Closing the Gap Between Strategy and Results

RPM Systems Corporation

Copyright © 2011 RPM Systems Corporation

Boeing Apache Helicopter Development Portfolio

From time to time companies "bet the company" on a particular strategy. When the US Army wanted an Advanced Attack Helicopter, Howard Hughes' Helicopter Company was one of six bidders. The Helicopter Company was considered by many in the Army as Howard Hughes' personal hobby shop and not particularly well managed. The first challenge was for Hughes to be selected as one of the two companies that would be funded to build and test fly AAH prototypes. Hughes was selected. The next challenge was to win the flyoff against Bell Helicopter's entry into the competition, which Hughes did handily -- the Hughes AAH totally outperformed the Bell entry.

But there was a third challenge: convincing the Army that Hughes' "hobby shop" was capable of managing what later would become known to the world as the Apache Helicopter program.

Key to convincing the Army that Hughes had this management capability was to establish what today is generally referred to as an enterprise program management office (EPMO). At Hughes, the EPMO looked at the total enterprise, from military helicopters, to commercial helicopters and ordnance plus facilities and information technology investments. If the Apache was to be successful, the company's scarce resources had to be focused on only a few strategic objectives. A number of innovative management best practices were pioneered on the Apache. They included:

This was the beginning of strategic portfolio management and it was the beginning of RPM Systems' experience in developing systems to manage large portfolios, scarce resources and from time to time a "bet the company" strategy. It work for Hughes. The Apache went into production. The company was sold to McDonnell Douglas which in turn was acquired by Boeing.

The graphic below depicts some of the highlights of the Hughes EPMO operation.

Formerly Hughes Helicopter Company