Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation, provides integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation, and software to its customers. To continue innovating for customers, Schneider needed more agility and efficiency in its business processes, capabilities, and operations, including smart and modern apps that could be developed, deployed, managed, and changed rapidly. With OutSystems, Schneider Electric transformed its IT landscape by setting up a “Low-Code Digital Factory” that produced more than 60 new apps in its first 20 months.
60 apps live in 20 months
Most apps completed in 10 weeks
650+ days of work saved in first year
“We saw a low-code platform as a catalyst to bridge the gap between business demands and the available IT resources. We chose OutSystems and now we have an engine in place that’s fueling digital transformation at Schneider Electric.”
Reining in Runaway Processes
Challenge - Schneider Electric is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation in homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure, and industries. In 2016, the company’s IT department initiated a program to replace its legacy and monolithic applications with next-gen technologies. As a result, they needed to redevelop several legacy apps rapidly without causing major disruption to underlying processes. At the time, Schneider discovered that their IT landscape was fragmented, with numerous instances of duplicate apps that used non-standard architecture and poor security practices. So, along with rapid development, establishing governance to manage the lifecycle and quality of applications was crucial.
After careful analysis, the team homed in on a low-code development platform as the solution to power and accelerate its digital transformation journey. The IT team looked at various low-code platforms in the market and after a detailed evaluation process, decided to go with OutSystems.
“We saw a low-code platform as a catalyst to bridge the gap between business demands and the available IT resources. We chose OutSystems, and now we have an engine in place that’s fueling the digital transformation at Schneider Electric,” says Amarpreet Kaur.
Building the Factory Foundation
Solution - Choosing the right platform was just the first step. The team set its sights on creating a “Low-Code Digital Factory” – a virtual capability without walls or smokestacks – to accelerate, standardize, and improve the development processes. This involved a series of steps:
- Introducing an agile mindset in developers and business stakeholders
- Establishing a consistent UX look and feel for web and mobile apps
- Setting up the right team structure, processes, and standards
- Creating a stronger governance system to prevent proliferation of unwanted and poorly designed apps
- Building a rich repository of reusable components specific to Schneider’s needs
- Educating, re-skilling, or upskilling the company’s developer community
Schneider Electric set up the factory foundation in four months and started hitting on all cylinders at the eight-month mark. They adopted a federated operating model that enabled local IT teams to develop apps on their own, while ensuring that developers complied with governance rules and quality standards laid down centrally.
Schneider Electric instituted a Center of Excellence (COE) team to govern and manage the low-code digital factory as well as support all development teams building apps on the platform. The COE team provides best-practices, knowledge transfer, expertise, expert guidance, and reusable assets to improve the success of project teams and the enterprise as a whole.
In addition, the COE supports application development across the lifecycle of each initiative, from evaluating projects to provisioning apps, managing IT users or developers, performing architectural reviews, conducting security checks, deploying apps, and monitoring the platform and its infrastructure.
“Establishing strong and robust governance was key to the solid foundation of our low-code digital factory. With OutSystems and its various architectural and management tools like 4LC, Discovery, Lifetime, etc., maintaining and improving the quality of apps became very easy and efficient,” says Ravi Joshi, RAD Platform Owner.
Additionally, Schneider Electric focused on evangelizing the platform and increasing adoption. The company launched an internal campaign promoting the benefits of developing apps on OutSystems to key business and IT stakeholders.
In just six months, Schneider Electric increased the size of its OutSystems developer community from 20 to more than 100. The company accomplished this feat by conducting training and on-boarding sessions across geographies and also encouraging citizen developers to become self-sufficient for their IT application needs.
Churning Out Apps at Lightning Speed
Results - Schneider’s IT team and upper management have been impressed by the results – especially in terms of speed. By mid-year 2018, developers had produced 30 internal business apps in about 40 percent of the time it used to take to develop the same amount of apps with traditional technology. The platform sped the development process by a factor of 2x and saved 650 days of effort in the first year alone.
Schneider Electric has now deployed several large enterprise applications that foster efficiency in the areas of supply chain, sales and marketing, workforce and HR administration, finance, portfolio management, manufacturing management, and many more. A large portion of these applications replaced legacy apps that ran on Lotus Notes technology. While most of the applications are web-based, there are responsive and mobile apps too. Most apps were completed in about ten weeks of development time.
- Performance and scale
- Architecture and governance
- Out-of-the-box integration