Nascar Wins the Productivity Race with Office 365 and PowerApps

When I read this case study I was instantly blown away by the showcase of value-add from Office 365 and PowerApps for Nascar. Even though I've watched many a Jeff Gordon race in my own personal time, I realized that I didn't have a clue about how much work went into broadcasting each race. NASCAR sanctions more than 1,500 events in 11 series at 110 racetracks in 37 US states and in Mexico and Canada.

“There is a huge amount of logistical effort required to coordinate efficiently the activities of more than 200 employees and vendors who work together to produce some of the most highly attended sporting events in the world.”

“We like to call ourselves a traveling circus,” says Stephen Byrd, Director, Technology Integration and Development at NASCAR.

 

Technology Transformations - SharePoint Online

How does NASCAR achieve this feat, week after week? Luckily the same advancements in technology that revolutionized racecars and trackside mechanics also accelerate operations throughout the company.

“In the last five years, we have seen NASCAR retool technology in every aspect of our business, from electronic fuel injection to how we work in the office,” says Franza. “We have moved beyond sitting behind desks using a computer linked to a local network to embrace technology that’s expected by a younger, high-energy, mobile workforce. We operate in an around-the-clock digital world, dealing with in-the-moment broadcast and race logistics. So we use Microsoft SharePoint Online as a cloud-based digital cockpit that accelerates how we work together to get things done. Our folks can get their files anytime, on any device, to keep us moving forward. It’s become essential for our business to be successful.” 

NASCAR developed a company intranet called Inside Track, a one-stop shop for all employees to stay up to date on current NASCAR news and to find resources they need to be productive. Built using SharePoint Online in partnership with Microsoft Consulting Services, the intranet includes department sites such as HR and Finances, but it’s a subsite called the @Track site that has really made a difference for the logistics team in NASCAR Productions—before, during, and after an event. 

The whole idea of creating the @Track site for the logistics team came about when members of the Technology Integration and Development department heard team members, who work in an adjacent office, continually calling out to each other over their cubicles to coordinate hiring and scheduling crews, make travel and catering arrangements, and accommodate rainouts.

“We thought there must be a better way to communicate,“ says Franza. “The ideal way to work today takes a mobile-first, cloud-first approach. We looked at G Suite, but Microsoft Office 365 provides a single platform of services that are enterprise ready. Employees can go from email to SharePoint Online to OneDrive for Business to Skype for Business Online without leaving our work environment—and with security and access management tied in.” 

“Things change from second to second building up to a race, but the logistics team stays on track with SharePoint Online. We’re saving time putting out fires, and our productions run more smoothly,” says Franza. “We no longer mail around locked Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. With the ability to coauthor, we can have 15 people working on the Operations Workbook at the same time. The documents indicate who makes changes in real time, which is incredibly helpful before, during, and after each event.” 

 

Mobilizing Information - PowerApps

Mobility is critical for NASCAR, but building and managing custom mobile applications across platforms has historically been cost prohibitive. Robert Burg, Senior Manager, Technology Integration and Development at NASCAR, recently used Microsoft PowerApps to build a custom mobile app in a matter of days rather than weeks.

The “Track App” displays maps, the TV compound, locations for officials, catering operations, hotels, and other logistic information directly from SharePoint Online on Android, iOS, and Windows mobile phones.

“By adopting Microsoft PowerApps, we got a fast, easy way to build and maintain a mobile app that uses our SharePoint Online data and that field workers love to have at their fingertips,” says Burg. “Now we can provide content to our independent contractors as well. All they have to do is download PowerApps on their device, and we can make the Track App easily available to them without having to publish it separately on the various app stores.” 

What an amazing showcase of what you can do with a single PowerApp! It just automagically works across all three major phone devices without any extra development work to make it compatible! This saved Nascar both the time it would normally take to get custom apps into the various app stores, and the expense of platform development for each device operating system.

 

A Suite of Cloud Services Enhance Collaboration and Efficiency

Nascar took full advantage of Office 365, optimizing many services not mentioned in this blog for the benefit of their business. What a pleasure to see how our cloud productivity tools are actively driving efficiencies into their workforce, enabling them to win the productivity race every day!

"The Technology Integration and Development team at NASCAR was born out of a single question: How do we empower the business to get more done? We chose Office 365, with its mobile-first, cloud-first benefits, to give our employees the best tools for working at the office or at the track. Putting a race together requires the same coordinated teamwork you see in the pit, and with Office 365 and SharePoint Online, we’re driving productivity into a new era of time- and cost-savings. That’s great news for NASCAR."—Stephen Byrd

For more on NASCAR’s race toward efficiency, read the full case study. Reach out to us if you'd like to pilot something similar; we're committed to enabling you to succeed!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this in the comments below! Happy PowerApping,

Audrie