Making a car involves several major decisions about the design of the car, how it will be built, and how it will be sold. Managers must also coordinate factory production, purchase materials, and train workers—all within a budget. Marketing teams must then sell the car and project returns on shareholder investments. New models are introduced yearly, but a single car design can take several years to get from the drawing board to the showroom floor. A typical company will therefore have several new designs in various stages of development at any given time.
The group within an automobile company that makes the main decisions about new cars often includes the chairman of the board and board members, the president, the marketing director, the sales director, the finance director, and the head of product development. These leaders must budget money, recruit a workforce, and set realistic deadlines. Rather than sending ideas from step to step as they are completed, leaders collaborate from the start with designers and engineers in a process known as simultaneous engineering to increase the speed and efficiency of car production. Engineering, manufacturing, sales, and other specialized departments in turn support the leadership decisions. Most of these positions require college degrees and extensive training. Companies also rely on the administrative services of clerks, typists, telephone operators, and others to support the process of automaking.