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The Ford 2000 Plan - Essay Example

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The Ford 2000 Plan" was intended to emphasize product design by using a global standard business plan, which included integrating its IT so that all elements of the business would have the same tools at their disposal. Prior to that, Ford Motors had no centralized IT…
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Download file to see previous pages For the IT department, it meant sweeping changes. Standardizing software throughout the global business would most certainly improve communication abilities. Everyone would be using the same tools and thus, speaking the same language, at least in computer terms. I could see that updating and maintenance of such a system from a centralized IT command would surely cut costs in the long run. Emphasis would be shifted from developing specialized software to using software largely developed by other companies that were actually in the software business. Ford would concentrate on developing vehicles, not software. I thought it was a smart plan.
Yet, from news reports, now 6 years later, I knew The Plan had failed. Ford continued to lose money. Massive layoffs and plant closings were in store (Durbin 1). I did not know what went wrong. Then I located 2002 interview with James Buczkowski, Director of IT for Manufacturing and Supply Chain at Ford (Ricciuti).
Buczkowski makes it clear, as any department head would, that he would like more money directed toward his operations. That being said, he accepts the fact that he is being asked to "do more with less" and operate with a "back to basics" mentality (Ricciuti Para. 1). That means cutting back on things like web site design and emphasizing modalities that help design and build better vehicles in a more cost-efficient manner. He plans to invest in more CAD and CAM. He is to concentrate on projects that will directly increase the company's bottom line, either through more efficient manufacturing or through decreased design/build costs.
The director points out another area of concern: lack of IT skills within the company. With the advent of The Ford 2000 Plan, many IT functions were outsourced. This caused a decline in the IT skill-levels available from employees. "We're trying to rebuild some of those skills where we were maybe a little too leveraged on outside (sources). We need much more skill and competency internally" (Quest. 6).
As any politically correct corporate officer would, Buczkowski chooses to focus on the future, rather than publicly analyze shortcomings of the past. It is clear, however, that money was spent on technologies that did not add to the profitability of the company, like web site design, and that by outsourcing software design, in-house capabilities were lost. He sees integration of various software applications to be a continuing challenge. "As more applications integrate, you have an environment that is more challenging to manage" (Quest. 16). Buczkowski wants to see a modular approach so that applications may be plugged into the system and later unplugged, replaced as needed with newer, better application modules.
In summary, I think The Ford 2000 Plan went wrong in the following ways. First, standardization and integration of "off-the-shelf" software was a bust. It did not provide the flexibility needed to design unique, quality products. It was an over-simplification of a complex need. Second, in its attempt to simplify, it lost the skills needed to change course when the simplification did not work.
As this article relates to Systems Thinking and the examination of complexity, I see IT as a provider of tools. The best tools in the world are not good enough if they are so complex that no one knows how to use them or communicate the fruits of their labor to the rest of the company. If the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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