At Hendrick Motorsports, we look at IT as a competitive advantage. And it’s my job to support the company’s goals with the right technology. When Mr. Hendrick says he wants everyone—pit crews, engineers, accountants, mechanics—to work together to win NASCAR championships, we use Microsoft Teams to achieve that goal.
Most fans watching a race think it’s all about the car and the driver. But behind that combination is a ton of data, and the real question becomes how quickly we can consume and act on information to make race-winning decisions that give us a competitive edge. At the track, there’s not only adrenaline, but there’s a lot of noise, power issues and radio interference—so a lot of this collaboration has to be text driven. The persistent chat-based workspaces we get with Microsoft Teams are perfect on pit road.
In Talladega, Alabama, we have to make race strategy decisions for two of our cars. If we have a long green flag stint, when do we stop each car and take on gas and tires? The people on top of the pit box for both car crews use laptops running Windows 10 and Microsoft Teams to communicate so we don’t lose time due to a single car drag coefficient. And we can do that all without breaking radio silence, so we are not giving away secrets to the other competitors. Unlike most organizations that are separated from their competition across the city or the country, our competition is within feet of us, week in, week out. Microsoft Teams is based on the security features built into Office 365 and Windows 10, and that’s critical to keeping our competitive advantage.
Nowadays we have live radar on top of the pit box, and if we see a rainstorm coming, we get that information into Teams and chat about stopping before the race is halfway over. The reason being if the rain holds off until the race goes beyond the halfway mark, then it’s an official race, and we want to run it as if it’s not going to be canceled. Before Teams, we would send runners back and forth to a central radar location.
The communication that goes on during a race extends from the pit box to the people sitting in our transporters in the garage area to our complex in Concord, North Carolina. We have race engineers and crew chiefs devoted to individual car teams along pit road collaborating in Teams workspaces and making decisions that are relayed directly into the ears of the driver.
Then you have the crew members entering data into Teams, such as tire wear information, miles per gallon and how much fuel got added to a car. Race engineers and team managers back in the transporters watch the event, monitor communication and relay that information via Teams, straight to our personnel.
Back in Concord, there are people in the shop or conference rooms all signed in to Teams workspaces. They monitor the race to record events that the people at the track might miss in the moment. We use this to compile valuable historical data that we review later to make decisions for future races.
Everywhere you look, Hendrick Motorsports is using Microsoft Teams to fulfill Mr. Hendrick’s vision. We’re bringing the company together to help produce winning results.
Working Abroad: Keeping Track of Time with Office 365
Keeping Track of Time with Office 365
By Kelly Cronin
Time flies when you're having fun. Time also flies when you're studying abroad, when you're taking seven classes, when you're visiting five cities in seven days, and when you have a thousand tasks to catch up on. Staying on top of everything you need to do can be a challenge no matter where you are. With so many constant activities (and distractions), keeping track of time while you work abroad can seem almost impossible. Working with productivity tools from Office 365 can make time management a whole lot easier.
The Outlook calendar can be accessed online, on your desktop, and on your Outlook mobile app. So there is never really an excuse to not keep up with it. I even checked my calendar to see what day St. Patrick's Day falls on while hiking the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland! One of the most difficult parts of working in a different country is managing the time differences. The Outlook calendar automatically switches the time to whatever timezone you are in. If you want to contact your co-workers, you can view their calendar and see exactly when they are having meetings, without having to try and add or subtract however many hours ahead or behind you are. Now you can avoid all those time-difference errors that are both embarrassing and stressful.
One of my best motivations to staying on track with tasks is knowing how much I'm helping out my team. Microsoft Teams promotes collaboration through easy-to-use productivity tools. If I don't want to e-mail my boss at 2am, I can post in our Teams page so she can see it whenever she has time. That way our messages aren't getting lost in the vortex of unread emails. Teams also separates conversations into different categories, so I can easily see exactly which topic I am discussing. More organization? Yes please!
On Teams, you can also have individual conversations with your co-workers. Use the "Chat" feature to talk one-on-one with team members. You can also save certain conversations so they show up in a list of your saved conversations, favorite different teams, and view both your own recent activity and Team activity. Plus Microsoft Teams is available on your mobile device, making it available anywhere! Collaboration from a different continent is what we like to hear.
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