Few mass-produced products are as complex as a car. Designing and manufacturing a new car takes the effort of hundreds of people, dozens of processes and a multitude of data. Getting all participants to use the same technology platform to maintain the information about their work can go a long way in improving collaboration, productivity and efficiency. It’s also an ambitious undertaking.
Yet that’s exactly what the PSA Group aspires to do. For the last two years this European car company has been putting in place a new Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) application. When it’s done, the new IT system will drive change throughout the organization to improve processes from design through manufacturing.
The organization faced the same challenges that beset other global manufacturers: Information was compartmentalized; everybody used their own preferred tools; and the software portfolio was “bloated,” full of applications that were duplicative or under-used. As a result, information resided in siloes, making decision-making overly time-consuming.
However, in the automotive segment, those problems are intensified because of the sheer pace and growing complexity of building innovative cars, which are packed with all kinds of new technology.
By adopting PLM the company aims to embrace a single approach and tool for managing the work of designing, developing and validating all components used in its manufacture of new vehicles.
In 2011, the PSA Group initiated an internal transformation project, intended to address PLM across global operations. The primary goals of this project are to accelerate performance gains in its extensive research and development efforts and improve collaboration with its suppliers and alliances. The basic idea of PLM is to have everybody work in the same software program to enable the data they generate (specifications, designs, feedback, etc.) to be accessible and shareable by users. The PLM program would maintain information integrity and become the “single source of truth.”
The technology solution the group chose as the transformation project’s platform was Dassault Systemes’ Enovia. Enovia provides functionality in several areas: Product planning and program management; Product development; Quality and compliance; Intellectual property protection; Supplier management; Customer requirement management.
The software allows everyone on the project to use specific functionality to do their work, based on their access rights and responsibilities. Then that data can be consolidated for reporting purposes.
The MI-GSO Solution
Preparing for Change
The PSA Group was already using other Dassault programs, such as CATiA, for its product design work, which would integrate with Enovia. But the company also recognized that their transformation project would require big changes in the processes used across the board in all of the departments involved in product development.
For that reason in 2014 it brought in MI-GSO to help with change management for its pilot projects, where it would test out the new software before rolling it out more fully. Eventually, the role of MI-GSO grew to encompass other phases of the project: operational deployment, validation and specification.
The transformation project would employ two important elements. The first was an engineering handbook that would standardize all design processes and provide a global and structured vision for designing and managing activities and would cover all product lifecycle stages. In other words, the handbook would contain all of the processes used to do the work.
The second element was the use of the “V-cycle.” Whereas the PLM is the tool to be used, the V-cycle is an approach that defines how new products would be developed, so-named because of the shape the activities followed.
The V-cycle starts with collection of stakeholder requirements, moves through specification of technical requirements and so on, all the way through system verification and validation.
Getting employees to adopt these new elements was the initial focus for the MI-GSO team. It’s a human tendency to resist change, but the PSA Group also wanted to make sure employees really understood why the change was important, how it would affect them, and to what extent they needed to get involved in the pilot efforts.
MI-GSO set up a five-stage strategy to encourage people to shift from skepticism to enthusiasm
Stage 1: Building a change plan, including getting management support.
Stage 2: Anticipating opposition. The MI-GSO team identified potential fans and foes, levers and restraints, and the scope and scale of the change.
Stage 3: Giving meaning. Stakeholders needed to be on board to understand why the change was crucial and what their individual roles would be. A participatory approach and as much communication as possible has been set up.
Stage 4: Helping bring people into the new technology. MI-GSO organized training to make sure people had access to all of the support mechanisms that would help them get up to speed with Enovia. The team also promoted collaboration among users from different company areas to help them get a feel for what that was like and how it could help them in their own jobs.
Stage 5: Promoting autonomy: MI-GSO provided documentation and other forms of support to users and continued organizing training workshops. They also acted as liaisons between users and the development team in charge of preparing Enovia for use by PSA, to let them know about bugs, functionality that didn’t work the way it needed to and anything else that would help users adopt the new software.
Managing the Project
Operational deployment consists of two broad activities:
1) Verification and validation of the PLM tools to make sure they work as expected;
and 2) Planning and monitoring of the deployment of the pilot projects specifically within the powertrain division.
As the MI-GSO team began monitoring the deployment project, they found that the schedule wasn’t being adhered to for delivery of new functionality within the PLM. Or it arrived missing aspects that were part of the specifications. As project managers, the team knew there had to be a better way.
The PSA Group has been a long-time user of Planisware project portfolio management (PPM) software, a high-end application for managing schedules and resources for major product development. So MI-GSO began using that to stay on top of variances in the schedule for the pilot project. They also built a “quality” grid and performance dashboard that enables us to oversee the quality of the PLM deliverables as they’re developed.
The use of those tools provides the group’s decision-makers with visibility into project status and gives them the information they need for making go/no-go decisions. They also give executives an overall feel for the progress and level of risk on a given design project. For example, one dashboard component communicates the “mass” or weight of a given major component. As additional “virtual” parts are added to the design of the powertrain, that weight goes up, a change reflected in the dashboard. While a piston indicator may be red today, several months from now, as the gearbox is more fully developed, it will be green; they can understand that by doing a drilldown on the data through the dashboard.
Driving Company Value
The PLM project isn’t over, and the change will continue for several years. But even now this multi-million Euro investment is already showing value to the company. With every user brought into the PLM fold, collaboration is steadily improving; decision-making is becoming stronger; and R&D is truly accelerating the gains it can make in its work related to car design. On the pilot projects, the quality, cost and delay (QCD) impacts of design changes are always automatically updated with the latest information. For example, when there is a modification in a technical solution, the weight of the new component is calculated in the PLM and the “Weight Pilot” can access the information and share it with customers without having to update a lot of different databases.
MI-GSO consultants have brought expertise in project management, knowledge of the automotive industry, talent in managing issues more effectively, and an ability to listen to stakeholders and come up with approaches for addressing their concerns while still keeping the project moving forward.
About the PSA Group - Key Facts 3 brands: Peugeot, Citroën and DS 2nd European vehicle manufacturer 2015 sales: +2.9 million vehicles worldwide 2015 revenue: €54.7bn Employees: +184,100 worldwide www.psa-peugeot-citroen.com
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