When Rick Maus joined Stoneridge in 2011, the company was on a quest to transform its IT function into a progressive business driver—and in less than three years, it is doing just that. A global manufacturer of electrical and electronic components, primarily for the automotive, commercial, and agricultural vehicle markets, Stoneridge develops products that improve vehicle performance, convenience, and safety—everything from fuel efficiency to safety systems. This dedication to innovation extends beyond the products produced and can be seen in everything the company pursues. “It’s an agile company that wants to continuously drive improvement in all areas,” Maus says.
Stoneridge was a perfect fit for Maus. A manufacturing veteran, he spent most his career at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, serving in diverse leadership roles of increasing responsibility, after which he joined a truck manufacturer as CIO. Four years later, he launched his own management consulting practice, which gave him even more expertise in driving change—the kind of change Stoneridge was seeking. The company’s IT department had made phenomenal progress in several areas, such as building out a significant IT infrastructure that enabled robust global communications and collaboration. But in keeping with its progressive nature, the company wanted to continue to adapt in line with its newly developed “One Stoneridge” theme, which sought to adopt a single consistent vision internally and present one face to the customer externally.
The IT organization immediately identified two areas in which change might be possible. First, since its launch in 1965, Stoneridge had grown significantly, to 8,700 employees, with a large part of the growth coming from acquisitions. As a result of these acquisitions, the IT organization was organized into business units, with unique IT systems and a lack of clear lines of accountability, making it difficult to provide consistent processes and information across the enterprise. Second, as Stoneridge organized to build out a strong IT infrastructure, the company continued to rapidly implement new technologies. While that’s the mark of a progressive company, says Maus, there was an opportunity to focus more on the value capture from the business side.
To address these issues, the IT organization reorganized to form a single global team, organized by business process, which allowed it to be an enabler in virtually every business process. The IT organization then got to work with its business partners to identify areas in which it could leverage technology to provide added value—something Maus believes is key to a successful IT department. “The opportunity to work in all the functional disciplines of a manufacturing company taught me that the value we deliver as an IT department is enabling the business,” he says.
In one case, the IT team led a build out of a data warehouse to facilitate business analytics. Because the company was organized into numerous business units with unique IT systems, business data across the enterprise was inconsistent, which created difficulty in comparing key operating information. It also required a significant amount of work to manually gather and analyze data in order to make business decisions. The data warehouse extracts business data from the unique global business systems every day, then translates it into a standard format and provides consistent business-performance metrics. It’s the essence of the business-oriented IT department that Stoneridge had envisioned. “New and powerful analytical tools are being provided to the business users, allowing them to spend more time analyzing the information that will drive improvements and less time working to find and extract it,” Maus says.
The data warehouse is one of many holistic solutions that are now the norm for the Stoneridge IT team. With the growing complexity of global manufacturing, such a position is necessary, and will enable the organization to adapt to whatever trends come next.