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Responding to process variations in the automotive aftermarket

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 09:00
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It is actually possible, though, for the wholesalers and retailers that comprise the automotive aftermarket to achieve the benefits of standardized processes across their entire organization, while simultaneously allowing individual operations to develop and control process variations as necessary. To succeed, however, all operations within the organization must agree on the standard processes that will form a platform against which all local process variations should be considered. Local process variants can then be established off of this standard process base, with any changes applied by variant experts highlighted and visible against the core process.

Beyond this platform, retailers or wholesalers must have the ability to compare and report on all of the process variations that exist for each standard process. Doing so allows for transparency across the entire organization, with any activities that have been added, removed, or changed visible when compared to the standard process.

When navigating to processes, business teams should be able to easily select the process variant they seek from a list or be routed automatically to their process variant if they have a “default” location, product team or business unit. This will serve to improve process relevancy and, perhaps more importantly, adherence.

Organizations must also establish a global reporting capability. Doing so will allow process champions to see the list of variations that exist for each process. Local variant owners, in turn, should be notified of any changes applied to the standard processes by the global process owners, enabling them to merge those changes into each process variant or to amend them as necessary.

Finally, process costing and timeframe tracking should be established so that the difference in cost and time between process variations and the standard processes can be calculated and measured. This will enable organizations to make informed decisions about whether to keep or eliminate each process variation.

All of these capabilities will enable automotive aftermarket companies to understand the extent of the process variations they are managing, and to challenge, control and report on them. And because process variations will exist in an environment over which the business teams actually have clarity and control, they will feel empowered to be more agile, with the flexibility to customize or eliminate activities as necessary.

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