Case study: Taking technology into the water of Hawke's Bay
Workplace technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade and with growing capabilities, employee expectations for the functionality of their tools have changed.
This is the situation scientists at New Zealand’s Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) had with their IT team when the inconvenience and inefficiency of manual, paper and pen field data captured while knee deep in water became apparent.
Every day, HBRC scientists are out in the field gathering many water samples from our lakes, rivers and beaches across a wide range of locations around the region.
“Previously our field staff used paper-based forms to collect data, which meant they’d have to take paper forms out in the field and fill them out as they went which can be difficult based on weather conditions,” says HBRC business improvement analyst, Anthony Gouder. “They would then have to bring those forms back to the office to manually transpose the data into our backend database systems.”
Brian Walshe, vice president of Asia Pacific (APAC) sales at Nintex affirms that there were a number of issues that came from this process, particularly the accuracy of the data.
“The time it took to get back to the office, the process of changing the data from being written down before uploading it into the system and the weather all played a part in reducing the accuracy and increasing the difficulty of obtaining accurate data,” Walshe says.
Gouder knew that there had to be an easier, more efficient way of doing things, but he was yet to find a fitting solution. That is, until the 2013 SharePoint conference in Auckland where he came across Nintex.
“Of all the workflow automation tools, Nintex was by far the most user-friendly and relevant solution – basically exactly what we were looking for,” Gouder says. “Nintex has a very simple and easy-to-use interface, which means you don’t need any special developers or highly-skilled staff to be able to solve business problems.”
Walshe affirms this is essentially what the team at Nintex were after.
“That’s what we’ve focused on – workflow processing and automation – which is a low code/no code solution allowing organisations to automate their workflow processes easily and effectively without needing a huge project and room full of developers,” Walshe says.
In fact, the staff at HBRC who use Nintex range from their developers, business analyst’s to their record manager who all can use Nintex to deliver solutions to meet their business requirements - there is no specialised skillset required to be able to deliver business solutions.
"What Nintex was able to do through our Nintex forms, mobile and workflow technology was set up a system for HBRC that enables their field workers to take mobile devices with them out into the field, get the information from the sensors or the tests that they’re running in the waterways and rivers, and record all that into a mobile form which can then kick off workflows within the business to trigger report requests or different actions that the council needed to do within those particular waterways,” Walshe says.
The automation of the processes has seen the end of manual paper forms for HBRC scientists.
“They can fill in the form digitally out in the field and provided they’re within range, they can send that data straight into our backing systems - if they’re not in range, Nintex will hold that data on the device until they are within range where it will send automatically,” Gouder says.
Another benefit of the Nintex system is the visibility of the information and data between employees.
“The workers in the Science team are preparing a lot of reports, and because of Nintex, instead of having to do one after another, they can now collaborate concurrently,” says Walshe. “Before it was a very tedious process, but now everyone has the same visibility and each stakeholder can update along the way, before sharing that data across the team.”
What’s more, Nintex can provide tailored solutions.
“Nintex is essentially a workflow and forms engine, so it is not one-size-fits-all,” Walshe says. "The technology can be applied to any type of industry, but essentially we give the customer a blank canvas to create the business forms and the workflows that are tailored to their specific requirements.”
Walshe affirms that as Nintex has done with Hawke's Bay, they can help other organisations move their manual processes to automated, digital workflows.
“A lot of the time you don’t need to have incredibly complex workflows,” Walshe says. “There are very simple processes that you do today that are manual that we can automate – with huge benefits.”
In fact, HBRC has saved almost 300 hours with automating the one workflow process of collecting water quality samples over the 5 month summer period, with other significant savings achieved across all our automated processes across the organisation to date.
“Having these systems in place compresses the time it takes to get the information out to the public,” Gouder says. “I would definitely recommend Nintex to other organisations as the key thing is it is just so easy to use, you don’t need any special skill-sets to use it and you can deliver business solutions in hours, not days, weeks, months or even years!”