Winning the post-merger war: Page 2

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Once the database was published, other departments could link to it simply by pointing to its URL on the Mercedes-Benz intranet, a simple Windows NT machine, Rosenfeld says. Now, before factory or warehouse managers come to Montvale for a conference, Rosenfeld can have badges--complete with pictures--printed up for them. The people planning those meetings can greet their fellow employees warmly because they've already seen them online. Line managers benefit because they can see at a glance who is in their department, what their job responsibilities are, and who they report to. As an added bonus, "If a position is open you can click a box and see the function of the job, the salary range, [and] the knowledge skills, and we can recruit internally from there," Rosenfeld says.

OrgPublisher's capabilities provide real bottom-line savings. Mercedes' original, printed quarterly reports cost $46,000 four times a year to create, and that expense has been eliminated.
The OrgPublisher database can also be used at budget time. "The system allows department managers to view what positions are open, and do some of their planning through the tool, rather than having reports run off." Where Rosenfeld used to spend hours filling requests for reports on budgeted head counts, "Now they can get that information online," she says.

OrgPublisher's capabilities provide real bottom-line savings. Mercedes' original, printed quarterly reports cost $46,000 each to create, and that expense has been eliminated. "Soft" benefits are apparent as well. "People love it--they can search by names and find a reporting relationship simply," says Rosenfeld.

Still, there was some early cost. The product had to be installed, the photos had to be taken, and the process of moving and maintaining the new database had to be done several times to make certain everything worked. OrgPublisher was to become the backbone of corporate life. As Rosenfeld explains, "This became our telephone directory, our e-mail listing, our fax number listing, and a picture book for all employees." But the cost was recaptured within a few months.

Time will tell

How will this tool be leveraged as decisions about personnel are heightened? Well, the first budgets under the new organization must be completed by August of this year. "The budget for head count needs to be approved by DaimlerChrysler," Rosenfeld says, and OrgPublisher will allow managers to "get a visual perspective of their head count." By doing what-if analyses, moving positions around before the changes take effect, and seeing the impact that changes have on their budgets, managers can come to employee position decisions more quickly. Having this kind of data at their fingertips should be a powerful tool for Mercedes' managers as they draw their swords and prepare to protect jobs in Montvale and at other Mercedes-Benz locations.

Using OrgPublisher at Chrysler could create additional savings, not to mention some goodwill between the newly unified HR departments. (Chrysler doesn't have a tool like this.) But it's no small task to increase the reach of Rosenfeld's database and extend it to the entire Chrysler employment base in the United States. It will take integration between TimeVision and the systems of various ERP vendors, something Rosenfeld says DaimlerChrysler is now working on.

The folks who create OrgPublisher aren't standing still either, and those efforts should assist Daimler-Chrysler immensely, if it chooses to go with Rosenfeld's solution companywide. ODBC connections between OrgPublisher and various database systems will, within a few months, offer real-time access to the organization chart, she says (and TimeVision confirms it).

It goes without saying that integrating two companies after a merger is always a struggle. Having data in compatible formats, under TCP/IP and HTML standards, is undoubtedly a plus for organizations entering the War Zone. The company that enters such a negotiation with its personnel databases at its fingertips has the clear advantage. Offering that data in a visual, easy-to-understand format, like an organization chart, is yet another plus when hard decisions have to be made quickly.

Time will tell whether all this is enough to save jobs in Montvale. //

Dana Blankenhorn has covered computing since 1983 and now edits (, a free e-mail newsletter on electronic commerce, from his home-office in Atlanta. He can be reached via e-mail at

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