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Volkswagen gives IT staff bigger say in ERP system

John-Paul Kamath

Volkswagen aims to boost car production worldwide by embarking on an IT strategy that will give its IT staff a greater say in how its enterprise resource planning systems should be run and used by the business.

The company, which currently uses SAP, plans to develop a set of ERP systems by 2015 to improve the quality and speed of information sharing between manufacturing and management departments.

The IT processes and organisation strategy aims to maximise the effectiveness of the ERP systems by giving IT departments a greater say in how they are used by the business.

The IT function will also have a say in how staff who operate the ERP systems should be organised.

Volkswagen predicts that by 2011 the strategy will allow it to design new ERP systems and integrate them with business processes much more quickly, giving it an edge over its competitors.

"The pressure to reduce production costs and complexity by increasing the efficiency of our IT applications is a key driver for our IT function being able to influence business processes," said CTO Stefan Ostrowski.

Ostrowski said the IT function would become a "co-designer" of the business processes. Steering committees, consisting of both business and IT representatives, would be formed to take joint responsibility for IT budgets.

The traditional view on IT development has focused on deploying "better technology", without fully considering the needs of the department it works in, said Ostrowski. But he said reversing this was necessary if IT systems were to be truly effective at reducing complexity and cutting costs.

Forrester founder and CEO George Colony went further, saying that for businesses to get a true return on IT investments they must allow IT departments to get involved with steering business processes.

"When developing innovative applications, IT must lead the way and tell business units they are going to have to change the way they work, and the way that the division is organised - it can not be something that IT should be afraid of doing."

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