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How SUEZ WTS moved hundreds of workflows in 6 months

Formerly General Electric Water, SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions (WTS) is one of the world’s most experienced providers of water and wastewater technologies, services and support.

Following their acquisition by the SUEZ group, WTS faced a challenge that was different from anything they’d attempted before: a massive workflow migration. They migrated hundreds of workflows from their previous system to the Nintex Platform in the space of only six months.

Big changes in the pipeline

“A working day equals a calendar day from now on.” – Gerard Van Kempen, CIO, SUEZ WTE

In October 2017, General Electric sold its water and process technologies business to the French SUEZ group as SUEZ WTS. Their transfer service agreements (TSA) covered a transition period for up to 18 months, and by the end of that – April 2019 – hundreds of workflows needed to be migrated from SupportCentral, the legacy workflow platform that General Electric used, into Nintex Workflow for Office 365.

The new SUEZ WTE was rebuilding the IT services of 10,000 people operating in 72 countries, across data centers, cloud platforms, and wide-area networks, spanning over 400 business applications. Part of this infrastructure included 411 vital workflows the employees relied on. To illustrate how integral the workflows were, they had been run 65,000 times in the 12 months prior to the transition.

These workflows all needed to be rebuilt from scratch, with a very challenging budget and timeframe.

Making the impossible possible

Although the clock was ticking to get the move underway, Gerard and his team ensured that the discovery phase wasn’t neglected. They contacted workflow designers throughout the organization to discover which of the workflows were critical and which were not: “What can we throw away before we move house?” was the sentiment across the team.

Once they’d identified the workflows that demanded to be rebuilt, they needed to define who would build them. To do this, they recruited 100+ power users within the organization.

These power users would self-migrate the workflows, become the go-to person for their team or location during the workflow migration, and become the in-house innovation collaboration specialist afterward.

As Gerard put it: “We’re building a community that will last once we’re done with this whole migration, and that’s what will actually allow us to leverage this new platform.”

Their intention wasn’t to create a team merely to accomplish the project, but to support its success long term. They wanted these users to take ownership of their workflows and of their new workflow tool and be able to use it to keep on performing maintenance and making improvements.

Crunch time

By the time they were ready to begin the actual workflow migration, the deadline was only six months away. SUEZ WTE enlisted Hub Collab, a Nintex Premier Partner in France, to assist with the project. Hub Collab was struck by the complexity of some of the workflows to be migrated — some containing more than 60 human tasks.

Much of the time, the complexity was because the workflows were to be rolled out globally but also required regional tailoring. As the workflows spanned four continents and 12 countries, that meant a lot of nuances to navigate and implement.

Hub Collab reduced the workflow design time by creating a Microsoft Excel template that could be imported into the Nintex Platform. It was intended to be used by anybody to create complex workflows very quickly, typically in one day. And it was designed to be used autonomously by power users after three days of training. They called it “the ultimate workflow template.”

Once this template was imported into Nintex Workflow for Office 365, the workflow could be created by the power user with minimal technical work required. This process needed to be as fast and simple as possible, as it would be repeated across the project’s many workflows.

Automate, automate, automate

To streamline workflow creation, Hub Collab and SUEZ WTE used the Nintex platform itself. Their mantra was “automate everything that could be automated.” Workflows and automation were used to guide the team of power users through the steps and assist them in playing their parts.

“The users were starting to get really involved. They were seeing that it was working.” – Alex Joly, CEO, Hub Collab.

This was crucial in engaging the SUEZ WTE power users who would later become in-house champions, evangelists and go-to people in terms of the organization’s new workflows and workflow platform. After all, these people were crucial not only to the project’s success but also to the foundation they were building for a future of process excellence.