A tool to make winning decisions
High-octane decision making in the screaming-loud environs of the pit requires a special tool for teamwork. Hendrick Motorsports uses Microsoft Teams, the new chat-based workspace in Microsoft Office 365, as the digital communication hub for teams at the track and across the organization.
“It’s too noisy to talk during the race, so we use Microsoft Teams in the pit as our direct line of communication,” says Gray. “I share graphs and data and chat quickly with Travis to say, ‘Hey, can we add this much fuel in this many seconds?’ That’s where the power of Teams comes in—keeping the conversation focused and immediate. Sometimes we use emoji and GIFs to add levity to the situation, but it’s the real-time data analysis and discussion that help us make the decisions that give us an advantage on the track.”
To date, Hendrick Motorsports has an enviable race record. As of 2016, it has won 12 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series owners and drivers championships. It has also won three Camping World Truck Series owners and drivers titles and one Xfinity Series drivers crown. But according to Matthew Cochran, Manager of Information Technologies at Hendrick Motorsports, there is always room for improvement.
“We always want to enhance collaboration across the organization to find out how we can win more championships and drive the business forward,” he says. “With Microsoft Teams, people can easily spin up a collaboration workspace and accelerate decision making—without going to IT. In fact, we’ve made Microsoft Teams a critical part of our digital transformation, which includes investing in Microsoft technologies such as Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure to be more agile and competitive.”
Hendrick Motorsports had been using Slack for some communications but never fully adopted the solution. “Having yet another client up on our screens and creating user accounts in a third-party system was aggravating,” says Cochran. “When we learned about Microsoft Teams, we were excited because it offers persistent chat and interoperability with collaboration tools that we already use in the Office 365 environment.”
The organization saw that it could give employees a collaboration hub that includes a built-in Microsoft SharePoint Online team site, OneNote notebook, and the ability to use Microsoft Planner and Power BI within each workspace. But it was the enterprise-grade security that really impressed Hendrick Motorsports. “Slack did not provide the level of security we need for a sports organization where your competitors are right next to you on the track and everyone is talking on the radio,” says Cochran. “Having enterprise-level security and compliance, plus all the tools that Office 365 provides—that was the key for us.”
Gray describes team-based communications at Hendrick Motorsports prior to adopting Microsoft Teams as “a shotgun blast of paperwork, emails, and files all over the place” that made it difficult for employees to organize their thoughts and keep their teammates focused on the issue at hand. Today, teams have everything they need at their fingertips to get work done faster. At the Hendrick Motorsports campus, L.Bryce Whitson Jr., Aerodynamics Engineer for Hendrick Motorsports, uses Microsoft Teams as a central location for the computational analysis of the organization’s aerodynamics, including the data collected by engineers running tests on the car at the organization’s wind tunnel.
“We conduct simultaneous tests, sharing and syncing large Microsoft Excel files through Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online to compare results in almost real time,” Whitson says. “We create a worklist to keep everything organized by using the Microsoft Planner and OneNote features inside Microsoft Teams. Now we don’t have to wait until the engineers come back from the wind tunnel to review the data. We refine our analyses of the car’s aerodynamic capabilities on the fly, get more tests done before the race, and build a faster car.”