User stories from the knowledge front
Ford Motor Company has been in the news a lot lately, primarily regarding its replacement of the Firestone tires that came as original equipment on some Ford Explorers. Left out of the news, though, is information about the behind-the-scenes business process that Ford uses to communicate with its dealers about warranty issues, technical bulletins and recall notices.
Ford realized a couple of years ago that it needed to improve message generation and distribution to dealers. An antiquated paper-intensive routine involving faxes, inter-office mail, courier and sticky notes was procedure-based, not process- or people-based. That created a delay in communicating what are called On Line Automotive Service Information System (OASIS) messages to more than 5,000 dealers.
The solution Ford implemented to improve its communications with dealers, as well as customers, involves collaborative commerce software from Action Technologies (actiontech.com). Known as the Technical Web Authoring System (TWAS), the new system is said to support collaboration among departments. Engineers write OASIS messages, and the messages are routed to the technical communications support team for editing and review. After the messages are edited, they are routed for approval and sign-off by the appropriate departments. While the pilot phase involved a handful of process initiators and process participants, the number has grown to more than 170 initiators and many participants.
According to Action Technologies, the system has resulted in the following business benefits:
- The overall time to write, edit and approve messages decreased by 45%.;
- The OASIS portion of the Technical Web Authoring System resulted in an annual savings of $1.5 million.;
- Messages take an average of eight days to complete, as opposed to 14.5 days before implementation of the system.;
- Collaboration among departments involved in approvals (engineering, legal and safety) is enhanced. ;
- Communal business practices among geographically diverse teams in Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific are encouraged.;
- The system instantaneously provides status on any request.;
- Productivity increased because the process cycle time decreased.;