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GM Creates the Telematics Industry Using System Dynamics

The Official Website

onstar.com is the official website in which you can become a member, get familiar with the services and purchase a plan.

The Issue You Tackled

In 1997, General Motors (GM) assembled a project team to develop its OnStar telematics business. Telematics is the provision of communications services to cars, including crash notification, navigation, Internet access, and traffic information. OnStar is GM’s two-way vehicle communication system that provides a variety of services that enhance safety, security, entertainment, and productivity. At the time, GM faced fundamental strategic decisions with respect to OnStar. The default and safe strategy was to market OnStar as a car feature that would improve vehicle safety and security. An alternate strategy was to view OnStar as a service business that could contribute greatly to GM’s profits.

What You Actually Did

GM formed a project team to consider alternative strategies for OnStar. GM makes important strategic decisions through the dialogue decision process, in which the project team interacts with the decision board that is responsible for actually making the decision and committing resources. Dynamic modeling can be a part of this process.

In this case, application of modeling was difficult. In the vehicle business, GM has decades of experience and plentiful historical data. Modelers can build on a wealth of previous analyses and examples of best practice. The OnStar business was very different in that the telematics market did not exist. To cope with the inherent uncertainty, we needed a modeling process that would allow integration of various methods and data sources. A simulation model was our core tool in the OnStar strategy project. The final model had six key sectors: customer acquisition, customer choice, alliances, customer service, finances, and dealer behavior.

In late 1997, the project team recommended a very aggressive strategy that included installation on all GM vehicles, recruitment of other manufacturers into the OnStar system, making the first year of service free and aggressively pursuing alliances with content partners.

The Results

Through 2001, the implementation of the OnStar business strategy has progressed very much as expected. The project contributed to creating a new enterprise mental model for GM, in which the transactions revenue is augmented with a stream of revenue from service businesses like OnStar. The OnStar project also created the new telematics business which did not exist before GM implemented its strategy. Today, Wall Street analysts project that the industry will grow to $12 billion over the next 10 years. By far, OnStar’s most important contribution is saving lives. OnStar answers thousands of emergency calls each month and has often made the difference between life and death.

Name The General Motors OnStar Project
Modelers Vince BarabbaChet Huber, Fred Cooke, Nick Pudar, Jim Smith, Mark Paich
Client General Motors
Client Type Corporation

Do you want to know more?

Publications

A multimethod approach for creating new business models: the General Motors OnStar project Download

Did You Know?

System Dynamics Application Award

The System Dynamics Applications Award is presented by the Society every other year for the best “real world” application of system dynamics. In 2007, the Society awarded its first Applications Award to Vince Barabba, Chet Huber, Fred Cooke, Nick Pudar, Jim Smith, and Mark Paich for their work A Multimethod Approach for Creating New Business Models: The General Motors OnStar Project.

To see the citation that was made by James Lyneis at the conference, please follow this link(Jul 2007)

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Fluor Avoids Costly Project Changes Saving $1.3bn

Fluor saves $1.3 billion in System Dynamics-based project management.

#United States #Engineering #Fluor #Corporation

CLIENT: FLUOR

Fluor is one of the world’s largest engineering and construction firms, with 2008 revenues over $20 billion. The US-based firm operates in every major business sector and geography.

CHALLENGE: CHANGES DON’T IMPROVE PROJECTS, QUITE THE OPPOSITE

A large part of Fluor’s work is organized in the form of projects, which are typically market-driven with aggressive cost and schedule targets and evolving client needs. It is the tension among these different objectives that is often the underlying dynamic for generating changes on projects. In an initiative by Fluor’s Chairman, a comprehensive quantitative review examined all Fluor projects over several years. For many in the industry, there is a misperception that contractors improve their performance with more changes. This company-wide review was unequivocal in refuting that notion. There is a clear, unambiguous relation between the level of changes and the cost and schedule performance of projects: more changes bring ever-worsening performance on projects.

ACTION: FLEXIBLE SYSTEM DYNAMICS MODEL TO PROJECT COST OF CHANGES

After Fluor had identified and quantified the business need for improving the practice of project change management, two external consultants first built and piloted and validated a project model to assess change impacts on several initial projects. In the four years since then, the model has been used in the “Change Impact Assessment” system to conduct thousands of analyses on over 100 client projects. Fluor projects analyzed with this model range in size from less than million to more than billion.

The system rapidly tailors a model to simulate each engineering and construction project. Each model is then used to foresee future cost and schedule impacts of project changes, and most important, test ways to avoid the impacts.

We developed a project model based on our prior modeling work with Fluor, and built a system around it, with defined practices to rapidly and automatically tailor the model to a specific project. We set up an interface to allow dozens of trained company users to test proactively project-wide impacts of proposed design or scope changes.

We conducted worldwide training of executives and managers and analysts, ensuring the focus was on foreseeing and mitigating future change impacts. The system was applied to hundreds of Fluor projects.

RESULTS: COST REDUCTION OF $1.3 BILLION

A cultural change occurred in the company, focused on proactive mitigating efforts that reduce change impacts on the projects.As a result, many disputes were avoided (some had cost tens of millions of dollars), and cost impacts were reduced by proactive actions identified in the analyses, amounting to over $1.3 billion savings to Fluor and their clients.

LEARN MORE

System Dynamics modelers: Kenneth Cooper and Gregory Lee

AWARDS & PUBLICATIONS

Award: In 2009, the Society awarded its System Dynamics Applications Award to Kenneth Cooper and Gregory Lee for their work Managing the Dynamics of Projects and Changes at Fluor. See conference slides and citation.

Article: Managing the Dynamics of Projects and Changes at Fluor

 

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