Written by: Fred Studer
Lotus Formula One Integrates Enterprise Resource Planning to Contend for World Championship
Attend a Formula One race, and you can expect to be swept up in the sights and sounds of cars rounding the track at 300 kilometers per hour, the high-pitched whine of their engines competing with the shouts from the crowd. One second can separate the first position from the last. No wonder the motorsport has thrilled a cumulative fan base of more than 1.75 billion. That’s right, billion with a “B.” Twenty-four drivers vie for the championship prize, competing in 20 races annually in 19 countries.
Formula One is considered the most competitive and sophisticated form of motorsports. Sophisticated for the extremely high-tech car parts the teams invent every day. Because milliseconds determine the win, teams have an extreme degree of focus on the prize and continually improve their product (the car) and processes: all the behaviors and supporting systems needed to put their driver across the line first. The technology that teams use to measure and manage the car’s performance, and to manage both manufacturing and the business, must help drive the team to its goal.
Formula One teams compete under conditions that are a microcosm of today’s business environment:
- Budget constraints: A Resource Restriction Agreement caps spending on racing operations for all Formula One teams, making efficiency and operational improvements imperative.
- Need for agility: extremely rapid development from concept to manufacture is often counted in days, whether for a part or an entire car.
- Innovation: The team creates thousands of evolutionary designs during the racing season, based on terabytes of sensor data, test runs, and computerized simulations.
- Need for insight and timely decisions: to help everyone contribute to the singular goal of more wins.
Yet as central as technology has become, it is brilliant, creative, and talented people that make the Lotus Formula One team successful. The Lotus team, 550 in number, contributes myriad skills toward a single goal: winning the Formula One world championship. Based in Enstone, England, the highly skilled Lotus team designs, builds, maintains, tests, and races the Lotus Formula One Team car, which can travel from zero to 60 miles per hour in 1.6 seconds.
Looking ahead to the 2014 racing season, Lotus executives realized that the systems used in Lotus’s fairly traditional, linear manufacturing processes couldn’t support rapid iterations in design and development needed to gain precious millisecond margins.
After evaluating 13 enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, Lotus Formula One chose Microsoft Dynamics. The team can use Microsoft Dynamics to collect live, accurate information, make informed decisions, maximize resources, and ultimately, build a faster car. Lotus expects to improve manufacturing productivity and deliver information safely and quickly to remote employees. Because its people are critical to the win, Lotus can connect Microsoft Dynamics with its HR environment to manage the skill sets it needs for new manufacturing processes. With a central portal for all information, Lotus Formula One can realize the value of research and innovation, better manage sponsor relationships, and get ready to win races in 2014.
If an ERP system can help the people at Lotus make a race car go faster, maybe it can help you pull ahead of the competition to help your team win, too.
Post originally written for Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/microsoftdynamics/2012/12/03/the-business-of-the-finish-line/