Achieving greater accuracy and better product launches with Office 365

Today’s Office 365 post was written by Kevin Parlette, vice president of IT at Dana Holding Corporation.

Achieving greater accuracy and better product launches with Office 365  Pro PixNew cars and trucks come to market every year, with advanced features and capabilities designed to entice buyers to purchase. That yearly cycle affects the entire automotive supply chain, putting pressure on suppliers to innovate at a similar pace. At Dana Holding Corporation, we make automotive components that range from drivetrains to tire-management systems, and we’re constantly working to hone our product management process to not just keep up, but to get ahead.

This year, one of our main business objectives was to develop more structure around our product launches. In the past, if we were designing a new axle, for example, we managed the project using spreadsheets, drawings that we shared through email, and (when possible, given our globally dispersed teams) face-to-face meetings.

Today we rely on a solution that combines Microsoft Office 365 components and Microsoft Azure to streamline our launch process. Now, rather than searching for files and hoping that everyone’s looking at the most up-to-date version, team members go to one place for every piece of information related to the launch, from the issue log and product specs to the timeline and financials. We also hold formal and informal international meetings using Skype for Business video calls. The key is to have a repeated workflow process with the same steps, regardless of the product.

When all stakeholders have visibility into a project and its status, we enhance both our quality and our timeliness, which results in smoother launches and better accuracy throughout. Our stretch goal is to improve our profit margin. If we can reduce the number and severity of issues along the project development process, we’re able to launch products with a lower cost, which means there’s a greater delta. Our use of Office 365 to provide structure and rigor will be an advantage because it puts us closer to perfection in the launch process, which is the aim throughout our company and industry.

Of course, achieving perfection isn’t just about the process. At Dana, our people are the other integral aspect of the success we’ve enjoyed since 1904. By modernizing the technology tools that we give to our employees, we’re providing a better end-user experience, removing barriers to cross-company communication and collaboration, and freeing up our IT staff to deliver better, more strategic service for our employees’ benefit.

Now that we’re using Office 365, it’s easier for colleagues to connect to each other from anywhere. And because we have 23,000 employees in nearly 100 locations around the world, that’s a big deal. The ability to share screens during video calls, view the latest presentations on our iPhones, and access files using any computer strengthens teams. Providing straightforward access to the same current, relevant information means that everyone works from the same set of facts and less is open to interpretation.

Upgrading to Office 365 has not only made our existing employees happy, it also helps us attract new talent. We can be more competitive in terms of finding the right people to carry on our tradition of excellence. New recruits see that we’re investing in state-of-the-art elements that will keep Dana successful both today and well into the future.

—Kevin Parlette

Read the full story to understand how Dana is using Office 365 to reduce project development issues, launch products at lower costs and improve profit margins.