Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Tim Clark

Turning Cold Steel Into Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Is American manufacturing dead? Has the good ‘ol US of A become a land full of paper shufflers and burger-flippers? These questions continue to haunt many different industries and businesses in this age of outsourcing.

Thankfully, we have companies like Harley-Davidson to show us the way. While Harley-Davidson still clings to old school manufacturing values, they’ve also taken a hairpin turn into a modern age of processing efficiency that makes competitors eat their dust.


I’ve written about Harley-Davidson before, so I am familiar with their undying devotion to customer centricity. But here at SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW event in Orlando, I’m hearing more about their amazing transformation story and I am nothing short of impressed by the company’s “all in” mentality to run like never before.

At the heart of this go-for-broke transformation strategy is the Global Manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning (GME) initiative, which kicked off in October 2009. Ultimately, GME will help Harley-Davison inspire every customer, according to Dave Cotteleer, vice president and CIO of Harley-Davidson. “We want to deliver unique customer experiences to bring more people into the family,” he said during the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW Forum keynote session called “Improve Performance in Manufacturing, R&D and Sustainability.”

Here are other key facts that comprise GME:

  • Multi-year strategic initiative led by Business Process Transformation Group
  • Using SAP technology, GME delivered consistency to people, processes, data and systems across Harley-Davidson
  • Standardized and simplified numerous business processes, changing the way they work
  • Provided improved visibility and accuracy of data, better reporting and a clearer picture of the business

Ed Magee, General Manager for Harley-Davidson’s York manufacturing facility, shared impressive “before and after” GME results, some of which include the following:

                                  Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 2.26.05 PM.png

Sounds like Harley-Davidson is on the right track. What do you think? Sound off in the comments section below.

Hitch a ride with me on Twitter @TClark01

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Nice post Tim

      The Old vs New campus clearly shows what 'Outcome' based approach can do to various sections of a business.One has to look inside and connect it to the impact they want to create outside. I'm reminded of McKinsey's 'The Granularity of Growth' published in 2008.

      Outsourcing strategy is a bit like Mobile strategy, it cannot happen in isolation, companies that carry out such critical measure in isolation, pay the price later. The smart ones integrate it and grow.

      Author's profile photo Tim Clark
      Tim Clark
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks, Ramesh. The Harley transformation story is awesome. They knew going in it was going to have a fair share of ups and downs but they knew it was something they had to do. They persevered and, well, now look at them. They are thriving.

      Author's profile photo Siva Prasad V
      Siva Prasad V

      Thanks for sharing ,it is the modern business strategy to best utilize the resources and cut the costs