Briggs & Stratton Harnesses Operational Data

by SAS Staff

As the world's largest manufacturer of air-cooled gasoline engines, Briggs & Stratton powers lawn equipment, pressure washers and generators for thousands of original equipment manufacturers around the world – including Campbell Hausfeld, John Deere, Craftsman and Toro. But when it comes to setting the stage for advanced data warehousing and state-of-the-art business intelligence, Briggs & Stratton turns to SAS.

Grant Felsing
Decision Support Manager

A SAS customer for nearly 20 years, Briggs & Stratton has a long history of using SAS to transform operational data into strategic intelligence. "Even though we have disparate pieces of software that actually operate the business, including SAP R/3 and Oracle, we use SAS for our business intelligence endeavors," says Grant Felsing, the company’s decision support manager.

Led by Felsing, the IT department began building its data warehousing infrastructure in 1988; by 1995, SAS software supported 15 extract engines and more than 4,000 reports. In 1998, Briggs & Stratton invested in SAP R/3, but the new ERP system essentially wiped out its entire reporting infrastructure. Felsing again turned to SAS.

While SAP R/3 updated the company’s operational environment and removed the bulk of its legacy systems, it also removed most of the sources for the company’s advanced data warehouse. The legacy systems had contained not only the data management component but also the accumulated programming layers unique to Briggs & Stratton. Because the company had come to rely on daily access to this information, it had to reacquire all of its business intelligence as quickly as possible.

"SAS, as a company, really stepped up to the plate for us to resolve the situation," says Felsing. "We moved from a legacy mainframe environment to Unix-based servers, and SAS added the insight and business reporting we needed on top of SAP R/3 to make the system complete." Now, Felsing says his team can concentrate on providing executives with a more strategic level of information.

Informing Executives, Empowering Managers

According to Felsing, SAS takes data from dozens of operational sources throughout the company and uses that information to tell a story. "With SAS, we're not just presenting rows and columns; we're presenting a complete story that will inform executives."

Using SAS, Felsing’s team created an executive management system that presents high-level business intelligence in a scorecard format. "The corporate scoreboard is a single place where executives can go to see where we are today compared to where we were at the same point last year," he explains. Everything is delivered with SAS graphics and SAS reports; executives select and modify reports, so they can recognize very quickly when an unusual or unexpected event has occurred.

Using SAS, Felsing’s team also has developed a system for tracking historical information and monitoring quality trends, facilities operations and failure rates for each engine series. This sophisticated quality improvement application automatically flags potential areas of concern and sends e-mails to notify managers and executives when problems may be emerging.

Early-warning alerts like these help managers address potential concerns before they affect thousands of customers. In fact, Felsing says the manufacturing team was able to identify and address a million-dollar quality issue as soon as the SAS application was implemented. "Identifying that one problem at such an early stage in production may have saved us more than $1 million alone, and that’s just the tactical savings. Without SAS, our managers wouldn’t have had the ability to pinpoint the problem for at least four more months."

The strategic benefits – such as fewer warranty claims and enhanced customer satisfaction – can be even more important than the immediate financial gains, explains Felsing. "Finding problems early not only helps the bottom line," he says, "but it helps you with your entire customer satisfaction level. And there really isn't anything more important to our company."

The SAS quality solution also has fostered newfound collaboration between plant managers and corporate managers. "This is something that they can both get excited about," says Felsing. "SAS helps pick problems off the line and shows them what to fix, giving plant managers a lot of power."

Uses of SAS

Whether developing analytic applications, early-warning systems or executive dashboards, Felsing is confident that SAS will always provide the solutions that meet his requirements.

"With SAS, I’m able to do anything my company needs very quickly and inexpensively," he says. "SAS puts me in the position to draw on a very high level of expertise, and the quality of the software is an enormous benefit to me and to Briggs & Stratton. Because of our partnership with SAS, I've been able to serve my company at a level that I would not be able to with any other platform."

Briggs & Stratton is implementing the SAS Enterprise BI Server, putting critical information in the hands of users throughout the organization. SAS provides executives and managers at Briggs & Stratton with vital information necessary for better decision making. The result is higher-quality work and more informed workers throughout the company, which leads to happier customers and greater profitability.

"The SAS Enterprise BI Server has greatly narrowed the gap between data and users in our organization by providing consistent data across the board for many of our operational managers and users throughout the world," says Felsing. "SAS BI is fast, accurate and consistent so our executives and those who make decisions here can have great confidence in the intelligence at their fingertips."

Felsing said he did not evaluate other business intelligence tools or platforms on the market. "We have a great relationship with SAS, and honestly, there’s nothing else out there quite like SAS’ business intelligence and analytics platform," he says. "I don’t know of any user whatsoever that isn’t pleased with SAS."

SAS Enterprise BI Server, a major component of the SAS Intelligence Platform, creates an integrated enterprise architecture that empowers users at all skill levels and geographic locations with targeted interfaces to support their individual needs and skills. SAS Enterprise BI Server provides a suite of enterprisewide ad hoc query and reporting capabilities, and applies the power of SAS analytics and data management to create an easy-to-use platform.

Global Reporting, Reduced Costs

Briggs & Stratton, based out of Wauwatosa, WI, employs 1,000 users that are identified for the distribution of reports across the company, from accounting to engineering to service and operations control. More than 50 are hands-on information producers using SAS, according to Felsing.

"SAS BI allowed us to consolidate our information assets and deliver it globally to our manufacturing offices – particularly North America, China and Europe – in a report that’s easy for our non-technical users, and all on one single BI platform," says Felsing. "It’s given us a global reach with reporting on a level we’ve never had before."

Felsing also points to other business benefits associated with the SAS Enterprise BI Server. "We have certainly seen reduced costs and reduced stress in many of our employees, thanks to easy access and easy-to-use user interfaces, operational links to Web services and advanced analytical capabilities boiled down for us. SAS is certainly making an impact on our operational managers across the company. With SAS, I’m able to do anything my company needs quickly and inexpensively."

"Briggs & Stratton’s ability to streamline its operations and allow greater numbers of non-IT employees to access critical information and reports on a worldwide scale speaks to the success of our integrated business intelligence offering," says Rob Stephens, director of technology strategy at SAS. "The SAS Enterprise BI Server is designed to allow IT fast, simple, accurate and consistent access to important data, analysis, and reports that ensure accuracy and reliability for the business users. We’re pleased that a reputable establishment like Briggs & Stratton is demonstrating success using SAS Business Intelligence to drive confident decisions and impact for the company."

About Briggs & Stratton

Briggs & Stratton is the world's largest producer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services these engines for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) worldwide. The engines are incorporated into products as diverse as lawnmowers, generators, pressure washers, pumps and welders, as well as many industrial/commercial applications. Briggs & Stratton products are designed, manufactured, marketed, and serviced in over 100 countries on all seven continents. The corporate office is in Wauwatosa, WI at 12301 W. Wirth. Check

About SAS

SAS Institute was founded and incorporated in Raleigh, N.C. in 1976. SAS solutions are used at 40,000 sites – including 96 of the top 100 companies on the FORTUNE Global 500® – to develop more profitable relationships with customers and suppliers; to enable better, more accurate and informed decisions; and to drive organizations forward. SAS integrates data warehousing, analytics and traditional BI applications to create intelligence from massive amounts of data. For nearly three decades, SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® . Check

Some Questions for Further Analysis and Discussion

  1. How does SAS® "power executive decision making with advanced analytics, dashboards, and early warnings?"
  2. Overall, was SAS used to create a Data-driven Decision Support System or an integrated Information System? Why or why not?
  3. What decision support technologies were used? Why?
  4. What is the major benefit of using SAS rather than a tool like Excel for providing analytical information to decision makers? Why?
  5. How does management know which software vendor to select?
  6. What are the key IS/T challenges in manufacturing? Today? Five years hence?
  7. What problems or difficulties do you anticipate with the use of this type of decision support solution?
  8. Do you see any strategic issues or potential problems for Briggs & Stratton resulting from its dependence on SAP and SAS?

Please cite as:

SAS Staff, "Briggs & Stratton Harnesses Operational Data", December 2, 2005 at URL DSSResources.COM.

Bill Rose, SAS Media Relations, provided permission to use the SAS case study material at on August 23, 2005. Check and This edited version was posted at DSSResources.COM on Friday, December 2, 2005.

This case study is provided for informational purposes only. DSSResources.COM makes no warranties, express or implied, about this case summary. SAS® is a registered trademark.