Dual-Track Transformation: How Enel Green Power North America Enables Rapid-Cycle Innovation to Extend Legacy Systems

Perspectives
Aug 31, 2020
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7 Min Read

As part of a global renewable energy company, Enel Green Power relies heavily on legacy systems as their central enterprise system. To support their operations, the company has implemented large scale digital transformation efforts by modernizing, unifying, and streamlining digital solutions on a global scale. 

These grand scale digital transformation efforts and global initiatives are critically important. But for Enel Green Power North America, sometimes the global initiatives don’t extend to all of their processes.  

To fill those gaps for which there may not be a global solution, Enel North America has embraced a dual-track approach to digital transformation. This dual-track allows for those more traditional transformation efforts to continue while simultaneously implementing rapid-cycle innovation.  

Rapid-cycle innovation enables employees outside IT to quickly develop solutions to rapidly adapt their workflows. Low-code platforms like Quick Base enable those closest to the work, typically outside of IT, to rapidly develop custom applications.  

Embracing Low-Code

Randald Bartlett, Senior Director O&M Improvement of Enel Green Power North America, is always looking for an innovative way to rapidly streamline processes, like interdepartmental communication and asset tracking, to increase efficiency. These rapid-cycle innovations may not require a full-scale transformation but are still areas where improvements can be made. 

As part of that rapid-cycle innovation effort, Bartlett has continued to turn to Quick Base to supplement the company’s large-scale ERP systems 

The challenge [with ERP systems] is it can be very difficult to change and modify locally,” he said. “Some of the ways we use Quick Base are to supplement our ERP system … Instead of bringing in a consultant and trying to make changes to our ERP system, we are able to locally just build add-ons and applications that support that process.” 

Now, everything from outage management to technical support, purchasing, and compliance tracking is done in Quick Base in an ever-expanding footprint of applications. Bartlett’s team was also able to quickly build a COVID-19 application to track cases, assets, and state and local shutdown and reopening orders.   

Other applications aim to improve interdepartmental communication. Instead of using email or Excel spreadsheets to communicate across the company’s diverse geographic footprint across North America, Bartlett’s team has built several applications to streamline various processes 

We can track compliance type items, to do lists, or project management tasks, due dates,” Bartlett said. “As we think of new ideas, like this existing process is inefficient or could be better to manage, it always comes back to we can build an app in QB that can improve that.  

Adding Agility to Legacy Systems

With Quick Base, Bartlett said, his team has been able to add a layer of agility on top of their ERP systems without having to bring in a consultant, which is often time-consuming and costly. This has helped give back some of the control to the local departments. 

 We do all our own development in house, with no formal training,” Bartlett said. It’s a friendly system that allows us to build these very quickly. And taking that agile approach at times we will get an application up and running and then continuously make improvements to it. 

Previously it was just the teams within operations and maintenance that used Quick Base. After a cross department learning session though, Bartlett said there was “an explosion of ideas” from employees across departments.  

You don’t have to be a programmer or software engineer to build in there,” he said. “The value of Quick Base is being able to have that local control. 

Bartlett said that while Quick Base offers a simple way for those without a software background to build custom applications, it hasn’t replaced the need for ERP systems or the IT department. Instead, Bartlett sat down with the head of the IT department to explain how Quick Base has helped them move more quickly and be more agile and flexible.  

The shocker for him was when I said we had never used a consultant,” he said. “That was the eye-opening thing for him because if we wanted to do those things in our ERP system we would spend a fortune modifying it. It would take a very long time and so having the ability to improve your efficiency of various processes without having to hire a consultant and spend a lot of money and time I think is very valuable.” 

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