10 tips for SC21 sustainability

SC21 (21st Century Supply Chains) is the single, coordinated industrial change programme developed by and for the UK aviation, space and defence industry. SC21 is probably the most important development programme that suppliers in these sectors have ever been asked to participate in.

SC21 simply demands an organization’s commitment to undertake the prescribed diagnostics and quantitatively identify areas for improvement before creating a ‘CSIP’ (continuous sustainable improvement plan) which lists prioritised activities to boost performance and effectiveness.


Ten SC21 hot tips!

The following 10 tips have emerged as a result of TEC Transnational’s engagement with over 100 companies - over thirty have now attained and retained either Silver or Bronze SC21 Recognition Awards.


1. Quantitatively define "performance"

You must be specific – start with Quality and Delivery KPIs (they rank highest for customer satisfaction). Define your goals (where you eventually want to be) and your targets (where you want to be in, say, 3-months’ time). Your targets must meet the (minimum) demands of your key customers - focus on the Q and D levels required for SC21 Bronze/Silver/Gold recognition awards to demonstrate that you are benchmarking against industry standards.

2. Monitor your actual performance

Implement and maintain a process to monitor your performance Q and D KPIs. By 'monitor' we mean that actual performance figure must be determined and recorded on a regular and routine basis (e.g. monthly) and that the current year-to-date figures will also be calculated.

3. Customer confirmation of your performance

It follows that these performance figures must be confirmed with your key customers (SC21 Business Group members) and any differences investigated and resolved. These verified figures will then be used to compare with the currently company set targets and the SC21 award criteria.

4. Actively manage performance

Whenever ‘monitoring’ shows that the current month’s figures do not meet or exceed the defined targets actions must be instigated to address these shortcomings. Immediate containment actions should be triggered to resolve the specific customer quality/delivery problems and corrective actions instigated to identify root causes, introduce countermeasures, check that these actually work, and embed any changes to processes in your quality management system. Remember that your AS9100 Certification Body will be auditing how you handle customer satisfaction and that they will be demanding to see ‘objective evidence’. Remember that the real proof that the countermeasures have worked will be the next set of (improved) KPI figures!

5. Have an implementation plan (CSIP)

At the core of the SC21 initiative is the CSIP (continuous sustainable improvement plan). The CSIP list the individual improvement activities identified and prioritised by a company. Any ‘mission drift’ in the crucial Q and D KPIs needs to be addressed with a highly focused improvement activity charter. Also progressing towards the next level of SC21 Recognition Award will demand a specific charter. Remember that improvements in Q and D KPIs won’t just happen - consequently your CSIP must contain improvement activity charters focused on the deployment of Man-Ex, Bus-Ex and Rel-Ex (BS 11000) best-practices.

6. Continually improve your value stream

Many organizations use VSM (value stream mapping) to identify and then optimise the processes associated with creating products or services from beginning to end - the focus being on the identification of ‘value adding’ and ‘non-value adding’ activities. This was never intended to be a ‘one-off’ exercise and the key processes must themselves be monitored and actively managed (these are the ‘PEARs’ now a standard part of AS9100 certification audits). These process-level KPIs are the leading results that will determine the lagging results – i.e. the desired Q and D KPIs. A process must be in place to ensure that relevant process-level KPIs are also in place and that they are actively managed. Setting appropriate process-level targets and monitoring performance at the process-level will ensure that the company’s Q and D KPIs are always met or exceeded.

7. Process-level KPI’s

Once the VSM exercise has been undertaken you will be able to identify the processes that can directly affect Q and D performance. A procedure must be in place to ensure that that process-level KPIs are defined and that they are actively managed. Setting appropriate process-level targets and monitoring performance at the process-level will ensure that the company’s Q & D KPI’s are always met or exceeded!

8. Benchmarking your journey

At the heart of the Business Excellence initiative is benchmarking which can take on many forms –

  • Maintaining a relevant suite of ‘diagnostics scores’ both measure your progress and benchmarks your position at a high level in the industry
  • Formal benchmarking activity of performance and (financial and process) provide a useful indicator of progress
  • Best practice visits act as a catalyst for visual confirmation of the journey ahead

9. SC21 Diagnostics

Maintaining a relevant suite of SC21 Diagnostics scores is essential for re-affirming your achievements to date, recognitions to active participants and alignment of your future direction, deployed correctly the SC21 Diagnostics can provide and independent health check of your business

10. SC21 Exposition submission

At the heart of the SC21 award process is the company’s exposition, this is the perfect document to present to customer, suppliers and employees, it should show case the company’s current position and future direction, used correctly this is an excellent PR document.


SC21 is the industry accepted benchmark for excellence in optimising supply chains through accelerating competitiveness in the aerospace and defence sectors. SC21 is a ‘differentiator’ for suppliers in the global aerospace and defence markets and provides the company with recognition from the industry.

Engaging with SC21 will measurably boost business performance and enhance customer relationships – follow these 10 tips to bolster your efforts to achieve continual sustainable improvement.

SC21 (21st Century Supply Chains) is an industry-led campaign aimed at transforming the way the UK does business. Not only does it accelerate competitiveness but it acts to cement those vital relationships between customer and supplier essential for hassle-free business.

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