Project Cheetah

The Cheetah is the world’s fastest land-based animal and right now, Saab is looking to employ some speed when dealing with reorganising its business. We are aiming to make substantial efficiency gains and cost savings as we become more competitive for the future.

Work began on Project Cheetah on the strategic level even before the reorganisation decision came through. Today, just days after the reorganisation decision, meetings are already taking place around the company with individual sections of the business looking at how they can do things smarter, leaner and meaner.

Saab has a well-ingrained culture of consultation, seeking suggestions from employees as to how their particular work area can operate better. Saab actually won a Swedish lean production award a few years ago for it’s work in developing and implementing this type of system. Cheetah is this process on steroids, with everyone involved.

Cheetah is a cost-structure project. It doesn’t specifically look at how to increase sales and revenue. That’s the other side of our profitability equation that will receive intense attention. Cheetah will play into this, however, because getting ourselves even more competitive, coming through the reorganisation process successfully and getting production up and running again will play a significant part in boosting consumer confidence about the future of Saab.

Cheetah is being overseen by a steering group, under which four functional teams are being used to look at the whole business structure at Saab. The four functional teams are:

  • Manufacturing and purchasing
  • Product development, including engineering and powertrain
  • Sales, Marketing, Aftersales and communication
  • Administration

There will also be a cross-functional team to handle appropriate areas requiring co-ordination between the four functional teams.

The individual units within these teams will be getting together very quickly, taking suggestions from the troops on the ground as to how their operations can be better and more efficiently structured. Much of our recent past has been involved with the carve-out of business operations from the systems that were in place from the GM days. Cheetah will be an opportunity to create a new ‘Saab way’ of working more efficiently and effectively within our own systems, instead of working in transition as we’ve done in the recent past.

The initial workings of the project are expected to be completed late October. This will be the consultation and planning process. We will seek to implement changes discovered during the consultation and planning process by the end of 2011 in order to have the new, more competitive structure in place for the beginning of 2012.

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    1. No, it doesn’t mean that at all.  This focuses on a business-wide reorganisation and production is just one part of that. We definitely plan for a re-start as soon as possible and that won’t be contingent on reorganisation of the events planning people, for example. We’ll start building again as soon as we’re able.

  1. Something that every organization likes to talk about but rarely does in any real way.  You have the pressure to take on many sacred cows and actually make big changes that other companies won’t. If it works, Saab will have a competitive advantage.

    Related:  this is why many (including me) wanted GM to fail.  Not because it would cease to exist, but because the huge pressure would force real change there.  As it is, GM kept some of the high-cost structure it should jettison.  GM will be on the ropes again in two-three years if they are unsuccessful at rooting these costs out on their own.

  2. Few questions + comments:
    1.  From what I know, when the c900 was being produced, it was seen as a car that was very safe, fairly cheep, pretty quick, space efficient, and extremely good in bad weather.  What happened to make the saab brand to become more expensive?  From from people today what I hear is they’re over priced. [sad face]  – Saab is about the Passion and Emotion of driving!  Keep the premium brand (9-5) high quality + price and keep the basic brand (9-3) low on cost + simplify quality.  Appeal to all masses of income.What I love about saab is their passive approach for the car to be efficient (Turbo!) but most car companies today are going so high tech, it builds up cost and complications with durability.  Recently the majority of car designs drive me crazy, because designers can’t get out of their box and expand their thinking, thus all cars look and feel the same.  Hence, why I’m dying to see the new all saab car!
    Get new minds in there, recruit interns! (they’re cheeper)

    The advertisements for Saab that I have seen are really fantastic;  As a Designer I would say whoever is in Saab’s graphic/visual department is doing a great job and keep it up.  However, I rarely see these advertisements on tv or in magazines/newspapers.  Budget is hard, I know, but as soon as the new all saab car is released its critical to get that image out as soon as possible and in a big way.

    Also related to advertising – I know many people who once they start driving a saab continue to do so, so you need to get them into one – promote the used saab market? 

    So. Not all exactly business related, I am studying Architecture – However I was just in Scandinavia last spring and what I absolutely love about the design there whether it is fashion, food, furniture, etc- is that its all about simplicity, not ornamentation.  If it seems a little confusing and complex, maybe its time to simplify – constantly ask yourself, what is this doing for my idea? hurting, helping, or nothing at all.  

    By simplifying a concept and ideas behind it, it starts to make a more efficient and well thought idea.  Apply this to the business model – are there people who are willing to take on a larger workload to save their Saab?  I know there are so many willing to fight for saab. gather your resources (free or otherwise from the internet) and put them to work helping.  I love this blog because it shows Saab is really reaching to the people directly, not some business corporation that doesn’t truly listen.