Reducing Supply Chain Risks and Increasing Mission Success to Mars And Beyond

Cindy Mead

Chief Management Systems Branch at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Learning Objectives

Risks are inevitable especially when going past the boundaries of Earth, but with a plan, the proper data and a well-designed information system Supply Chain risks can be significantly reduced increasing mission success. Nasa Goddard has made substantial advancements in the last few years, come learn what we have done to reduce our Supply Chain risks.

Key Takeaways:

  • Who is NASA Goddard and how complex is their Supply Chain?

  • How does NASA Goddard manage their Supply Chain risks?

  • What is NASA Goddard’s information system and how does it bring the data together to reduce Supply Chain risks?

"Instead of hoarding data, let's share the data. Let's evaluate the data based on how it interfaces with each other. "

Cindy Mead

Chief Management Systems Branch at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


Hello, welcome to my presentation of reducing supply chain risk, and increasing mission success to Mars and beyond. I am Cindy Mead from the Goddard Space Flight Center. And I’m the Chief of the management system branch. I can tell you that I have given 1000s of presentations throughout my career. And I’m the most nervous about this one. Because I had to set up the audio visual, and it’s coming from my home. I’m also the type of presenter that likes to take inputs from the audience. And from the audience, I can tell when I need to take a little longer to explain the topic. And when I don’t need that extra time. Unfortunately, today, I don’t have that, but Welcome to my home. And let’s have a try to have an enjoyable time as I go through this presentation. Our agenda? We’re going to start with Goddard’s mission who is Goddard, and what do we do? I’m going to talk to you a little bit about a supply chain management and why it’s important. The strategic challenges to minimize supply chain risk throughout our projects, and improve our processes to achieve excellence and reduce risk. How we move from supply chain assessments to supply chain management. How we empower teams to develop tools to manage Goddard supply chain and how we acquired supplier insight through our it tools, which complying supplier data and provide supplier alerts. Goddard was NASA’s first and therefore the oldest Space Center. It was established in May of 1959. Less than a year after President Eisenhower had established established the National Space Act.

Shortly after Goddard was established it became the world leader in science and the development and design of space systems to gather that science. Gardner is made up of six installations across the country. The main campus is the greenbelt campus in Greenbelt, Maryland, just north of Washington, DC. The Wallops Island is the Virginia is where NASA’s only owned spaceflight center is, most people would say it was Kennedy but Kennedy is owned by the Air Force. So NASA’s only owned Space Flight Center is Wallops Island, Virginia. The Katherine Johnson IV and V center is in West Virginia. We have the Columbia scientific balloon facility, our newest acquired facility, which is in Texas. A small facility set up in gifts New York and the same building that Seinfeld was filmed. And the white side sands test facility in New Mexico. Check could share some interesting times I’ve had out there. Got it has a diverse mission portfolio. We have Helio physics, Earth Science, astrophysics, and Lunar and Planetary Science. And I can tell that this is the latest chart that we’ve produced, because we have Osiris Rex. Osiris Rex is an interesting mission, where we set a satellite up to come in contact with an asteroid. We, it went close to the asteroid service set surface sent a plunger down to collect debris and dust from the surface and is bringing it back to Earth. If you want to read about a really interesting mission we have going on, we’ve got the Parker Solar Probe. It is going into Corona of the sun to determine why the temperature decreases as you go closer to the center of the sun. Being a chemical engineer with a mainly thermal background, I this one fascinates me and if you want to go look it up and read it about it. I think it will fascinate you also. Here are the worldwide locations of Goddard suppliers. You can see the blue dots are suppliers. And this is only To about 2600 of our suppliers we currently have about 10,000 suppliers. But we do not have all the data into our IT system right yet. And all of our projects have very complex, multi tiered supply chains that we have and each one is individually different. This year is a supply chain management and the way Goddard does their supply chain management. We’ve changed quite a few things. Over the last few years we’ve moved from supplier assessments to supply chain management, you can see our core functions. We have acquisition, evaluation and risk management, performance management, and supplier development. says we are on the cusp of new technology with almost all of our projects, we have to establish a rapport with the pliers and teach them how to build our new technology devices or hardware. This is where the supplier development comes in. And we do this through small business programs and outreach. So that we can get these parts built the way we need them to be built. This all goes into ensuring mission performance and mission success. So why is Supply Chain Management important? Like I said before, it’s because we need to make sure that our supply chains are strong, resilient, and do whatever we can to ensure strong mission success. Here’s an example of what happens when supply chain management is not done well. The sole source supplier for the space shuttle flexible insulation blankets so the white thick blankets that go on the upper surface of the space shuttle notified us they were going out of business. Yes, most of my career was spent on the Space Shuttle. The task I was given as the supervisor of the thermal protection system engineering function


I was given one month to go determine what blankets we would need for the next 20 years and produce them. This was an impossible task. Because there were four shuttles flying at the time. No two shuttles have the same configuration. There were many reasons. One reason was that 30 by 30 blankets, which could be installed at original build could not be installed at Kennedy. Therefore those blankets had to be cut and reshaped whatever damage occurred to them and cut into smaller blankets. So no two shuttles at the same blankets. We would never know where exactly the damage would occur. We knew which areas had the higher risk of damage. But we never knew exactly what shape the blankets would be or where they would be the damage would occur. I lead a small team. And my task was to negotiate with the supplier to stay in business. Once we got there, we realized that was not going to happen. The average age of the supplier was at retirement age. They were ready to retire they had their plans made for retirement. And they did not want to stay around. We looked at the manufacturing observation operation and after going through the operation, I realized it wasn’t that complicated. So the My team and I returned to Kennedy with the recommendation that we should take that operation and move it to Kennedy and get one of our contractors to run it. And that’s exactly what we did. We set up a temporary housing facility for the operation until we could get a building built for it. And we convinced one of the managers of the supplier to come and help us ensure that we were making them correctly. And then we had everything set up right. We then got our prime contractor to support and take over that manufacturing. It was a tremendous success. But is that the way you want to do Supply Chain Management being reactive I mean given a month to go to to go change around a major operation like building these blankets No, that’s not the way to do supply chain management. You need to know about the issues and concerns of your suppliers ahead of time. And not just the quality of their technical work, or the evaluation, if they’re making the requirements are not. But you need to know about the company themselves. And that’s where our SRS come into play. And I will go into those a little bit more in the next few slides. So having mattered make these changes, it’s the same way most corporations need to make their changes. Our challenge was to move from a supply chain assessments to supply chain management’s. A common misunderstanding is that performing supply chain assessments is equivalent to supply chain management is not, you’re not managing your supply chain. With the assessments, you’re managing the work they’re doing. So what steps were required to move us in that direction. First of all, we had to become self aware that we weren’t doing supply chain management, and that we could improve. This took some patients, we originally did a meeting with my supply chain quality leads those who did the assessments. And I told them what we were doing, and how we were going to change our operation. We then set up meetings with each of the projects, face to face meeting with each of the projects, telling them what changes we want to make and why.

It’s like the product, the supply chain quality leads, we’re not just going to do a project assessments there, we’re not just going to be involved in the design and build phases. They’re going to be involved in all phases. They were going to provide that project with the risk that they had knew that we had with the different suppliers. We were going to ask the projects to give us input not only for the assessments we do, but in the past, we had our assessments were based on ISO and as ISO 9001. And as 9100. We wanted to tailor these assessments, and do more to help the projects. So therefore, we would have meetings before we did an assessment with the project managers and the CSOs as their chief safety officers and meet with them to see what issues Yeah, what concerns Do you have, what suppliers are you really concerned about? And they we use those to set up the assessments. And we would go out and look exactly at their concerns and their issues. At the same time, look using ISO and as 9100. But we would be the advisors. The supply chain quality leads would talk about the past performance of suppliers when they were choosing their suppliers. They would let them know about the capabilities of those suppliers if they had any questions with them. Because I supply chain quality leads were the most experienced with the suppliers that they have been to. And the data that we had collected into meta. We would talk about the risk assessments and managed and informed successful issues. Post assessment was also very different. After isn’t the assessment Indian, in the past would give them a report a written report telling them what issues we saw what concerns we had, and how they met their quality objectives and the requirements for the hardware or software. Well, we change that to having a face to face meeting with each of the projects that were using that supplier when we went when we came back from the supplier. We would sit with the supplier and we would talk to me Excuse me, we’d sit with the projects and we would talk to them about that supplier. And what we saw is concerns and issues. This face to face a lot of skip better feedback and have them ask more questions that they were concerned about. It also this whole new process helped her funding significantly. In the past, the projects didn’t see value for what we were doing. And it was harder to get the funding now We have more funding than we have people currently. I’m in the process of hiring people now. But they see the value they’ve understand now. Example. An example here is that when we, my supply chain Quality Manager, and I went out to visit with a CSO One day, he asked, What is your biggest issue or concern? He said, Well, we’ve been trying to find somebody to develop this specific type of harness for quite a while. And we just can’t find anybody. And I turned to my supply chain quality lead, and I said, Well, don’t we have about three or four of those in meta that we could give him the information on? And the answer was an astounding Yes. This, the CFO was very surprised that we had access to that information, and he did not know about it. And by the way, he had access to that information also. But this was a learning curve we had to get to, and we had to stay in contact with them, and make sure that we followed through and let them know what the information was available to them. It’s their supplier, and sites full of all kinds of information suppliers, not all suppliers. But the ones that we have in there, we have lots of information on when we also have to realize we’re never done. This is a continuous improvement process. With the new analytics and the new process to identify risk, and increase value to the projects. It’s constantly tweaking our processes, meeting with the projects, finding out how high you liked the changes we’ve made so far, what other changes would you like, but this is continuing. And it is never going to be finished.

Our supply chain risk management. This is how Goddard has designed its supply chain maturity matrix. we adapted this from Greg Schlegel book, the supply chain risk management, and emerging discipline. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. It’s a very good book on supply chain. But we tweak this a little bit as we always do, we changed a couple of things. But the bottom line is we needed to define our supply chain, we did not know what our supply chain was, we did not know which projects used our suppliers, or which suppliers they used. So we may go to a supplier and we’d find out when we got there. Oh, well, here’s a couple of the projects that’s being used. It wasn’t well defined. And we had to improve that. We also had to develop the visibility into our supply chain, knowing where the risk the major risk were. And from there you go to predictability, resilience and sustainability. But the bottom line here, the main purpose of doing this, is to as we develop our supply chain risk management capabilities. It’s our unreal link with no relinquishing or desire to and be able to anticipate, avoid, and reduce risk in ways to yield benefits and analytics, word view and advantages that can contribute to the overall success of our mission projects. How are we doing that? Let’s move on. This is Goddard supply chain map.


contains about 90% of our projects. But it does not contain all of our suppliers. The blue dots are projects. The yellow dots are suppliers. And the larger the, the more suppliers they’re supporting. Like I said before, we couldn’t tell what suppliers were being used on what projects until we’ve mapped our supply chain. And this is what our supply chain looks like. By the way, this is a Power BI diagram. And it’s linked directly to meta so as we add a new project or a new supplier, this map changes but a neat capability this map is this drill down capability. So say that we are looking at our suppliers Here’s our map. And we notice Oh, here’s a big yellow button who what suppliers that we click on that? And it tells us, oh, that’s TTM technologies. This is a fake company. So don’t worry, we’re not supplying real data here. TTM technologies, well, what suppliers does it support, we can tell by this diagram, it’s it, it supports several. But unless you want to follow each and every white line, you can’t see exactly which projects as are? Well, yes, you can here, you click on it again, and up comes all the projects that supporting you can, if you want to go even farther down, you can go over here and click on one of the projects, say jpss, or JW S T. And you can see exactly what hardware or software that TTM is applying, you can find out when the last assessment was done, what findings they had if an assessment was done, was an X ray done. And what were the results of that you just keep drilling down deeper and deeper. And you can find all the information we have on a supplier. I’ve been talking about supplier research analysis, but I’ve been calling them s arrays. What are SRS and what are they look at all assessments, the supplier assessments look at the quality side their technical abilities, they look at, are they building the hardware or software to our requirements? are they meeting those requirements? What nsra does is looks at the business side of the supplier and determines what risk we have there. Similar to when I was talking about the fib insulation blankets and the company that was building those that’s that would have been caught by nsra. Because fsra looks at these categories of information, the technical and production management. What are the quality management issues? They’re dealing with the manufacturing issues or their r&d innovation that they have? Or the bit another categories of business enterprise leadership, the strategy of the organization, the workforce, the supply chain management, the financial help, help, and the business alliances? Are they getting ready to be bought out? are they buying out somebody else? Are they moving their operations to another locale. Recently, we looked at a company that was being bought out and their operations were being moved to another country. And we were concerned and we really had planned on doing an assessment there. What we found out was in this new locale, unless we had armored vehicles and guards that were Alright, we’re armed. We weren’t going into that area. So we had to look at other options for what we could do. Another thing that we look at is are their market, the industry position, the trends, the conditions, the regulatory and legal, have they had lawsuits? Are they getting ready to have another lawsuit? You know, what is the trends? Are their employees happy?

Or are they getting ready to strike? And the last but not least, is security. The geopolitical situation, the socio economic environment, cyber security, and physical security. We look at, we look at some operations that are owned by American suppliers and find out they have a large China influence. Or there are China, people from trying to then own the company. Actually, these are concerns that we have to address. But we take all of these factors that we collect from our supply chain assessment, like I said, that evaluates the quality of suppliers technical work, and address the project’s concerns like is it a sole source supplier? Is it a supplier that’s been giving us problems in the past? We take those factors along with the supplier risk analysis factors, evaluating the technical production management, the business enterprise, the market and security. And we put those together to address the risk management. What is the likelihood versus consequence of a risk that we may identify. And once we have the risk, we develop mitigations to reduce those risks. And to ensure that our mission success, designing a system for data and information management, our old system, the way we used to do business, when I first came to Goddard, was a silo approach. My organization owned five databases, there were more or less repositories and databases. They were the silo approach, which means that Let’s keep this data to ourselves as don’t share it. That’s the old way of thinking. That traditional thinking of knowledge is power. So let’s keep it to ourselves. And it was a fragmented it software solutions. When I needed data, maybe it’s a How old were how many open old nonconformances, we have, I would have to ask our IT system that was in a different directory, to go pull a report for me. And that report would take me two weeks to get. Well, our new system, the meta approach was this system thinking. Instead of hoarding data, let’s share the data. Let’s evaluate the data based on how it interfaces with each other. This integrated scalable architecture, configurable it software solutions. Honestly, I sent my team out to get us an IT system. But what I requested was it had to be a COTS program, I did not have the funding or the manpower to to design and keep the system up to date with technology. So I want it to be a COTS program so the supplier can keep that up to date. With the latest technology. I wanted it to be something that we could quickly get data out of. And I wanted it to be have an app builder technology so that we could modify these applications and redesign them as we saw fit for our needs. Now in this depiction here of this queue, each separate colored cube is a different application. And several applications came with this program. This is an index based product that we were able to build our apps, and change modify as we saw fit. Here’s a pre meta status of the meta applications. All there are 22 applications on this chart. This chart is a year old. We now have 28 applications and have been requested to build three more to date. The yellow ovals were all individual databases. And like I said they’re more repository than databases because we couldn’t get the data out without somebody manually going in and pulling that data out of there. The pink ovals were done via email and paper. The green ovals are new leveraged apps that we built. The ones with the red circles around them are the what we use to identify supplier risk.

We have supplier insight. supplier insight is the application that houses all supplier data. And through that we pull in information from our supply chain assessments. through the process findings where that’s the app that houses the assess the findings that we had during the assessment, the supplier research analysis inputs are linked into supplier insight. And they all come down to the Goddard integrated risk management program which we call Jerome. So these five applications work together to identify our supplier risk. And what’s really exciting now is that NASA is getting ready to build a supplier insights central across the agency using meta as its foundation. But we have a policy with meta and that is the data is only entered once and then that can be shared between all applications. Rather you put the data in through projects or you put the data in through product services. This data is shared with all of the 28 apps that we currently have. This application contains all information that meta manages to support the Goddard project. And this link, although I’m not going through all of it, but this picture shows you how they all linked together by pulling the project related data from a number of other applications, such as product services, smh cm, SME, risk management, watch list, meta alerts and supplier insights. The projects are able to have input have received input from all of these applications and give input where they need to support the alert process which over here submit an alert. Like I said, in the past, projects weren’t linked together. So they did not know who else was using their suppliers. Here, if they see a risk they have with the supplier. Or if they’ve got a concern with a supplier, they can shoot that meta alert out to every project, that if that choosing that supplier, and therefore share how not only that there was an issue, but how they resolve that issue, so that other projects can learn from each other. How what how best to address an issue and that there is an issue. Another thing that we do is a distribution of suppliers by project this we call these are donut charts. On this chart, you can see our projects that we have identified. You also can tell by their bandwidth, the width of the segment that they’ve identified, how many suppliers they have. And we feel that the more suppliers you have the higher risk you have. Because you’re your supply chain is more complex. So the segment sizes for each project is determined by the number of unique suppliers recorded in meta for that project. For example, jpss right here. They have the largest number of identified unique suppliers, with James Webb Space Telescope coming in second. And therefore we pay a little more attention to those of bigger projects and they have more suppliers. This by Jane is more complicated. Okay, the next thing we look at is the larger the supplier is, the more that they’re supplying, the larger their risk. Normally there isn’t, there is a caveat to that. We can’t have a supplier, this developing new technology, or it’s a sole source supplier for a very critical piece, their risk would be higher. And that’s something we also have taken effect. But here we’re comparing two projects through Roman Space Telescope, which used to be called w First, if you’re familiar with the NASA missions, and the Lucy l RAF project, you can tell first of all red means the it’s an unknown supplier, there have been no suppliers identified or chosen yet, or we just don’t have them in our system. Now there’s a difference in the age of these projects.

The room space telescope is a newer project. So therefore we would expect it to have a larger red area are more unknown suppliers because they’re just starting out supplying them or identifying them. So that’s something that we have to work with. Also, you can look over here and see. Okay, here’s a supplier that’s got a larger segment than any others. So the Southwest Research Institute might be something we need to keep a little bigger eye on. But we can always drill down through these donut charts to find out exactly what they’re supplying where the critical hardware is. these graphs help identify the suppliers with the highest risk due to the number of line items they’re supplying. The segment size for each supplier is determined by the number of line items for which the supplier is contractually responsible. And like I said, the red segments label the unknown suppliers are represented by the configuration line items for which the supplier is not yet known, or the contract is not been issued. We have any questions on any of these charts. I believe scope is going to set up a way that you can ask me those questions. I’ll be more than glad to try to answer them. That is the end of my presentation. And this is the Saying that Robert Goddard made during his lifetime, which I love, because if you think about it, it’s very, very true. It is difficult to say what is impossible. For the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow. So as you go for thinking about how you can change your company, to make it better to give it a higher mission success, realize nothing’s really impossible. If you really don’t put your mind to it, you can find a way to improve your supply chain, risk management, you need to get your teams working together. Thank you very much for joining me here today and be blessed. Bye

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