Auto industry shifts to collaborative product development

RP news wires, Noria Corporation

A new study from the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) points out that automakers are developing the next generation of innovative car designs by moving in three primary directions: collaborating in small, nimble groups for faster communication; using a variety of information channels (such as direct live conversations between designers and consumers on the Internet); and bringing forth leaders who demonstrate passion for their product and customer awareness.


For the types of collaborative work defined in the study, titled "Key Factors that Enable Product Development: An Investigation of Creating 'Great' Products," automakers are turning to collaborative product development (CPD) techniques made possible by Microsoft solutions. The auto industry is adopting these solutions as key tools for remaining profitable and innovative leaders in their marketplace.


OEMs recently adopted CPD methodology to resolve issues affecting their ability to collaborate effectively:

- When PSA Peugeot Citroen wanted to find a better way to manage 15 vehicle programs (involving more than 2,000 projects) in its research and development department, it worked with Microsoft Corp. partners to implement a Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management solution. Now, PSA engineers easily share information among and within projects to get to market faster.


- Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. employees struggled with rising volumes of e-mail and unreliable remote e-mail access. After Nissan upgraded to Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 and the Windows XP Professional operating system, along with Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access and Exchange Server 2003, the entire enterprise gained the ability to send and receive e-mail via the Web from virtually anywhere in the world. By improving global collaboration and empowering their workforce to maximize productivity, Nissan projects that it will save at least $135 million over the next few years.


- Nissan also is employing Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management for a Design Change Collaborative Management platform in Spain. This tool vastly improves efficiencies by enabling planning, coordinating and monitoring of the whole complex process of engineering changes introduced in Nissan vehicles before they leave the factory.


"The auto industry is competing globally against an ever-increasing wave of nameplates," said Patty Dilger, national sales director for the U.S. Manufacturing Industries at Microsoft. "If an OEM expects to succeed, it must stand out with innovative cars developed through globally collaborative means that pull the consumer into the design process. By employing easy-to-use Microsoft solutions – from shared Web sites designed for collaboration to project-management tools and a whole range of Web-based methods for direct communication – the auto industry is deploying new ways to work together."

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