In this blog series, we highlight the organizations who have chosen to utilize Camunda Platform 8 and explore the challenges those companies are attempting to overcome using process orchestration. For the latest installment of Why Camunda 8, we spoke with transentis consulting, an innovative business services and consulting firm based in Berlin. transentis helps their clients explore, re-design and transform entire business ecosystems using expertise in transformation management, enterprise architecture and enterprise analytics, with the goal of transforming enterprises intelligently and systematically.
transentis prides itself on operating as an agile, cloud-based company, which has informed its approach with client projects and its own internal operations. While the company has been cloud-based since 2008 and paperless since 2019, one “semi-digital” legacy process still lingered: the vacation request and approval process for transentis employees.
When transentis decided to digitize and automate this process, the team decided to focus not just on their own internal requirements, but to use this experience to better test and vet their chosen cloud-based process orchestration platform. We spoke with Oliver Grasl, CEO of transentis consulting, about the elements that made Camunda Platform 8 SaaS Professional the right choice for both transentis and a powerful tool for its clients’ projects.
Oliver Grasl: Our old vacation request signature process was part manual, part digital; it required a lot of time and effort creating PDFs, printing them out, running around to the correct people to get the signatures required, and loading those PDFs back into the system. We knew there was a better way to digitize the process to make it more efficient for everyone involved, and to meet our compliance needs as well. We knew that collecting real, verifiable esignatures would be a critical component for us and for clients who may be looking to digitize their own processes as well. When we began taking a look at the process, we further realized that while our needs could be met relatively quickly, our clients have strict processes and more complex needs, so we wanted to take this opportunity to not just improve our own process but better learn how to design and orchestrate a more complex version for our clients as well.
Oliver Grasl: When we first set out on this project, we set a number of goals and business requirements to meet our needs and better hone our skills for our clients. We knew we wanted to fully digitize our process, and that we needed to track all active and approved vacation requests, as well as show both available and taken vacation days for every employee.
We also wanted to implement a digital signature procedure for all the roles, and allow independent authorization for three different roles, while fully automating all notification emails and alerts throughout the process. When we listed out these requirements, we knew we needed a cloud-based solution that had a heavy visual BPMN component as well to map out the process and automate behind it as well.
What were the key decision criteria you had when evaluating options, and why did you decide on Camunda Platform 8?
Oliver Grasl: We use BPMN modeling for all of our projects, so we knew we wanted a platform that had a modeling component. Camunda’s Modeler is easy to use, and has a low cost of entry which was appealing to us. With Camunda 8, you can very quickly automate processes behind the BPMN modeling, which makes for a great value proposition.
Camunda 8 was also a solid value due to its scalable pricing structure; it grows as your needs grow, so there isn’t a prohibitive upfront cost. We wanted our business analysts to get more familiar with Camunda 8 for both our internal projects and our future client projects, and decided to move forward with Camunda 8 SaaS for our vacation request process project.
Oliver Grasl: With self-managed solutions, you always have to consider the tradeoff between lower monthly hosting costs, versus the cost of the local developers and dev ops resources needed to maintain that system. As a smaller, agile company, transentis believes in the power of cloud-based services, and how they can empower teams to work efficiently and adapt to changing needs. With Camunda’s scalable pricing model, we felt comfortable making the choice to go to SaaS and didn’t feel the upfront costs would be too prohibitive.
Camunda 8 SaaS also allows for flexible, scalable infrastructure architecture, and comes with several out-of-the-box Connectors that don’t require extensive developer time or resources. We took advantage of this in our process by integrating a lowcode solution (AppSmith) for our frontend and implementing the esignature tool Evidos through a REST API.
Our vacation approval workflow is now operational; it took us about 60 days to design, test, and deploy, but we took our time to really understand the different variables that clients could require in their own processes; we could have stood up this process in a much leaner timeframe if we were focusing solely on our own requirements. The operation is running smoothly, and we are collecting employee feedback now to iterate and improve on the process.
What’s your advice for anyone evaluating Camunda Platform 8? Any helpful lessons you’ve learned and would like to share?
Oliver Grasl: Overall, I find it useful to design and model an end-to-end process to see how each step in the workflow will look like. It also helps when orchestrating APIs and cloud services. Finding a platform like Camunda that allows you to do this and knows which microservice to call is really powerful. For example, we have three microservices in our vacation request process alone.
Since Camunda Platform 8 is relatively new, there may be additional time needed to research and find the answers or documentation you need when designing and testing your process. You may want to build a little extra time into your project to account for that time spent researching.
We also found it valuable to set up both a development and production environment in Camunda, like we would with other web-based services. This allowed our developers a separate environment for continued development after the initial production launch of our vacation request application. Being able to provision the cluster and be charged only for as long as we needed is also helpful for managing overall monthly costs.
See how transentis fully digitized their vacation request process, and how they are using their expertise and experience to help guide clients through their own digital transformation projects on the transentis blog.