At the start of 2008, Hirschmann Automotive, an automotive supplier with headquarters in Rankweil, Austria, launched a partnership with the Steinbeis firm TQU International GmbH. The aim? To restructure its integrated management system in line with the international standards ISO-TS 16949:2002 and ISO 14001:2004. Hirschmann now has a dynamic management system, popular and well used among employees. The secret: wiki technology – allowing all users to edit pages.
“Our old QM system just wasn’t practical any more,” explains Samuel Neuhauser, “wiki officer” and head of management systems at Hirschmann Automotive. Only a handful of users actively used and maintained it. On the hunt for a new software solution to document the certified QM system, Neuhauser stumbled across an article about TQU International and their Management System 2.0 – a new form of dynamic wiki-based management system. “The wiki idea really appealed to me – and was much better value than a standard software solution. It was time for our ‘wiki adventure’ to begin,” remarks Neuhauser.
The company wanted a management system it could shape and maintain itself, without external help. The answer? A combined task force, including TQU staff on hand to provide initial technical help and assist in project controlling. In several training sessions over a four month period, Hirschmann staff learned how to get the new QM system up and running, and how to work with wiki. These training sessions – which included staff from other firms – were tailored directly to participants’ needs.
Hirschmann staff were dedicated to the project from day one, constantly voicing new suggestions for the redesigned system. They enjoyed working on the documentation, realizing its value to the company. One key aim was to create a system which could be maintained by all plants – a multilingual platform covering all three Hirschmann sites, central yet decentralized. To help realize this, a “wiki admin day” was held for staff from all three plants. “After the training, everyone knew it was ‘our’ system, not something imposed on us by headquarters,” Neuhauser explains. This created a strong community – with key influencers attending workshops so the wiki management system can be improved day after day.
A single platform offering an all-round solution: not only does Hirschmann now possess a dynamic, redesigned QM documentation system, in July 2008 the wiki also completely replaced the old company intranet. By then, the knowledge management pages were complete too. Staff are now more familiar with quality management workflows than ever – and take a much more active role in implementing and improving them.
The success of the Hirschmann wiki is in no small part thanks to the clear goals laid down by management, and their unwavering support for the project. Key questions were asked – such as ‘What do we want? When do we want it? What don’t we want? And what else do we want?’ – and detailed answers were provided in return.
But that’s not all. There are a multitude of reasons for the project’s success. The clear roles assigned within the team. The project manager’s exemption from other tasks to concentrate solely on Management System 2.0. The ideal makeup of the core team. Great teamwork between the IT and management system staff. The list goes on and on: excellent project marketing, expertly coordinated communication and information management, high employee participation, and the task-splitting between several team members – not to mention the creation of “key influencers” (one or two wiki officers per department who received thorough training in advance).
The wiki management system was divided into three areas:
A clear structure, ensuring improved ease of use – helping projects on their way to a successful outcome.
Support from experts at TQU was also key to the success of the Hirschmann “wiki adventure”. And staff benefited from working with other companies in the Management System 2.0 task force, giving firms the chance to learn from each other.
Management System 2.0 seems the ideal way forward – for TQU International as well as Hirschmann Automotive. The figures confirm this: on the first day of the wiki, staff made over 150 page edits, and over 50,000 page views were recorded in the first month. Samuel Neuhauser agrees: “All things considered, we feel well-prepared to face future challenges head-on – both with the wiki as well as the automotive market. The wiki is an excellent information platform – it’s quick, easy and direct.” As you can see, at Hirschmann, wiki is on everyone’s lips!