Challenge

No industry has been spared from the COVID-19 economic slowdown, but the auto industry has been forced to shift gears more suddenly than perhaps any other: stopping and starting auto production isn’t as simple as flipping a switch.

Amidst the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, a global automaker’s Argentina subsidiary faced an additional challenge: It needed to bring employees on a common platform to offer better flexibility and collaboration. The company had already begun to embrace flexible working requirements just before the pandemic set in and had been working with the Accenture team on its deployment – so it was aware that it needed a better toolset for flexible work arrangements—from the factory floor to the c-suite. exploring work-from-home solutions, but the COVID-19 outbreak required an acceleration of its plans to ensure operational continuity.

As social distancing was to set in as a nationwide guideline, how fast could remote working be enabled for all employees? And more, how could the training and onboarding of all be accelerated before the lockdown?

What Accenture did

The team was familiar with the company’s operations and culture, having successfully completed a large-scale platform implementation.

This new challenge, however, required an equal mix of technology, training and cultural change. Just giving the company the keys to a new way of working wouldn’t be enough to keep it going during the pandemic; everyone needed to learn to drive, too.

They opted to upgrade everyone from the assembly line to the executive offices with Microsoft Office 365, with a specific emphasis on Teams for collaborative working.

Quickly taking a note of the legacy systems and the existing user arrangements, the team kicked off a phased migration and rollout (albeit accelerated given the speed at which social-distancing measures were enacted), starting with back-office departments.

The various user groups were segmented by job function, type of operating system and other criteria to ensure continuity of business, like making sure Excel spreadsheet macros that ran in various old versions of the program would be supported.

The team even added specifications to improve the system’s performance and user experience, including the layout of applications on the desktop and additional security restrictions.

People and culture

As each department received the upgrades, the team held round-the-clock training sessions that allowed the users to organize and align quickly on the best way to manage their operations from afar—essentially putting them at the wheel so they felt invested in the new way of working.

Thanks to the trust developed during their previous work with the company, employees were eager to engage in the training sessions so they could quickly transition to the new way of working.

Since time was of essence, the team selected key employees to serve as change agents who were trained in advance as early adopters of Office 365 and drove adoption at the company. They also relied on the change agents, to gain an understanding of various processes and workflows so they could minimize disruption and ensure a smooth rollout. Weekly reviews were held with several stakeholders to ensure that their needs were not compromised as Office 365 was customized and deployed.

Employees with different levels of technical understanding and experience were present in each training session in order to reflect the needs of users across the organization.

Quickly taking a note of the legacy systems and the existing user arrangements, the team kicked off a phased migration and rollout (albeit accelerated given the speed at which social-distancing measures were enacted), starting with back-office departments.

The various user groups were segmented by job function, type of operating system and other criteria to ensure continuity of business, like making sure Excel spreadsheet macros that ran in various old versions of the program would be supported.

The team even added specifications to improve the system’s performance and user experience, including the layout of applications on the desktop and additional security restrictions.



Value delivered

From its factory-floor employees all the way up to its president, the company has fully embraced the new suite of software.

It now has an enhanced digital and collaborative work structure that is keeping the company up and running, but the fast pace at which the transformation took place also put the company in a better position to manage the business impacts of the pandemic and pivot operations accordingly. Employees can access their data from anywhere and then share with colleagues without any security risks. And thanks to the protocols defined by the company, employees will have gained the necessary experience to work flexibly.

Employees have reported that the new Office 365 suite has made them more efficient and productive—85% say that their way of working has improved with Office 365, both on-site and at home.

When employees do work on-site, meeting rooms are now only used for essential events or appointments, which has allowed the company to retire—and realize cost savings—associated with desk phones or other old ways of meeting and communicating. The new system allows employees to spend more time focused on their essential tasks, and to quickly connect with colleagues— wherever they are—for speedy and efficient interactions.

This success has encouraged continued transformation. The team is now working on data-driven decision making and exploring cloud technologies.

COVID-19’s adverse effects notwithstanding, the pandemic inspired this automaker to accelerate organizational upgrades, preparing the company to navigate back to normalcy.

Meet the team

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