Q: Why did DSAG form the automotive SIG?
A: DSAG wanted to establish a dedicated community of SAP professionals from automotive companies within German-speaking countries. So, we launched the automotive SIG, which focuses on influencing SAP, networking, and sharing information and advice, all with the goal of meeting the automotive industry’s changing demands.
Q: Could you highlight some of the SIG’s accomplishments?
A: In the past, we’ve influenced enhancements in the SAP for Automotive solutions. For example, we recently looked at the process of subcontracting, in which an automotive supplier sends car parts to a subcontractor, who may give the parts subsequent treatment before returning them to the company.
To help improve how this process is tracked and managed within SAP software, the automotive SIG came up with a priority list of functional needs within the software and submitted it to our SAP contacts. We are proud to say that the functions approved by SAP are now available in enhancement packages 4 and 5 for SAP ERP 6.0.
Germany is one of the top motor vehicle-producing countries in the world. To address the changing needs of SAP customers within this industry, DSAG launched the automotive special interest group.
Q: What trends are you seeing in the automotive industry today?
A: Following the economic crisis, sales forecasts are less predictable, so the 100% optimization of a production program is less relevant. Also, the reactivity of multilevel supply chains is gaining more importance. Many automotive suppliers try to implement a rolling sales forecast with updates several times per year.
I also see that automotive manufacturers need to more nimbly respond to customer preferences, so they are bringing more car models to market in a shorter time frame. This will lead to more complexity in the product development process for OEMs and automotive suppliers. Streamlined, IT-supported processes can help manage this complexity.
Q: What are the SIG’s plans for the future?
A: We plan to intensify our work in 2011 — for example, in our continuous improvement initiative, which encourages the delivery of manageable SAP software enhancements in a short time frame. At the SIG’s next meeting, I plan to ask the community about their automotive-related solution needs, and then collect and submit their requests on a dedicated collaborative platform.
We are also working on enhancing both our internal networking with other DSAG SIGs and our external networking with automotive-related associations, such as the German Association of the Automotive Industry. This will help us focus even more on information sharing to better address the industry’s technology needs.
Dr. Volker Vogelgesang
Speaker, Automotive Special Interest Group