Ford Motor Company
Information Builders is one of the
largest independent software
companies in the world. We work
with over 11,000 customers to
ensure their success by putting
interactive and actionable information
in the hands of everyone in the
extended enterprise: employees,
partners, suppliers, and customers.
Thanks to the team headed by Jim Lollar, Ford’s Warranty Systems Design Manager,
more than 5,000 Ford dealers can quickly identify and resolve warranty repairs and
Ford Motor Company, manufacturer
of the best-selling car and the best- claims problems.
selling truck in the world.
Help over 48,000 employees
WebFOCUS Draws the Picture
at more than 5,000 dealers,
warranty specialists, and warranty
for Ford’s Warranty Business
consultants quickly identify and
resolve problems with warranty
repair and claim trends.
“Legacy” is a word with a mixed reputation in the information
Move from print to Web reports by technology industry. To Year 2000 experts, it conjures up lines of
converting a mainframe-based code to be scanned and remediated. To Jim Lollar, North American
tabular report written in COBOL and Warranty Systems Design Manager for Ford Motor Company, it
other critical mainframe-based means, among other things, the 126 Report, which has landed on the
reports to Web-based reports.
desks of Ford dealerships for the last two decades. It’s a neat,
The Results tabular summary of each dealership’s warranty record.
Cut more than $25 million a year
in costs as a by-product of fast Because a Ford dealer in rural Minnesota and one in urban Miami
and accurate delivery of information;
will sell a different mix of vehicles and experience different types of
enabled dealers to instantly identify
warranty anomalies and isolate warranty claims, the 126 Report doesn’t simply compare warranty
problems; leveraged 80 percent expenses. Instead, the report tells a dealership how its warranty-
of existing code for a quick claiming practices compare to those of other Ford dealers in the
implementation of the new system. same region, and identifies worrisome trends.
Information Builders Solution
The 126 Report is a form of “statistical process they can spot trends more easily, not all
control,” says Lollar. It uses the standard dealers have the time or resources to do that.
deviation, a way of determining what the
Lollar’s crew just made tracking warranty
“normal” range of deviation from the average
trends a whole lot easier, thanks to an
is, to measure the relative performance
innovative update of the 126 Report.
“We needed something that The new version isn’t on one sheet of paper.
Ford has defined six statistical standards to
could talk to disparate data It’s on the Web. It isn’t rows and rows of tables
determine how well a dealer is doing. If a
sources…. This really puts in plain text. It’s graphs and charts, big,
dealer’s standard deviation exceeds one or
us on the cutting edge.” colorful and usable: Click on a graph and you
more of those standards, the dealer will “set a
can drill down into the data, moving from the
condition” and is suggested for entry into
average cost of repairs or the number of
Ford’s Warranty Counseling Process. For
repairs per thousand vehicles, to charts and
example: If a dealer is more than three
data showing repairs by components, such as
standard deviations from average – and 99.7
engines, transmissions, suspensions, or
percent of dealers will fall within three
standard deviations – a warning condition is
set, and shown in the report. Most important, the big picture is clear
immediately. If a dealership’s warranty record
Since most of the alarms are triggered by
is out of line, or even starting to creep out of
problems in only a couple of areas of a
line, one or more elements of the graph will
dealer’s warranty work, fixing a few
show up as yellow or red, indicating that the
outstanding processes will usually bring a
dealer’s warranty record has exceeded
dealer’s warranty record back to normal, Lollar
says. If a dealership reads the 126 Report
carefully, it can, for example, find out if cars Building on a Legacy
are coming back because repairs weren’t done The tool that made this possible is Information
right the first time. Maybe, given a high Builders’ WebFOCUS, software with unique
incidence of ignition repairs, the shop needs capabilities to deliver what Ford needed.
more training on ignition systems. WebFOCUS turbocharged the 126 Report, and
yet kept the best parts of Ford’s information
Making Information Accessible
technology legacy intact.
The trouble, says Lollar, is that not everyone
reads the printed, tabular report carefully. For example, Ford’s dealer warranty
Most dealers have other important business information comprises more than 80 million
to worry about, such as selling cars. detailed records, spread across Oracle and
Teradata (from NCR) databases stored
“A dealer who loses focus on warranty
expense control may look at the warranty
trend report only when he gets in trouble,”
Lollar says sympathetically. “All dealers know
how it should run but it’s hard to keep your
eyes on all the balls.” Though Ford
recommends that dealers graph the data so
Ford Motor Company
In addition, the diagnostic reports and claims The Unique Powers of WebFOCUS “It’s been quite successful.
lists that supported the analysis were built Lollar considers WebFOCUS the only product We can literally draw a
with sophisticated code that Ford was that the team could find that met Ford’s needs picture for people, and they
reluctant to pull apart and rebuild. for Web-based warranty trend analysis. can explore the picture to
get the information
“There are about 139 modules in there, and “We needed something that could talk to they need.”
some of the logic had been working for 20 disparate data sources,” he says. “We wanted
years,” says Lollar. “Moving to another graphics and we wanted graphs that you
language would have probably taken two to could drill down into. We wanted to build
three years.” something so dealers wouldn’t have to back
up to previous pages on the Web, but could
With WebFOCUS, “we were able to save about
just keep drilling down into the data to get
80 percent of the code,” Lollar says.
what they wanted. This really puts us on the
The application only took about eight months cutting edge.”
to build and test. Built on the fourth-
The interactivity Ford wanted usually requires
generation programming language used by
special client software, but Ford wanted a
Information Builders’ FOCUS product,
product that dealers could use without putting
WebFOCUS presented Ford programmers with
any special software on their computers, and
a short learning curve, since they were already
that would work with the computers many
familiar with FOCUS. “They were ready to start
dealers already have. WebFOCUS was the
programming almost immediately,” Lollar says.
answer again, delivering powerful interactivity
Ford’s system design team occasionally but demanding no more of dealers than an
needed help from Information Builders while ordinary Web browser.
building their application, and that assistance
WebFOCUS delivers performance as well,
was easy to get, Lollar adds.
dipping into the huge database to pull out the
“They were very helpful,” he says. “The fact records, report the complex statistical
that it was started in April and for all practical calculations, and draw the graphs with their
purposes was ready in the fall – that’s six drill-down links – all within 60 to 90 seconds.
months’ or nine months’ turnaround for a full-
While the standard 126 Report is limited to
blown application – that’s not half bad.”
nine months of data and other limitations on
what it can display, the graphical version can
tackle up to 25 months of data, Lollar notes.
Another benefit for users: a simpler, yet more
flexible package. The original COBOL-based
reporting package relied on several separate
mainframe reports. With WebFOCUS, Ford’s
development team created a unified package
that gives field users one place to go for all
their reporting needs.