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Inside Toyota Australia's tech transformation

How an IT restructure helped the car manufacturer make significant improvements in operational and service delivery

A complete organisational restructure of the entire IT division in 2009 which involved consolidation of four level one help desks into a single integrated service desk helped Japanese car manufacturer, Toyota Australia, make improvements in its operational and service delivery.

Toyota Australia Information Systems Division (ISD) service delivery corporate manager, Ellis Brover, says that improvements included millions of dollars of costs savings on outsourced services based on a new tender that clearly defined what services were required and what ISD was prepared to pay for, significant improvements in operational efficiency and the levels of service delivered to the business.

“That [IT] transformation program was all about process improvement, technology renewal and value for money,” he says.

“For example, by bringing related functions together we could clearly see that we had four level one help desks where we could have one. This was leading to customer confusion and high cost.”

While the decision by Toyota Australia to make some manufacturing staff in Melbourne redundant earlier in 2012 did not affect the ISD staff, Brover says that even in IT the division needs to be as competitive as possible.

“The Toyota philosophy is about competitive improvement. Even in IT we always need to do more with less,” he says.

2012 strategy

Following the IT restructure of 2009-10, Brover says the company has been able to introduce new technology such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL is a set of practices for IT service management that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business.

“We trained and certified all of our staff and created a dedicated service management team,” he says.

“Apart from the process improvement side, we also did technology renewal and we’re still doing that. This involves a comprehensive review of our infrastructure including the modernisation of our data centre, servers and storage.”

In addition, Toyota ISD has upgraded its desktop environment to Windows 7 from XP.

“On the value for money side, we did a cost benchmarking exercise starting in 2010 to understand where we needed improvement,” he says.

“We’ve had a lot of productivity benefits from having up to date technology which works much faster.”

As the organisation has only recently completed the Windows 7 migration, Brover says there are no plans to go with Windows 8 anytime soon.

According to Brover, it moved from an uncontrolled environment with XP to a stable operating system environment with Windows 7. This will allow the organisation to undertake easier upgrades to future versions of Windows.

Keeping on the Microsoft path, the company is currently evaluating the vendor’s Office 365 and similar cloud-based email systems. A decision on whether the company implements Office 365 will be made in early 2013.

“We’ve just finished doing an upgrade to Office 2010 internally so we’ll stick with that before we consider moving,” Brover says. “We also recently installed Windows Server 2010 as a large part of our transformation has involved modernising and replacing a lot of legacy hardware and operating systems.”

For example, Toyota Australia previously used a number of Windows 2003 and 2000 systems.

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