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Nintex Workflows: Central to the Amazon Way

Amazon has changed the world, disrupting how people purchase nearly every kind of product. On its way to exceeding $200 billion in revenues last year, the pioneering online retailer enabled the proliferation of many thousands of others who succeeded by following Amazon’s playbook.

Nintex recognized Amazon as a Nintex Champion for 2019 earlier in October at our first-ever user training conference, Nintex ProcessFest.

In a presentation to the 250+ Nintex customers and partners at ProcessFest, Dave Berrier, Senior Program Manager of Amazon’s Worldwide ACES (Amazon Customer Excellence System) Group, explained that the company relies on a tool it built called Amazon Projects to manage its many internal projects effectively — and that Nintex plays a key role.

“We’re relying on Nintex for every aspect of project management. Nintex really is the Amazon Way.”
– Dave Berrier, Senior Program Manager, Amazon

The Nintex & Amazon way

Customer obsession, improving processes, and delivering results are key components of both the Amazon Way overall and of Amazon Projects, he said.

For example, the development and launch of a new device involves at least 34 teams whose activities must be carefully coordinated, he said. Or consider the revolutionary Amazon Go stores, where the customer comes in, picks the items they want, and walks out — no lines, no physical checkout.

“Imagine the kind of work that went into creating that kind of buying experience — how many separate elements were required to be strung together to allow people to shop in such a revolutionary way,” Berrier said.

Many companies rely too much on Excel and email to manage projects, in part because they’re so handy, and familiar. They’re right there on your taskbar.

It’s easy to launch a spreadsheet, create a great project plan, attach it to an email, and send it out with a request to keep it up to date. But that method doesn’t scale, for a variety of familiar reasons that might be summed up in two words: version control.

To gain control of its processes, Berrier said, Amazon needed “a collection of tools to plan, approve, control and report on projects. It needed to be adaptable, so any group could use it by configuring it to follow their business practices. It had to be off-the-shelf — a no-code solution, so that non-technical teams could use it without IT support. It had to be on-premise, behind the Amazon firewall.”

Amazon Projects is built on Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration, BrightWork for metrics and web parts, and Nintex for process automation. Its functional components are task lists, issue logs, and status update reports that together provide a framework for storing project information — configurable by each team, but consistent enough that projects can be evaluated against the same standards, measuring apples to apples.

“We decide what we need to see. We can choose how it’s sorted, grouped, and filtered. We can create any number of reports — open work, open issues, closed issues, custom reports, custom queries — without any coding or script writing. This has been a game changer.”

Built for process

The only way such a project management system can work is if it’s is built to follow the process, but defining the process is often difficult.

“We need to take a messy, all-in-my-head vision of what happened and replace it with well-defined steps to move from the very first action to the very last. But how do we connect it?”

“We selected Nintex for automation because it’s easy to use. We can look at our entire portfolio of automation to see where workflows are in play, and how often they fire. This helps us to assess the true savings small automation improvements can make.”
– Dave Berrier, Senior Program Manager, Amazon

Last year, Amazon completed more than 4.1 million workflows, a number that probably will double this year, Berrier said.

Amazon Projects delivers three core benefits, he said: It’s easy to adopt and use (so people actually use it); it makes project management consistent; and as they use it, people discover ways to improve their processes — without relying on IT.

“Finally, because we’re often replacing very manual processes — copy and paste, starting from scratch every time — we see enormous gains in productivity,” he said.

“It’s very common to experience an 800% reduction in the cost of managing a project from end to end.”

In fact, he said, the company just finished a study and documented that it had achieved 1300% ROI.

“It’s a no-brainer. Adding Nintex to Amazon Projects has been the best addition we’ve made. It helps us provide an excellent customer experience, it allows teams to invent and simplify their own processes, and ultimately deliver results faster and at a lower cost.”
– Dave Berrier, Senior Program Manager, Amazon

 

Warren Wilson

Warren Wilson is Sr. Manager of Corporate Communications at Nintex. He works directly with news reporters and industry analysts worldwide to share the value of the Nintex Platform and is responsible for leading and developing the company’s thought leadership content. Before Nintex, Warren was an analyst with London-based Ovum, primarily covering enterprise application suites, and a journalist with several US newspapers.