You are on page 1of 4

Santa Cruz Bikes

1. What, in your opinion, was the key factor in Santa Cruz


Bicycles successful process redesign?
Santa Cruz Bicycles was successful in its process redesign mainly
because it adapted a radical change in its business processes which
enabled the company to develop new and innovative products much
more rapidly. Instead of making small incremental changes to improve
its processes, Santa Cruz Bicycles decided to undertake a complete
overhaul of the design and engineering process. The company did this
through a combination of people, processes and technology based in
the article by Duvall (2007) in Baselinemag.com.
Although the software change was an integral part in the radical
improvement of its processes, the crucial factor in its success was in
whether the software had integrated effectively with the companys
technology needs and the companys culture. For example, in selecting
the appropriate software, Santa Cruz Bicycles considered the following
factors: whether the software met its needs, whether the software
could handle complexity in modelling and whether the software could
integrate effectively with other software (Duvall, 2007). In addition,
Santa Cruz is a company that is made up of passionate mountain bike
enthusiasts who are paid to push the envelope and be creative and
come up with new stuff, as described in a blog article on Santa Cruzs
website (Joes Corner, 2012). The new softwares ability to run
simulations at a faster rate helped its employees to rapidly generate

Santa Cruz Bikes

and test new ideas for innovative products, thus stimulating their
creativity.
2. What outside factors had come together for Santa Cruz
Bicycles to be able to make the changes they did?
First of all, Santa Cruz was able to move prototype production in-house
because the technology to build intricate parts was available in the market.
The company invested $ 45,000 in a van-size machine called Haas
Automation Toolroom Mill that could transform aluminum into intricate parts
needed to produce prototypes (Duvall, 2007). Therefore, the ability to control
production in-house gave Santa Cruz autonomy and flexibility, as opposed to
being dependent on third-party suppliers which may have its own timeline
and processes that may slow down Santa Cruzs prototype development.
Secondly, Santa Cruz was able to secure the high-quality human capital that
had the skills to build and test prototypes in-house because the Santa Cruz
area was known to be a hub for bicycle design and manufacturing and
attracted people with a passion for bicycle design and bicycle riding. Gary
Yokota is a master frame builder that was hired by Santa Cruz Bicycles
exclusively for that purpose. Having Yokota build and test prototypes that
were designed by the engineering team, using parts produced by the vanmachine created a seamless integrated workflow that enabled radical
improvements in processes.
Finally, the fact that product life management (PLM) technology is more
accessible to smaller firms such as Santa Cruz Bicycles allowed them to
2

Santa Cruz Bikes

effectively deploy this software across the organization. As vendors today could
break down PLM into module (instead of selling it as a package), mid-market
firms can obtain this technology at a relatively affordable price.
3. Why is this story more about change management than
software implementation?
The success of Santa Cruz Bicycles is not due solely to the change in
software. Many other factors contributed to their success in bringing
products into life at a faster rate e.g. hiring of master builder, in-house
production as opposed to outsourcing, the present company culture and the
availability of suitable software that catered to smaller firms .
The crucial factors in making decisions to improve a companys processes is
not about selecting the most advanced software and implementing it across
the company, but it is about choosing a software that would propel the
company to greater performance taking into consideration and the needs of
its employees, and its current and future technology needs.
In the case of Santa Cruz Bicycles, the companys employees were frustrated
with the slow process of bringing a new design to life using the CAD
software. The new PTC software was embraced by its employees because it
encouraged them to explore new ideas and assess the design from multiple
variables. The new software did not make their function obsolete, but
enhanced the quality of their work.
Secondly, in selecting a software, Santa Cruz Bicycles considered future
expansion of software use (Duvall, 2007). They chose PTCs software with the
3

Santa Cruz Bikes

expectation to integrate with other PTC modules over time. This is an


important lesson in change management because a company needs to
project its future needs so as to encourage a seamless workflow that can be
built upon as the need arises (incremental improvements) as opposed to a
total system overhaul (radical change).