The German car industry is undergoing sweeping changes. The OEMs are offloading complex development and production tasks onto their tier 1 suppliers. The result: more demands being placed on suppliers who not only find themselves having to make bigger and bigger modules, they’re even being given the work of development or project management. As competition in the market is intense, it is crucial for companies to keep a close eye on costs.
When a company submits an offer or a proposal for a project, it normally does this before it embarks on development. But it can be difficult calculating offers early in a meaningful way for customers, precisely tailored to their needs. The reason: standard IT systems don’t provide the right tools. Based in Weingarten, the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Business Processes and IT Systems (BITS) has now come up with a solution which uses the Internet. Staff at the center looked at ways to improve business processes and map them in business applications. Their work resulted in the development of a special web-based system environment which allows companies to set up business applications quickly using simple and versatile methods. The system allows users to develop diverse solutions directly through a browser. The system developer is given a series of tiny standard components which can be assembled into forms. After only a few days’ training, users (and not programmers) can start piecing together their own applications.
The BITS transfer center used the system to create a web application for automotive suppliers to calculate offers. As well as displaying the usual type of data and creating financial reports, the system is a versatile tool for estimating projects as it encompasses a master data management tool. Automotive suppliers can manage project data before or during the development process,
draft component lists and work schedules, and of course calculate detailed offers. The component lists and work schedules can be drafted early on in the process as a qualified estimate. Then as things develop they become more detailed.
The web-based system offers clear benefits. By using an Internet browser there is no need to administer software locally. Any authorized user with access to the Internet can administer the project and managing data is flexible and decentralized. The system also allows experts to make adjustments directly via a browser. This cuts time and money spent for customizing to an absolute minimum.
The system offers project managers a highly useful and versatile platform for managing business processes. The applications it provides are totally user-friendly and integrating the system into existing company IT architecture can be carried out using standard database interfaces. For the first time medium-sized companies with limited financial and team resources can engage in Rapid Enterprise Application Integration (rEAI) in upstream business systems and create applications without longwinded programming.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Tomas Benz
Benjamin Hötzel, M.Sc.
Steinbeis Transfer Center Business Processes and IT Systems (BITS) (Baden)