Aerospace and defense industry program managers need to move beyond the traditional fundamentals of delivering a product to become more effective at meeting a changing environment with tougher demands, according to an analysis released yesterday by a business consulting firm.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) said its study based on interviews with more than two dozen executives from 23 of the world’s leading companies in the sector showed program management is shifting past the norm of creating schedules, tracking progress and pressuring suppliers for improved performance.

“The report identifies five key areas for program managers to focus on success: getting systems integration right; solidifying partnerships and joint ventures; agility and speed in business processes; being world citizens in relationship management; and applying a collaborative approach to supply chain management,” PwC said.

The report said the aerospace and defense sectors are facing a convergence of pressure to increasingly innovate while bringing costs down, a distinction from the previous practice wherein one or the other was acceptable to customer needs. The report echoed a similar message from the U.S. Department of Defense recently as it faces reduced budgets.

“In the past, companies would specialize in one area such as solutions leadership, operational excellence or customer intimacy,” PwC said. “But today’s environment means that they, and their program managers, need to be top of their game in all three and deliver innovation and affordability in tandem.”

Neil Hampson, PwC’s top analyst for global aerospace and defense, said companies need to accept a new mindset in which “partnership, internationalism, inclusivity and innovation rank as highly as ‘getting it out the door’ approach. “

“We are in an era of fierce international competition,” he added. “The winners will need to demonstrate they can use innovation as a key competitive advantage as well as anticipate, understand and match customers’ needs.”

The PwC survey of the 28 executives from companies in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States showed that 64 percent believed innovation would be crucial to gaining a competitive edge, along with delivering programs that were more integrated with customer needs, markets and supply chains.