Ford has spent the last year mapping its IT to focus on its stated business challenges: improving quality and customer satisfaction; continuing to deliver exciting new products; keeping costs at 2004 levels; increasing its market share and revenue in all regions; and continuing to develop its people. Ford’s core brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo.

“To improve quality we have been concentrating on service levels, on critical systems, and on security controls, especially in auditing and risk assessments of our IT portfolio,” says Bill Fairclough, European IT director.

"Everyone has the technology, but it is how you use it that can make the difference"

Bill Fairclough, IT director, Ford of Europe

“The business focus on cost has meant continuing to simplify our IT portfolio, and really concentrating on getting value for money through our supply chain and global sourcing agreements.” Ford’s employees are benefiting from more training so that the company has a capable and well-motivated workforce. “Having an effective workforce is a priority for the business and therefore for Ford’s IT organisation.”

The company’s European growth will come from markets in the East, and it is building its IT capability for Russian, Turkish, Rumanian and Bulgarian markets. This means IT support for Ford’s dealer network in these markets, as well as IT support for customers and company websites. Ford of course has a global reach; the Ford Focus is now built in Russia. “We are simplifying systems as much as possible,” says Fairclough. “This means upping the pace to compete in this fierce market.”

For example, Ford is looking at a cross-brand strategy for VoIP, and there are some significant challenges there, according to Fairclough. The network has to have the capacity to support the business and be cost effective.

“Everyone has the technology, but it is how you use it that can make the difference,” says Fairclough. “We want to exploit it better and more effectively. Innovation through CAD, engineering and manufacturing systems, and the use of virtual teams are all reducing the time to market. All the manufacturers are looking for a zero prototype environment, but this strategy will take more than five years, and has already been 20 years in the making.”