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Vandebron’s Journey From Automation Challenges to Success with Camunda

How green energy company Vandebron overcame complexity, the need for flexibility, and scalability issues through Camunda-powered process orchestration.
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Today, energy consumers have a justified and growing concern about sustainability and provenance. Vandebron stands as a pioneer in green energy sales and in fostering a personal connection between customers and their energy providers.

Founded with the mission to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy, Vandebron operates as an energy marketplace. Their unique approach connects consumers directly with producers, often local farmers, providing transparency and a welcome human touch to energy consumption.

However, this innovative model came with its own challenges, particularly in automation and process orchestration. Vandebron’s journey in overcoming these challenges (with Camunda) offers valuable insights into the business process management and digital transformation that process orchestration can support.

Niek Crasborn, product owner of Vandebron’s BPM team, and Maarten van Veelen, lead practice architect, Hyperautomation, at Incentro, shared insights at CamundaCon Berlin 2024 on how they transitioning from 100% Salesforce to Camunda-enhanced workflow capabilities.

Screenshot of CamundaCon2024 Vandebron presentation
Click to view presentation

In a fascinating presentation, they highlighted how combining Camunda’s robust process management with Salesforce’s superior customer interaction created an optimal solution for their organization.

The challenges: Flexibility, scalability, and complexity

Vandebron’s core mission is to facilitate the energy transition by increasing renewable energy sources, supporting green energy producers, and balancing the grid. Achieving these goals requires comprehensive business processes that can handle the increasing complexity and volume of transactions.

Initially, Vandebron relied heavily on Salesforce for both CRM and BPM functionalities. While Salesforce is a powerful tool, it became a limiting factor for several reasons:

  1. Organizational bottlenecks: Reliance on Salesforce for both customer relationship management (CRM) and business process management (BPM) created bottlenecks, as a single team managed and maintained numerous customer-facing business processes, leading to slow onboarding and innovation.
  2. Technical constraints: Custom BPM implementation using Salesforce asynchronous batch processing was constrained by a cap on the number of concurrent operational threads, which impeded the system’s overall performance and ability to scale. This limitation led to slowdowns in the execution of business processes.
  3. Custom code complexity: The existing custom workflow solution in Salesforce was highly complex, with over 55,000 lines of custom code. This made it difficult for new developers to learn and maintain the system, leading to resource scarcity and inefficiency.
  4. Ownership and responsibility issues: Transitioning process ownership to different teams was challenging, as ownership was centralized in the Salesforce team, leading to siloed development.
  5. Scalability and flexibility: Vandebron’s custom solution struggled to scale efficiently and adapt quickly to new business needs, impacting its ability to innovate and serve customers effectively.

The solution: Embracing Camunda for process orchestration

Recognizing the need for a more flexible and scalable solution, Vandebron’s Salesforce partner recommended looking for a mature BPM tool to handle Vandebron’s needs. After a thorough investigation, Camunda emerged on top.

To address the limitations and bottlenecks of the custom-built Salesforce workflow solution, Camunda aimed to provide a more flexible, scalable, and efficient process management implementation. This decision was driven by the need to find a resolution that could facilitate complex business processes while being technology-agnostic and easy to adopt.

Here’s how Camunda addressed Vandebron’s challenges:

  • Decentralized process ownership: By adopting Camunda, Vandebron moved from a black-box workflow tool to a comprehensive toolbox for process automation. This shift enabled various teams to take ownership of their processes, fostering innovation and allowing improvements to be made in parallel. Creating a center of excellence (CoE) for process management further supported this decentralized approach.
  • Simplified onboarding and maintenance: “Camunda’s user-friendly interface and comprehensive BPMN capabilities reduced the time required for new team members to get up to speed,” said Crasbon. This simplification was crucial in addressing the steep learning curve that plagued the previous Salesforce-based system.
  • Improved collaboration and transparency: Camunda facilitated better collaboration between developers and stakeholders. By having both groups work together on process modeling, Camunda ensured that business requirements were accurately captured and implemented. This collaborative approach also led to the creation of living documents, which could be continuously updated and refined for best process orchestration practices.
  • Enhanced performance and scalability: Camunda’s robust architecture allowed Vandebron to overcome Salesforce’s performance limitations. Handling large-scale process executions more efficiently was a significant improvement, facilitating Vandebron’s upgraded management of its growing transaction volumes without delays.

Implementation and early results

The transition to Camunda was not without its challenges. Initially, there was some pushback from development teams accustomed to the old system. However, through structured training and support from both Camunda and their partner, Incentro, Vandebron successfully navigated these hurdles.

“By having both groups work together on process modeling, working with Camunda ensured that business requirements were accurately captured and implemented. This collaborative approach also created living documents that could be continuously updated and refined.”

Niek Crasbon, Vandebron

Incentro played a crucial role in providing best practices and acted in tandem with the Camunda support team to ensure a smooth implementation.

“Camunda’s robust architecture allowed Vandebron to overcome performance limitations. The ability to handle large-scale process executions efficiently was a significant improvement, enabling them to manage its growing transaction volumes without delays.”

Maarten van Veelen, Incentro

One of the early successes was the implementation of processes for updating personal details and managing customer incidents. These processes, though simple, provided increased visibility and control over business workflows. For instance, when a customer wanted to change their email address, the process would seamlessly integrate with Camunda, updating all necessary systems and sending confirmation emails automatically.

Future plans and future benefits

Vandebron’s journey with Camunda is still in its early stages, but already the results are highly promising. With two processes live and more in the pipeline, Vandebron is creating a clear roadmap for migrating the remaining processes from Salesforce to Camunda.

The ultimate goal is to accelerate innovation and reduce dependencies between teams, allowing for faster response times to business needs.

“Camunda allows Vandebron to take the next step toward its strategic growth ambitions.”

Willem Mulder, team manager BPM, Vandebron

Looking ahead, Vandebron can already see opportunities for further automation, particularly in automating sales processes to increase their producer portfolio and production steering capacity, where Camunda can further drive efficiency and scalability.

By continuing to refine and expand its use of Camunda, Vandebron hopes to further enhance its ability to balance the grid and support the energy transition effectively.

Key learnings and conclusion

Vandebron’s experience underscores several essential lessons in business process management and digital transformation:

  1. Change management is crucial: Successful implementation of new technologies requires strong executive support and effective change management strategies. Vandebron’s CTO played a vital role in championing the transition to Camunda.
  2. Collaborative process design: Involving both developers and business stakeholders in process modeling ensures that the resulting workflows meet business needs and are technically feasible. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership and accountability.
  3. Incremental implementation: Starting with simple processes and gradually increasing complexity allows teams to build confidence and expertise with the new system. Vandebron’s phased approach helped them manage the transition smoothly.
  4. Ongoing support and training: Providing continuous support and on-demand training are essential for maintaining momentum and ensuring long-term success. Vandebron’s partnership with Incentro exemplifies the benefits of leveraging external expertise.

Vandebron’s journey with Camunda shows the transformative potential of effective process orchestration. By addressing their automation challenges and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, Vandebron is well on its way to achieving its mission of accelerating the energy transition.

As they continue to expand and refine their use of Camunda, the future looks bright for this forward-thinking energy innovator.

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