EADS: Six Sigma Improvement


EADS is Europe’s largest Aerospace, Defence and Security Group. Superior designs and effective marketing have driven up global market share and given an order book that is the largest in the world. To enhance their ability to deliver sophisticated products and services on time and on quality, a Quality and Operational Excellence Programme (QOEP) was launched, championed by the Chief Quality Officer (CQO), and Oakland was engaged from the outset.

This programme has three main elements: a Customer Review Process, improvements in the end-to-end Supply Chain and in Product Realisation, and the development of skills and knowledge in the key personnel who will lead improvements in operational performance, based on a new improvement methodology.


Oakland worked with the CQO on the QOEP strategy. Following this he assigned to Oakland the task of developing the EADS improvement approach “(DRIVER”) and the “EADS Black Belt” (EBB) programme that would incorporate best practice and focus on improvement, fit the EADS culture and align with ongoing initiatives to develop project and change management capabilities. The requirement was for a programme that would include learning sessions built around projects that deliver improvements in On-Time, On-Quality Delivery (OTOQD) and auditable business benefits of at least €150k per project. Oakland was also tasked with delivering the learning sessions and providing coaching for the participants. Included was an “Executive Black Belt” (ExBB) programme.


Building on a previous programme that Oakland had developed for Airbus, Lean and Six Sigma methods and tools were integrated from the start. The structure was to have core modules plus optional ones, with time built into the learning sessions to review participants’ progress on projects and coaching as required. EBB accreditation demands not only the testing of knowledge learned in the classroom and through e-learning but also completion of projects that deliver real business benefits and cost savings.

The first task was to engage the various business units (BUs) within EADS in the QOEP and EBB programme. The BU sites were engaged through a series of two-day visits by the QOEP Team. The background and objectives of the programme were explained to the BU senior management team, together with the role of the EBB programme.


Oakland had a four year frame contract (2007-2010) for the delivery of the EIP (EADS Improvement Programme) which have delivered the following benefits:

  • In excess of 4,500 employees from various Business Units around EADS have been trained and coached to deliver enhanced OTOQD performance of processes ranging from Finance, HR, IT, Procurement, Quality, Facilities, Marketing, Customer Services to Manufacturing and Design leading to audited annual benefits in excess €100 million at the rate of €400k per project.
  • The response from the participants has been universally positive. EADS is making an investment in its people who in turn are making a critical contribution to Quality, Operational Excellence and Customer value which in turn provides an ROI measured in months.
  • The programme is now supporting the new Power 8+ programme in EADS and is forecast to make a €300 million pa contribution by 2015. Oakland has been working with the CQO in executive briefing sessions and follow up activities to engage their top level commitment and funding for the programme.