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The development and use of strategic business performance improvement frameworks for rapid prototyping and tooling : executive summary

By Ian Halliday


Increasing global competition within industry has forced businesses to respond by\ud reducing costs and product development lead times in order to survive. In the\ud automotive industry, these strategic responses include the specific exploitation of new\ud technologies and mergers with other companies to gain economies of scale.\ud BMW AG purchased Rover Group in 1994 but it wasn't until 1998 that competitive\ud pressure led to the completion of the merger through the creation of a single "Group\ud Function" structure within BMW Group. The BMW Board stated high-level\ud objectives for the process but provided no mechanism to convert them into reality.\ud Similarly, the BMW Group Board initiated a business process "Re-engineering"\ud programme in 1997/8 and stated cost, time and other objectives that would have to be\ud met. The technical and process changes that would help to achieve the business\ud improvements were being largely driven from the bottom of the organisation but\ud there were no frameworks available to guide strategic technology introduction.\ud The principal innovations generated during the course of this research are\ud frameworks for:\ud • Maximising the business benefits from the creation of 'Group Functions'\ud • Internal strategy creation for technology-based business sub-units\ud These two new frameworks have for the first time provided management and staff\ud with the means to develop meaningful strategies and operational action plans from\ud the corporate strategic objectives. The economic and business literature concentrates\ud mainly on whole business strategy and merger activity, neglecting the need for\ud guidance at the sub-corporate level. Although corporate strategy can provide the\ud overall direction of a company, it is the managers that have to drive strategic change\ud within the business.\ud The frameworks were developed by the author based on an in-depth review of the\ud literature and the specific context relating to Rapid Prototyping & Tooling (RP&T)\ud within BMW. The frameworks were validated within the business situation and\ud further enhanced where appropriate.\ud The Group Function framework fills the process gap between the high-level\ud objectives and the need for operational action plans. It provides a straightforward and\ud easy to communicate structure to the process of optimising duplicated business subunits.\ud Use of the framework led to the retention of both RP&T teams and the\ud initiation of beneficial synergistic activities. The framework should be applicable to\ud other similar groups in similar circumstances.\ud The author developed a new strategy creation framework that for the first time\ud combines a range of strategy development approaches from within the literature into\ud a practical framework for sub-corporate strategy development. The framework was\ud matched to the specific context of the RP&T case but could be used in other similar\ud circumstances. The framework was used to successfully develop a new strategy for\ud RP&T in BMW Group and includes new approaches developed by the author that\ud reduce the impact of environmental change and uncertainty. The framework has been\ud described in a stand alone form that can easily be more widely exploited

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