CA Technologies Helps Us Stay Ahead of Our Clients' Needs

Ed Smith, CTO, Cox Automotive
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Ed Smith, CTO, Cox Automotive

Today’s complex market place demands complete solutions, which require a vision of the big picture. As the only company in our industry that provides a connected experience for our clients, we are transforming the way the world buys, sells and owns cars.

Cox Automotive is an integrated family of 30 brands with 30,000 team members and over 40,000 clients. As a frame of reference, 73 percent of all car buyers use one or more of our solutions when purchasing their next vehicle. How do we bring it all together to provide value and insight that no one else can? Technology.

You could say that reliance on technology–to innovate and meet the ever-changing needs of our clients–is the only constant in our business. Bill Gates said: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

We take that to heart at Cox Automotive. Inaction is worse than the wrong action, as you can always move forward from a failed product or service, but you can never move forward by sitting still.

As we continue to grow and integrate people, operations, products and solutions, we continually look for ways to optimize and strengthen our existing software solutions and deploy new ones to address unmet needs.

‚Äč  Inaction is worse than the wrong action, as you can always move forward from a failed product or service, but you can never move forward by sitting still 

We are constantly scrutinizing and updating our technology stack to outpace our competitors and anticipate our clients’ needs before even they do.

I say to my team that tools drive technique. Two important tools to us are CA Agile Central and CA Project & Portfolio Management (CA PPM).

CA Agile Central Enables Collaboration, Planning and Execution across Brands

CA Agile Central is the Agile Lifecycle Management platform that the Cox Automotive development and product teams use to determine the main initiatives they are going to work on. CA Agile Central provides a platform to scale across the Cox Automotive Software Group, which is key to us as we continue to grow. It is the central collaboration, planning and execution tool for our software developers. Agile development teams use it to gain an understanding of what work is going through the system and what teams can be brought together into Agile Release Trains and portfolios to meet business objectives.

Many of our brands currently use Agile Central, but because of the efficiencies it’s helped us create, we are now rolling it out to other brands, including HomeNet Automotive, vAuto and VinSolutions brands later in the year.

By using CA Agile Central, we are able to minimize islands of information. This shared platform allows us to get closer to one source of truth, creating full visibility into what is happening from a software development perspective within the Software Group.

For the Software Group, our ultimate clients are automotive dealers. CA Agile Central enables collaboration and integrated solutions across business units to meet the market needs of our dealers in the most cost effective and responsive way possible.

Additionally, CA Agile Central augments or replaces some of the more team-level tools as a true enterprise-level Agile tool. As our company continues to grow and bring together disparate BUs, we are looking at Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). We need enterprise-class Agile tools to execute in this SAFe model. CA Agile Central has the functionality that supports Agile at this scale and allows us to support SAFe from a systems perspective. That’s a win—win for us.

CA PPM Enables Initiative Alignment to Business Strategies

Another CA Technologies solution that we use is CA PPM. This solution provides a system of record for initiative information in a software-as-a-service application.

As our business continues to increase in complexity, so do our initiatives. The CA PPM application enables initiative alignment to business strategies, an enterprise view of aggregated status, and roadmaps for technology and business launches. Managing our initiative investments is an important element of how the company stays on budget for the year and allows us to achieve our profit goals.

CA PPM also enables insights for initiative investment decision-making. We can easily identify initiatives that are at risk and those that have not yet started.  The tool also allows us to ensure we are appropriately allocating budget among the Run, Grow and Transform investments, and provides the information necessary to re-balance the portfolios should the need arise. We have implemented this tool in several business units, and the system provides the controls, and security parameters we need across the enterprise. 

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