Volvo takes control through an online global IT division

Volvo has formed a worldwide IT division made up of "virtual workgroups" to support its workforce of 50,000. The vehicle...

Volvo has formed a worldwide IT division made up of "virtual workgroups" to support its workforce of 50,000. The vehicle manufacturer said it has already slashed IT support costs and created global standards.

Volvo has implemented Web-based IT support software that will enable its 3,000 IT support staff to be grouped according to expertise and ensure that someone is available to answer any query around the clock.

Inge Forsberg, process owner for Volvo's IT support project, said, "This allows us to have a 'thinner layer' of skills, with front-line staff easily forwarding queries to experts through a simple browser.

"More and more of our applications are moving from local to global installation and we found we needed a common set of processes for their support. We have wrested control of a formerly sprawling, disparate system."

Forsberg said the flexibility of having common support tools that are accessible from any location is crucial to the system's effectiveness.

This enables, for example, SAP specialists to be located in one "virtual workgroup", that is available to end-users around the world. Specialised factory applications are provided with local support, all using a common process on uniform software.

The system - Siebel software implemented by Princeton Consulting - covers IT support for all of Volvo's operations from manufacturing to sales.

Princeton developed the software to map to Volvo's business needs after the car company had rejected standard software packages.

Forsberg said, "Readily available solutions were not suitable for us - they were often too US-centric or didn't suit our groups' structure."

Volvo said it is now tracking and analysing IT problems more effectively than in the past and is able to identify trends which help it tackle recurring technological issues. The unified nature of the system also enables the company to pass on best practice knowledge more effectively throughout the business.

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