REVIEWER: Scott Lampe, chief financial officer (CFO) for Hendrick Motorsports.

BACKGROUND: Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) employs more than 400 people and is one of the largest and most well-respected racing operations in the industry. They operate and race five major teams throughout the year including four NASCAR Winston Cup Racing Teams and one Busch Grand National Team. HMS also owns and operates the Hendrick Motorsports racing complex in Charlotte, North Carolina, where racing specialists design, test and build cars and engines continuing to push motorsports technology to the next level. With more than 100 race wins and an unprecedented four straight victories at the Winston Cup championship (1995-1998), HMS is a strong competitor and a leader in the motorsports industry.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows NT or Windows 2000 Server, Internet Explorer 6.0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Hendrick Motorsports' torrid pace does not stop on the race track. With 21 separate departments and 400 employees, our short six-week budgeting process was awkward, disjointed and often a collision course. Our accounting team used multiple, linked spreadsheets to capture budgeting information from individual department managers and then manually compiled the data into a complete document. With such a short budgeting cycle, we struggled to create accurate and flexible budgets that could adapt throughout the year to respond to current market challenges and opportunities. Our HMS accounting team often found inaccuracies within their data, and budgets rarely matched project forecasts, taxing the overall business strategy. In order to improve budget accuracy and respond to project budget requests, we also needed an easy-to-use, collaborative solution to involve crew chiefs and other non-financial managers in the planning process. We turned to FRx Software's Microsoft Business Solutions for Analytics ­ Forecaster budgeting and planning application to help keep our business performance on track all year long. With Forecaster's built-in accounting intelligence, our team was able to immediately improve collaboration, automate complex calculations and produce more accurate budget plans. With Forecaster, crew chiefs, department managers and the accounting staff can create comprehensive company-wide projections or individual project budgets within a few hours, as opposed to several days. Forecaster's security, consolidation and roll-up features ensure numbers are accurate, with the speed we need to meet tight deadlines.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With Forecaster's collaboration functionality, we can keep all our managers up to date on the latest budget developments; and departments can drill-down to learn how numbers were generated and understand how their budgets are affected. With HMS' six-week budget cycle, we previously struggled with multiple budget plans floating around, often producing inaccurate numbers and analysis. Forecaster offers e- mail notifications and reminders to streamline the process. Security options help route sensitive information and ensure that our business leaders have the information they need to make accurate decisions.

STRENGTHS: FRx Software's Web-based, familiar architecture is key. People can review the current budget plan and make revision from the office, home or on the road. Forecaster is also easy to learn and use, giving non-financial people more insight and control over their departmental budgets.

WEAKNESSES: Graphing and charting of budget data must be done via export to Excel.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We needed a flexible solution that had the ability to create, revise and distribute both consolidated and project budgets quickly. We looked for a solution that would complement Microsoft Business Solutions for Analytics / FRx and encourage increased accountability and thoughtful participation in the budget planning process.

DELIVERABLES: With Forecaster, we shortened our budget cycle by 60 days and realized a 50 percent reduction in budgeting and planning time. With Forecaster, we can easily access current and historical data from financial reports to create accurate and flexible budgets and plans. With more time and resources available, our team can analyze current market trends and make adjustments throughout the year to help HMS meet its organizational goals.

VENDOR SUPPORT: FRx Software's support staff is generally helpful, and they respond to our questions quickly. They often suggest new ways to customize our plans to get the most out of our implementation.

DOCUMENTATION: The implementation and learning process was very simple. FRx Software provided clear, concise materials to get us up and running. One FRx support person helped us to implement Forecaster, and within five days we were creating our first budgets.

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