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Posted: 5/30/2012
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Polaris Industries Off-Road Vehicle Manufacturer Is Creating a Self-Serve BI System to Boost Product Quality

Polaris Industries, a pioneer in the snowmobile industry, is one of the world’s largest off-road vehicle manufacturers. To help it achieve its commitment to quality, Polaris required an easier system to monitor warranty claims and other data to spot and resolve quality issues swiftly. It is deploying a new warranty reporting system using the Power View feature of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 to gain self-service business intelligence.

Business Needs

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles, Polaris Industries generated revenue of U.S.$2.7 billion in 2011. The company, which has 3,600 employees and more than 1,600 dealers, is a leader in the snowmobile industry, and its Victory motorcycle division, established in 1998, builds the first all-new, American-made motorcycle in nearly 60 years.

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* We set our users loose using SQL Server 2012 Power View against the PowerPivot data sources and were impressed by the reports they generated. Power View and PowerPivot are great analytical tools, and they promote easy self-service BI.  *

Michael Wissink
Business Intelligence Developer
Polaris Industries

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The company’s motto, which is etched in steel at the entrance of all of the company’s locations, reads: “Understand the riding experience. Live the riding experience. Work to make it better.”

As part of its efforts to live by that motto, the company has long monitored information from its dealer warranty claims and manufacturing operations to detect and swiftly resolve issues that could affect product quality.

Initially the data was compiled by IT personnel running queries against databases and copying results into Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software to create weekly reports. Data was collected from a number of sources including the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) data hosted on an IBM AS/400 system, and its customer relationship management (CRM) solution that was created using Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

In 2010, Polaris sought to further automate its monitoring process and make it easier to work with by creating what it calls its Warranty Reporting system. Warranty Reporting was implemented using a QlikView business intelligence (BI) and reporting application, which drew most of its information from a SQL Server 2000 database containing warranty data.

The Warranty Reporting system, which Polaris considers to be mission-critical, proved so popular that internal users sought new ways to use it. “The teams that used our Warranty Reporting system the most came up with a list of requested enhancements,” says Shirley Zierke, Director of Information Technology at Polaris. “They wanted to bring in data from additional sources and add features that were either not possible or not easy to implement with QlikView. We needed a solution that would make it easier to pull all of this information together.”

Solution

Working with GNet Group, Polaris began searching for the best platform for its next iteration of the Warranty Reporting system. GNet Group, which was a 2011 Microsoft BI Partner of the Year finalist, helped Polaris conduct a proof-of-concept project testing SQL Server 2012 Enterprise data management software as a BI platform.

The proof of concept included using the Power View feature of SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services. Power View is a self-service BI reporting tool that facilitates ad hoc data queries. Also included in the proof of concept was Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel, which can be used to create cube-like analytics against a database.

Based on the success of the proof-of-concept demonstration, Polaris has begun planning for a new Warranty Reporting solution that will replace QlikView with Microsoft BI technology. The new solution will take advantage of Power View and PowerPivot for Excel to provide a self-service BI experience that can be used throughout the company.

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 will be used to store and share data drawn from the Warranty Reporting system. Prior to launching the new system, Polaris will create an operational data store using SQL Server 2012 Enterprise. Polaris plans to host its solution using HP ProLiant BL460 G7 server computers.

The company also plans to upgrade its SQL Server 2000 database to SQL Server 2012 Enterprise, running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system later in the year

Benefits

By taking advantage of SQL Server 2012 BI technology, Polaris Industries will be providing knowledge workers with self-service BI and faster access to data, and, as a result, product quality will be enhanced.

Gains Self-Service BI

Polaris values the simple user experience that Power View and PowerPivot provide. “We chose SQL Server 2012 and Power View because of the self-service ease of use,” Zierke says. “We want to give our people a self-service solution because they are the ones who are working with the information every day.”

Zierke’s group was impressed by what the company’s analysts were able to do when given a look at the new Microsoft BI technology. “We set our users loose using SQL Server 2012 Power View against the PowerPivot data sources and were impressed by the reports they generated,” says Michael Wissink, Business Intelligence Developer at Polaris Industries. “Power View and PowerPivot are great analytical tools, and they promote easy self-service BI.”

Provides Faster Access to Data

Users will gain faster access to the data they need because of the ease with which they will be able to perform their own analytics and create their own reports.

“We don’t want IT to be the bottleneck when analysts and engineers seek information,” Zierke says. “People shouldn’t have to wait for IT to create a new report. We want them to be able to slice and dice the data and create reports however and whenever they need.”

Enhances Product Quality

The new Warranty Reporting solution will help Polaris in its commitment to quality. “This system we built using SQL Server 2012 will help us react more quickly to address a newly identified problem in the field,” says Pat McArdle, Service Engineer at Polaris. “It also helps us to resolve the issue for the next vehicles we build, so they are always getting better.”

Sameer Gurav, Quality Engineer at Polaris, adds: “Ideally our Warranty Reporting system will be used by everyone in engineering. We want everyone to be able to benefit from this source of information.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 4700 employees

Organization Profile

Polaris Industries is world-renowned for its off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, and motorcycles. Headquartered in Medina, Minnesota, Polaris sells through a network of more than 1,600 dealers.


Hardware
  • HP ProLiant BL460 G7 server computers

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel

Vertical Industries
Automotive, Industrial Equipment & Aerospace

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Business Intelligence and Reporting
  • Mission Critical
  • Business Critical

Languages
English

Partner(s)
GNet Group Microsoft Services

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