In a world characterized by extreme volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, the importance of process as a determinant of production success cannot be underestimated. Every industry recognizes the significance of reliability in achieving success, particularly in the face of market expectations and intense competition. It is well-established that defects, delays, and cost overruns are not uncommon. Consequently, the ability to repeat and replicate successful performances both within and outside an organization becomes crucial. This ability to consistently deliver high-quality results is an outcome of a process-based approach.
The automotive industry, like many others, has witnessed significant changes over the years. In the early 1900s, the industry in the United States and Japan dominated the global market due to their ability to meet market expectations, engage in mass production, and offer customization options. During this time, European industry players also emerged, focusing on efficiency in processes and professionalism. The growing complexity of engines, increasing demand for features, and rapid advancements in automation and fuel variety necessitated innovation to sustain the market. The successes achieved by major automotive companies were a result of adopting a systematic approach, or in other words, a process-based approach. As the industry became more complex with the introduction of new components and technologies, embracing a process-based organization became inevitable.
The Indian auto industry is poised for growth, driven by factors such as a young population, higher earning capacity, improved infrastructure, the growth of mechatronic industries, availability of sustainable fuels, and the need for a variety of vehicles to cater to a segmented market. The country possesses the necessary resources, including manpower, machinery, and raw materials, to fuel this growth. However, given the complexity of the industry and the integration of various elements, a sound and repeatable process becomes the solution to ensure success.
In the automotive manufacturing sector, most processes are standardized due to the highly competitive nature of the industry. Activities such as requirements gathering, designing, production, testing, and release to the market are practically the same for every manufacturer. However, what sets each manufacturer apart is the micro-level detailing and the unique value created through interactions between man, material, methods, and machines. Competency, material quality, efficient methods, and IoT-based machines become vital assets that provide a competitive advantage when combined in the right sequence. Therefore, Indian automotive manufacturers must not only focus on their processes but also benchmark themselves against the best in class to maintain their competitiveness, especially with the entry of Industry 4.0 and its multi-disciplinary interactions.
Being competitive in the automotive industry requires not only success in the domestic market but also dominance on a global scale. Stability in culture and behavior becomes imperative in achieving this goal. Culture provides the foundation for the evolution and stabilization of behavior, and a process culture is necessary to foster repeatable and reproducible behavior. Establishing an evolved process culture in the automotive industry is essential, and this requires the integration of best practices from within and outside the industry. Standards, frameworks, and models that offer cross-industry applications are valuable resources for benchmarking processes in production houses.
The latest model of ISACA’s Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is one such comprehensive model that incorporates cross-industry best practices for performance improvement. It was designed to be industry agnostic, drawing from IT/ITES practices, industry-specific standards, and practices from advanced product manufacturing industries such as medical electronics and aerospace domains. The CMMI model can be appropriately applied to any industry, including the automotive industry. Its practices cover various aspects, including supplier sourcing, safety and security, configuration management, requirements management, process asset development, and engineering practices. The model enables organizations to continually improve their process performance and cultural transformation, leading to optimization and maturity.
Implementing the CMMI model is a journey that involves periodic assessments and health check-ups. It helps organizations realign themselves to improved process discipline and keeps their cultural uniformity thriving. The model covers the entire product lifecycle and offers opportunities for benchmarking against peers, creating customer loyalty, fostering long-term business relations, and gaining cost advantages. As trendsetters and thought leaders, embracing CMMI as a comprehensive model for building a quality process ecosystem aligned with organizational strategic elements is a worthwhile experiment.
The current version of the CMMI model is well-equipped to handle modern challenges in the automotive sector, including safety and security, data management, supplier sourcing, intellectual property protection, and handling multi-tiered suppliers and OEMs. As the automotive industry gears up to handle end-to-end world-class automotive manufacturing, benchmarking against a world-class process maturity model like CMMI becomes imperative.
In conclusion, as the automotive industry continues to evolve, the adoption of a process-based approach and the establishment of a process culture are essential for success. Automotive manufacturers must not only focus on their processes but also benchmark themselves against the best in class and continuously strive for improvement. The CMMI model offers a comprehensive and industry-agnostic framework for performance improvement, cultural transformation, and long-term success. By embracing such a model, automotive players can effectively navigate the challenges of the industry and ensure their processes are of the highest quality.