Driving Performance with Automotive Project Management Services

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MI-GSO | PCUBED’s roots come from the automotive industry, beginning in 1991 with Renault in France and Ford Motor Company in the United States. We have worked with the world’s largest organizations, helping them successfully innovate and deliver their most complex and critical programs.

Over those 30 years, we have helped our clients:

  • Launch countless vehicle programs.
  • Support the move to hybrid powertrains and in-vehicle software.
  • Shrink the automotive product development lifecycle by 30%.
  • Support numerous systems implementations, mergers, demergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures.

While it’s been a wild and exciting ride, we are even more excited about the future.

Automotive’s Future is ‘CASE’ Sensitive

There has been a constant pressure to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and do more with less. That hasn’t changed in the last 30 years. Businesses need to shorten product life-cycles, optimize resources, and adhere to tighter and tighter regulations. They also need to create and promote sustainability, be more accountable and transparent, and support societal causes; all the while answering to market changes and customers’ demands.

Four of the most demanding market forces brought about by changing customer habits are ‘CASE’ sensitive.  The four themes defining the future of the auto industry are Connectivity, Autonomous Vehicles, Shared Mobility, and Electrification.

As these themes become more relevant and necessary for vehicle production, we see them called out as strategic drivers for each of the major automotive companies.

In January 2021, GM announced its path to an all electric future, inviting “EVeryone In” to their vision of the future.  GM will be investing more than $27 billion in electric vehicle (EV) and autonomous vehicle (AV) development towards its goal of being all electric by 2035.

Ford, echoing the commitment, announced that they will be all electric in Europe by 2030. They are investing nearly $29 billion in EV (Electric Vehicle) and AV (Autonomous Vehicle) development.

Tesla, already crowned the electric vehicle leader, announced that they will have Full Self Driving level 5 autonomous vehicles by the end of 2021.

Renault unveiled their “Renaulution » plan highlighting their strategy to move from a focus on volume to a focus on efficiency, speed, and customer value. Going further, Group CEO Luca de Meo signaled a move from “a car company working with tech to a tech company working with cars”, repositioning Renault not only as a tech company but an energy company as well.

Continental, a global Tier 1 automotive supplier, has already rebranded itself as a technology company. The assisted and autonomous leader recently invested heavily in the startup Recogni furthering the development of chips for their high-performance vehicle computers.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Shifting Lanes

This is not the first signal that industry lanes are blurring. Today, the focus on the automobile is shifting towards ‘mobility’ where vehicle transportation is not limited to the car, and drivers are not focused solely on the road. For example, automotive and aerospace are converging as air taxis take mobility to the sky. 

We also see tech companies taking part in the race for autonomous and electric vehicle advancements. Google is in the autonomous vehicle game with Waymo, releasing self driving taxis in Phoenix. Rumour also has it that Apple will release an autonomous vehicle in 2024, partnering with Hyundai-Kia and LG Electronics. Who is going to win the race in Autonomy or Electrification is anyone’s bet.

While the ‘CASE’ destination may be clear, how to get there is not. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) still need help with delivery. Many of their existing projects and programs are poorly coordinated and inefficiently executed.

Key challenges include:

  • Getting new and innovative ideas to market.
  • Reducing product development times.
  • Improving agility.
  • Managing vehicle complexity and dependencies.
  • Reducing costs and improving operational efficiency.

In order for our clients to live up to these requirements, they must be able to connect their strategy to execution – to drive performance while keeping an eye on the competition.

Intersection with people and vehicles

Interviews with our Consultants

“You could characterize [the future of the automotive industry]  by significant change, more than the industry has seen in a while”, said Simon Endstone, Automotive Associate with MI-GSO | PCUBED.  

“I used to work for an OEM with responsibility for vehicle connected services.  From a program management perspective vehicle development was quite stable – there had been no major upset to the process and the timing of those programs for some time.  Increasing levels of vehicle connectivity and services that were being offered prompted a dramatic change.   Traditional vehicle development timing requires that certain things were fixed early on – sometimes nearly 3 years before launch.  Well, with connected services you don’t have visibility 3 years out.  The software side evolves so rapidly, that to match its pace of change with electrical hardware development was challenging.  You could easily find yourself in a situation where the processing required to run the latest desired apps and features in the vehicle was much higher than what the hardware components were originally designed to deliver. 

When you have an electrified vehicle that is autonomous, you basically have a computer on wheels instead of a car. That is a change in mindset. That’s where the benefit of a project management partner can come in. We at MI-GSO | PCUBED work with our clients to  introduce more Agile ways of working, dissociating the software development from the hardware, to increase organizational speed and flexibility.”

Car Sharing vehicle driving on road

“I agree that there are a few things changing”, says Ingo Franke, head of MI-GSO | PCUBED Germany.  “I would call myself a petrol-head.  I was totally in love with cars in the past, you know with a gas engine.  I have now downsized and am driving a full electric vehicle. You just plug it in the outlet at home and the next morning it is fully charged. It has the same acceleration, the same look and feel of the design. The difference is all in the amenities and electrical features.

Basically, it’s a PC with wheels and a steering column. This takes an entirely different view on how to build the car. Now you start with the software and build the car around it. The whole product development life cycle changes.  This is one of the key areas that we are helping our clients in.

We are currently helping a global OEM to modify their product development methodology, looking not only at the logic within the schedules but their approach to systems engineering – to help reduce the overall development time and improve engineering efficiency. The goal is to develop hardware at the speed of software. »

The Challenge

MI-GSO | PCUBED was brought in to help a Global Automotive Manufacturer manage an Agile PMO, responsible for managing their digital transformation.  To stay competitive the client needed a faster and more cost effective approach to their product development processes used by more than 25,000 employees.

The Solution

If the lifecycle was to become more agile, the team should as well. The team quickly mobilized and established the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as the methodology to manage the incremental development, rollout and adoption of key features and enablers by the vehicle program teams.  Segmenting the enablers into Agile Release Trains allowed the times to time delivery to match the various program timings.  The team then developed a schedule to rollout training just in time across the organization.

The MI-GSO | PCUBED PMO supported the client with Agile training, Coaches and Scrum Masters, and Agile Release Train Engineers on their  transformation to new ways of working.  Additionally the PMO developed several Digital Dashboards providing enhanced visibility around key program metrics.

The Benefits

The Agile PMO in conjunction with the Scaled Agile methodology set the basis for the team to deliver incrementally with quality, as well as improved adaptability to change.  The agile mindset was a key enabler to deliver faster and more cost effective vehicle programs to come.

« Looking beyond internal development, OEMs increasingly need to think of how to project manage outside of the company.  Using the same example in electric vehicles, you used to only have to pay for gas.  You now need to think of electrical charging infrastructure, how one accesses, pays for that – either in their phone, via their car, via a subscription service.  You need to integrate with partners that have nothing to do with building a car – public sector, real estate, IT companies, engineering companies.  

To reduce the burden of managing all this complexity, organizations need to be able to turn to highly specialized and qualified partners who can supplement their project management capability. Again that is an area where we are coming in to help.  Our expertise in PMO setup and project controls helped the client to mobilize and ultimately succeed in their completely greenfield environment.« 

“There are so many dependencies now to manage between the OEM and their suppliers.”, says Adel Khalil – Business Manager Paris.  “The complexity has increased exponentially.  It is very hard to do this without an army of engineers or consultants.  Our teams are continually looking at ways to streamline and increase efficiency.  With a consistent set of lean, streamlined processes, all teams can work together in a coordinated fashion.  This has become even more important working with remote and hybrid teams.  

Second, it is important to have clear and measurable key performance indicators or KPIs. Our teams regularly invest time in digitization or dashboard development, as well as the automation of these dashboards across our PMOs – providing visible controls to the client as well as moving away from manual data entry to data analysis and prediction.  We are always looking for ways to deliver more value.”

“All of those challenges in implementing Connectivity, Autonomous Vehicles, Mobility, and Electrification – they turn into strategic projects which turn into features and enablers that our clients have to execute” says Dermot Brannock, General Manager MI-GSO | PCUBED USA.

“While the vision of an autonomous or electrified future is key, OEMs are still regulated companies who have to deliver on time and on quality. They still have to think about their key stakeholders, whether shareholders, or customers, or both. They also have to think about budget. 

Some companies have set targets to reduce costs by 40%, reduce development lead times by 25%, and to become fully Agile. Achieving these goals is what we help them do. We take control of the project management side, delivering performance amongst their teams so they can focus on engineering and their business.”

Key Recommendations to Gain Control of Automotive’s New Future

Establish a Performance Management Office

A Performance Management Office is a PMO that is focused on driving value or critical outcomes for an organization.
As we highlighted in our what is a PMO guide, it is imperative that the PMO be aligned to the strategic objectives of
the organization.

Your Performance Management Office will then use those defined strategic drivers, such as reducing development lead times by 25%, to lead teams forward. While many new initiatives may seem necessary they may not be aligned to strategy. It’s important for the PMO to stay laser-focused on the intended outcome – asking for any new project “Will it help us achieve our goal? or Will it distract us from our vision?”.

Define streamlined repeatable processes

Second – there is a war on talent within the automotive industry. Highly skilled resources are being wooed
away to new startups and technology companies.

To compound, many employees are still working remotely, meaning knowledge around the ways of getting work done is not as easily transferred. Today you don’t just walk over to someone’s desk for an informal, “Hey can you show me…” or “Do you know who…”.

To get work done and have your teams moving as efficiently as possible, it is important to detail out the key processes end to end and define who is doing what. Then using techniques like Lean Innovation, organizations can add value by reducing redundant work and automating processes, resulting in even faster delivery.

Establish visible controls

Once everyone is moving in the right direction and working on the right tasks, it’s important to establish visible controls.
Measured key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to assess early on if you are on track to meet your goals.

This is accomplished through the help of digital dashboards, where you have access to the right information at the right time to make critical decisions.

Establish regular governance

With all this change in the automotive industry, there is one thing we can all count on – more change. Whether it is new market entrants or issues with supply – it’s important to establish regular checkpoints where you can assess the performance of your projects or programs, not only against their KPIs, but rolling them up against the strategic objectives of the organization.

It’s here where a Performance Management Office can help you to realign, pivot, and adapt to ensure your projects and programs are both highly coordinated and efficiently executed – achieving the high-level outcomes you need to compete.

Two women working in front of laptop speaking with hands

Examples of our Work:

The Challenge

Our client, a leading ride sharing platform, needed to implement a tailored automotive development lifecycle solution. The methodology needed to align with both their fast-paced organization’s needs and culture and the more traditional culture of their suppliers.

The Solution

The MI-GSO | PCUBED team quickly assessed the current process landscape to determine a roadmap for adjusting their existing ad hoc PM delivery methodology to operate in a highly Adaptive mode. They needed to get the organization, which was operating at a fast pace, all moving in the same direction.

The team defined more flexible processes for this highly responsive organization. Carefully selecting the necessary Lean PMO building blocks – program planning, bill of material management, supplier selection, vehicle test specification management, and applying Agile Project Management principles towards delivery management, enabled the client to both act faster and deliver more efficiently.

The Benefits

The client could recover and achieve their initial design release milestone with 100% on time delivery. They reduced prototype vehicle needs by 90% by applying Lean Project Management practices fit for their “startup” environment.

The Challenge

Our client, an international joint venture of prominent OEMs set out to increase the adoption of electromobility across Europe by building a network of reliable high powered charging stations.

As a start-up in mobility services and a collaboration of several organizations, the client faced integrating partners with different cultures and business backgrounds while establishing a program management structure from scratch. They also needed to define
the program governance with reporting cycles and escalation
pathways, all with minimal ramp-up time.

The Solution

MI-GSO | PCUBED engaged a team of project managers to establish program structures in a high tech start-up environment. We provided access to skilled resources as “incubators”, supplied templates and know-how for program and PMO establishment, and worked with the client to innovate and drive optimal team performance.

The Benefits

We successfully built up the client program organization from ground zero, including governance, roles, program controls, risk management, and reporting. Our team defined and managed the interface between the various joint venture partners, each with different cultures and operating systems. Through our solution framework, the client was able to successfully kick off their charging station development program.

Conclusion

With over 30 years of experience in the auto industry and as experts in project, program, and portfolio management, MI-GSO | PCUBED has successfully rolled out programs for the world’s most competitive automotive companies.

Our teams of specialized consultants have delivered on a massive range of engagements – from local projects to global organizational programs and across the entire spectrum of project management, including PM delivery, agile transformation, business process improvement, and change management.

As the leading global project management consultancy, we focus on increasing business agility, lean innovation, and driving digitization to bring about change and speed, saving our clients both time and money.

Interested in speaking to one of our Automotive specialists? Find out how our experience in managing complexity can help you gain a competitive advantage while also growing your team’s internal capabilities.

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