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Engineering Firm Creates Digital Disruption with Process Automation

By Elantis on January 25, 2021
Process Automation

Williams Engineering Canada leverages process automation to digitally transform its business, improve productivity, and free-up employees to do higher value work.

Business Situation:

Seeking to further digitally transform its business, WEC wanted a process automation tool to drive greater efficiencies and free employees to focus on innovation and customer service.

Solution:

Using Nintex Forms and Workflow, WEC has successfully digitized and automated critical HR and safety processes to improve standardization and productivity across the business.

Benefits:

Up to fifteen minutes saved per submission of job hazard assessment.
Thousands of hours in productivity saved annually.
Improved data accuracy, reporting, and compliance.
Centralized and standardized processes as foundation to continuous improvements.

Disrupt or be Disrupted

In March 2020, Williams Engineering Canada (WEC), like companies all over the world, quickly transitioned to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a disruption that WEC had spent the last two years preparing for, only it wasn’t the disruption they were anticipating.

“We had been preparing for a market disruption in the form of new players entering the market and leveraging digital tools in completely new ways, unencumbered by decades of legacy systems,” shares Santiago Gomez, Digital Transformation Director at Williams Engineering Canada. “We asked ourselves, ‘how do we disrupt our own business, so we don’t get disrupted,’ and we realized that a big part of the answer was around digital platforms and our innovation stack.”

Founded over 40 years ago, Williams Engineering Canada is a multidisciplinary firm offering consulting engineering services for new construction and existing building projects. The company’s 180 employees are based out of offices in Western Canada.

Gomez knew it was imperative to look at all areas of WEC’s business to enable successful digital transformation. WEC wanted to focus on process automation to give people valuable time back for more purposeful, higher-value work to enhance quality and customer service. Driving standardization and efficiency was key.

Realizing that some IT functions weren’t key differentiators in the minds of its customers, WEC also began rethinking their approach to IT. The economics of attracting and retaining top-level technology talent can be a challenge. There is a high demand for software developers, cloud computing experts, and data scientists, not just at traditional tech companies, but also in retail, finance, and government. To succeed in implementing their multi-year digital transformation strategy, they needed agility and scalability.

Giving Back Creativity

WEC decided to take a non-traditional approach to its IT functions. The company began migrating its information and processes to the cloud and outsourcing IT projects to technology partners. The outsourced model allowed Gomez to focus on WEC’s overall digital transformation strategy and change management. Still, the model was just one piece of the puzzle – WEC needed a solution
for process automation to drive greater efficiencies.

“We wanted our people to have more time for creativity and cognitive work, rather than spend their valuable time filling out forms,” shares Gomez. “We want people free to focus on innovation and customer service because this creates direct value for our clients.”

After hearing about Nintex from one of their technology partners, Gomez attended the 2018 Nintex user conference to learn more. He quickly realized that leveraging Nintex for process automation, with the help of Nintex partner Elantis Solutions Inc., could help WEC achieve their digital transformation goals.

Gomez identified the perfect first process to introduce Nintex to WEC – the company’s vacation request form. Working with Elantis, WEC automated the company’s vacation request form and approval process. Once it was rolled out, the need for Nintex was evident right away.

“I’ve never seen adoption pick up so quickly,” shares Gomez. “We started seeing vacation requests come through and get approved very quickly, and every time the process worked as intended. There was no guesswork involved. We knew we could bring the same usability and standardization to other processes, all inside the same easy-to-use platform.”

Following the success of the vacation request form, Elantis helped WEC completely transform critical HR processes into one cohesive application using Nintex Forms and Nintex Workflow. Elantis digitized HR forms for on-boarding/off-boarding, probation review, training, and development reimbursement, leave of absence, and more. The forms are accessible from a centralized dashboard on SharePoint, personalized to each employee, and backed by 19 Nintex Workflows that assign tasks and automate reminders.

Ensuring Safety

At the 2018 Nintex user conference, Gomez attended a session where New Zealand construction firm Naylor Love shared how they use Nintex to digitize and automate safety processes at their job sites. The session inspired one of the next processes Elantis automated with Nintex – WEC’s job hazard assessment.

WEC is committed to ensuring a strong safety program to protect its staff and the teams they work with. Its safety program includes various forms that were previously all completed on paper or an editable PDF. In addition to being time-consuming, the paper-based process also created tracking and reporting challenges as forms were not always stored correctly.

“The Nintex solution checked all the boxes.”

– Santiago Gomez, Digital Transformation Director
Williams Engineering Canada

WEC’s safety coordinator and Gomez worked with Elantis to automate their job hazard assessment and incident investigation processes with Nintex. Using Nintex Forms, Nintex Workflow and Nintex App Studio, Elantis created a fully customized and automated solution, eliminating the need for paper forms.

“We wanted to give people the ability to quickly enter the information right from the work site using their mobile devices and remain connected to the enterprise’s systems of record. The Nintex solution checked all the boxes,” shares Gomez.

Agile, Mobile Automation Solution

Nintex allows employees to submit the necessary safety forms from their phones, on and offline, and the information is directly routed to the required stakeholders. The forms can provide geolocation data, pre-fill specific fields, and allow photos to be attached, making the process as simple as possible while generating lots of rich, accurate content.

Job hazard assessment forms may need to be completed up to three times a day, per person. The Nintex solution can save employees up to 15 minutes each time. WEC estimates the solution will save its people thousands of hours annually. The process automation has also improved WEC’s data accuracy and reporting, ensuring compliance with safety standards and regulations.

“Many companies were not prepared to deal with the pandemic, but with Nintex, we had a critical part of our digital infrastructure already in place to be able to respond. It was amazingly simple.”

— Santiago Gomez, Digital Transformation Director
Williams Engineering Canada

Best of all, making updates to the forms is easy. When WEC needed to update its safety forms to include fields related to COVID-19, all they had to do was add the necessary questions to the form and SharePoint list, and publish it.

“Many companies were not prepared to deal with the pandemic, but with Nintex, we had a critical part of our digital infrastructure already in place to be able to respond. It was amazingly simple,” says Gomez.

Digital-Forward Approach Pays Off

WEC had no way of knowing that COVID-19 would be the disruption they were preparing for, but thanks to their digital transformation efforts with Nintex and IT partners like Elantis, they
were ready.

“Everything just worked. Our team members and customers were grateful that in the midst of a pandemic, and all the challenges that it brought, they didn’t have to worry about our IT systems failing,” shares Gomez.

As more employees and teams have seen the power and impact of Nintex, the demand continues to grow across WEC. Since implementing Nintex, WEC is expanding and improving its automation solutions by building process dashboards and leveraging Nintex Promapp to democratize continuous process improvement.

WEC is proud of how far they have come on their digital transformation journey and credits much of the success to their digital-forward approach.

“You don’t have to be a big company to digitally transform your business. Many small and medium size businesses hear ‘digital transformation’ and think they don’t have the skills or resources. However, with partners like Elantis, and no-code solutions like Nintex, transformation is possible,” adds Gomez.

“Many small and medium size businesses hear ‘digital transformation’ and think they don’t have the skills or resources. However, with partners like Elantis, and no-code solutions like Nintex, transformation is possible.”

— Santiago Gomez, Digital Transformation Director
Williams Engineering Canada

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