements we have to put into IQ MOVE. A so called ‘Requirement Manager’ is assigned and the requirement is broken down into sub requirements and eventually individual tasks. The task constitute an interpretation of the requirement and follow a particular syntax (object, predicate, circumstance). They answer the question: ‘What does the specific requirement call for?’. Requirement, sub requirements and tasks are documented in the Requirement Database. When this is accomplished, the tasks are assigned to the applicable processes, which are checked for conformity at the same time. Only after this conformity check has been performed by the Requirement Manager in accordance with defined criteria, the process is published.

Mirko: Especially in aviation industry there are a lot of different requirements to fulfill. How many different requirement domains does the system cover at the moment?

Michael: Depending on the country, in which a particular LHT Group Company is operating, up to 15 requirement domains apply. They range from aviation regulations, quality management norms environmental and health & safety requirements to foreign trade law, etc..

Mirko: What is your experience with the feedback of auditors about this implementation?

Michael: For some external auditors it took some time to get used to the fact that besides the Integrated Management Manual there is no conventional ‘manual’ any more on which to base an approval or a certification. However, once the advantages of IQ MOVE especially in the field of user-friendliness, overview and compliance demonstration are understood, the system is highly appreciated and quite often regarded as industry benchmark.

Mirko: And what about the internal feedback? What do process owners, employees, and management think about the methodology?

Michael: Since user acceptance ranks highest among the IQ MOVE objectives, we ask the stakeholders of our system for feedback on a regular basis. From the answers we receive it is quite obvious that the methodology to ensure compliance and the support they receive in this area by the Requirement Managers are highly valued by both process owners and managers.  Employees appreciate the fact that they do not need to be directly exposed to the regulations in order to stay in compliance with the rules.

Mirko: To give an outlook, what are the current challenges from your point of view as the head of our management system operations?

Michael: From my perspective we have meanwhile reached a stable situation in the area of requirement management. This includes various improvements which were implemented over the years in order to make it easier for the Requirement Managers to work with the IQ MOVE. Currently, we are working on a better way to implement changes to regulations within the organization. A working group will be established in order to further optimize this process in the course of 2012.

Another aspect requiring more attention in the future is the integration of the process owner role into the established organizational structures. This will also be discussed in further detail during next week’s workshop „Process Management Roles“.

Mirko: Thank you for this interview. More insights about the identified best practices in the area of requirement management will be published on our blog within the next days. In addition, we will also report about the results of the upcoming “Process Management Roles” workshop.

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