EPS Water chooses Novacura Flow to revolutionise processes, empower employees and leverage mobile working.

EPS wanted a process improvement tool that was easy to use, reliable and mobile-friendly. Vanilla Solutions helped them get started with Novacura Flow and they never looked back.

EPS Water is an innovative provider of products and services to the water, wastewater and clean technology sectors. The firm serves municipal, industrial, commercial, agricultural and domestic clients, and currently exports in more than 25 countries worldwide.

The challenge
EPS use IFS Applications to manage their project-driven business. They’d previously invested in a process improvement tool for IFS, but were finding it too inflexible. So they went back to the market to look for a technology platform that could deliver in three key areas: process improvement, mobility and reliability.
Improving processes was seen as an urgent priority. The EPS team needed to drastically reduce the number of manual processes and also get the flexibility to develop their own processes, without being restricted to pre-canned vendor solutions.
The second goal was mobility. EPS wanted to develop mobile applications and then roll them out across handheld devices quickly and cheaply.
Finally, EPS’ current system for managing work orders had proven unreliable and lacked critical offline capabilities. So they needed a solution that would also let them work offline.

The solution
Having seen Novacura Flow at an IFS user group event, EPS contacted Vanilla Solutions, Novacura’s UK Partner and reseller, to discuss their requirements. Vanilla provided EPS with a fully functioning trial edition so they could evaluate it against their own requirements.
EPS quickly realised that Novacura Flow did everything they needed. Before long, the internal team were creating powerful applications around the way the business wanted to work. The one-flow architecture, regardless of user interface, meant applications were easily published to both desktop and mobile users. Using a mobile device, Flow seamlessly integrated with device cameras, maps, scanners or GPS coordinates to create mobile workflows. It also supported offline working whenever needed.

The result
Using Flow has unlocked endless possibilities for EPS. Having already automated many business processes, they’re now implementing 25 touchscreen interfaces, giving their less tech-fluent team members a simple, intuitive way to interact with their ERP system. “Giving our people an easy-to-use interface with the latest technology is essential,” says Gareth Reynolds, IT Systems Manager. “They are our business and we can’t evolve without them.”

Although EPS are completely independent in their use of Flow, the relationship with Vanilla continues, with both sides sharing information and best practices for using the software. “EPS care about giving their people the right tools for the job,” says Jason Belcher of Vanilla. “Their ideas and expectations are realistic, which is great, but we’ve been able to show them how they can go a few steps further than they thought.”

“Working with Vanilla Solutions has been a pleasure,” says Gareth. “They stand by their values of simplicity, quality and customer focus. With Flow, they’ve helped us create something quite remarkable, with a really simple user interface.”
Now Gareth and his team are in the process of rolling Flow out across as many operations as possible, to take their systems and processes to the next level.

About EPS
EPS was founded in rural Ireland in 1968 to support local agriculture with a focus on water abstraction and pumping, and later diversified to become an important partner to the Irish water sector. Today, it is a specialist infrastructure support services company that provides design-and-build solutions and mission-critical mechanical products. The firm operates across the Republic of Ireland, UK, Middle East and West Africa.

For more information on how NovaCura Flow could benefit your business, please contact Sultan.amin@vanillasolutions.com

Vanilla Go Glamping

Last weekend we all headed out with our families to Bedale in Yorkshire for the annual Vanilla Summer Party, glamping at the Camp Hill Estate.

Incredibly for the UK, we had perfect weather all weekend! We arrived on location for a buffet lunch and then proceeded straight into activities. Separated into 3 teams we participated in some family friendly fun such as the Quadbike Olympics (which found Andy Bell and Holly Lewin in their element), Foot Golf and exploring The Woodland Kingdom. As we tend to work on-site with our customers across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, we rarely get to meet up to enjoy some down time together, so it was the perfect opportunity to do so with our loved-ones in tow.

After the formal activities, we got to see where we would be sleeping – luxury bell tents, furnished with Moroccan rugs, fairy lights and a fair share of creepy crawlies. We had a central lodge to relax and unwind in and this is where we found the Vanilla goodie bags that included camping essentials and our very own Vanilla hoodies. These proved essential in the early hours when temperatures dropped significantly!

Our children all became firm friends, racing around the estate and enjoying the bouncy castle and the sunshine. Sultan Amin, our Head of Business Development, was a clear favourite with the kids, having organised a rounder’s tournament in the afternoon. In the evening, we all sat down for a hog roast and a few drinks, toasted marshmallows and celebrated the engagement of one of our consultants, Maria Nikolaidou and her fiancé Rory. Congratulations again to you both!

Settling in for the evening, we enjoyed good food, good drinks and good company. The children didn’t slow down but we made a fair few attempts to settle them with ‘story time’ in the lodge. The next morning was a little hazy due to Janine’s rhubarb gin and a series of questionable drinking games organised by Paul Darwin, but we were treated to a lovely full English on the BBQ and a cup of Yorkshire tea before heading home.

Thank you to everyone that attended the day, and to your families who helped to make some treasured memories.
A huge thank you to Rachel our HR Manager and Jason Belcher, Director for organising the whole thing and remembering to think about the little touches, such as the enamel mugs, frisbees & Vanilla-engraved torches, that proved invaluable at 1 am!


We are already looking forward to Summer 2018!!

Vanilla’s ‘geeks’ get down and dirty for a good cause!

A couple of weeks ago our very brave team took part in Tough Mudder and it certainly lived up to the name; very tough and very muddy.

Our wonderful colleague, developer Brandon Ellis-Cairns, took it on himself to ensure we all did something important and meaningful this year, something out of our comfort zone to raise some funds for a very worthy cause.

Brandon selected Help for Heroes. They support ex-service men and women with injuries and illnesses sustained while serving in the British Armed Forces. No matter when someone has served, they give them the support they need to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives. They provide support to the whole family to help them all cope with the challenges they face.

Motivated by Brandon (A.K.A Batman), our toughest consultants, developers and directors accepted the challenge of Tough Mudder. They all worked hard for months to train for the event, which was a gruelling and intensely muddy experience where they fell hard but laughed harder.

We’re delighted to announce that our team, with your help, raised £2286.38 for Help for Heroes and Vanilla have now doubled the donation, reaching a final donation of £4,572.76 for a very worthy cause!

We must thank the toughest members of Vanilla: Jason, Andy, Rachel, Brandon, Andrew, Paul T, Paul D, Mike, James and Kieran for putting the rest of us to shame!

Well done team!!

To find out more about Help for Heroes and how you can support them, please follow the link: http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/

Day 3 of Qonnections and there’s no slowing down yet!

We’ve crammed in as many sessions as we could and have picked out some of the key messages from today to share with you. We are proud to be a part of this global data revolution.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We had our eyes truly opened to the possibilities of using our skills for good. Jake Porway, Founder of DataKind gave a fantastic session this morning. Jake works with a network of volunteers to use big data to tackle social problems. His organisation connects skilled data professionals, community representatives and other stakeholders to help charities and NGOs benefit from the power of analytics. They are literally saving and improving lives by harnessing the power of Qlik! We were inspired by Jake’s work and plan to volunteer some of Vanilla’s skills to support his amazing initiative.

An example of where DataKind’s work is doing good can be found here, where BI is being used to forecast and plan water demand in California when every drop counts. Click here to read more.

On a lighter note, we were both stunned and amused by The LA Swimmer- 43123 Pools I have not visited and never will. Take a look by clicking here.

United Nations Data Revolution

Qlik and the United Nations have partnered to bring the power of data analytics to humanitarian missions around the world. Problems in one country reverberate in another, Qlik and the UN are working collaboratively across sectors and industries to address how to realise new approaches to finance, investment, trade and technology. Leverage joint resources they are uncovering solutions. We found it exciting to see the vision for not just how data can be leveraged but for how they can make that date available to citizens across the world for their own understanding and to make a global impact, for good.

GeoAnalytics

We attended a fascinating session on the Qlik GeoAnalytics platform which drew an important distinction between merely mapping data and instead, applying calculations and rules to allow critical business decisions to be made using geospatial input.  We would love to work with our customers to provide solutions for their business challenges using this power technology.

Augmented Intelligence

Finally, a glimpse of the future!  A highlight of the day was being given a preview of the prototype Qlik Conversational Bot.  This is really a test-bed for a host of new natural language and augmented intelligence features that Qlik are working on.  Using a text messaging interface, we could see the Bot understand business questions posed in human language and provide amazing answers, updates and analytics.  It was also able to remember the context of its ‘conversations’ and even interact with several users in a multi-way chat.  We were stunned and very slightly afraid!

One more day to go, get in touch for more info!

The latest version of Qlik Sense, Cloud focus and an App with groundbreaking Offline capabilities!

We’re just 48 hours into Qonnections 2017 and we’re already blown away by the latest developments, new offerings and partnership program for Vanilla Solutions. Here are some of the highlights so far!

The latest version of Qlik Sense

Anthony Deighton walked us through the updates to Qlik Sense. Available for deployment in June, the platform is set to run seamlessly both in the cloud and on-premise. Offering connectivity to hundreds of data sources, including enterprise, web and big data sources. In many cases, complex scripting is no longer needed as the platform comes with a host of new data transformation tools built directly into the Qlik Analytic Platform.

Hybrid Cloud Analytics 

The team at Qlik set out their roadmap to seamlessly connect on-premise deployments of Qlik Sense Enterprise, with cloud-based services, creating an environment for supporting customers’ evolving needs and choices. To achieve this, Qlik is making investments in its core infrastructure to support the customers’ ability to choose where the data resides, where the analysis happens, and where and with what device users want to access it.  Businesses are no longer confined to an either/or choice regarding on-premise or Cloud BI; they can have both at the same time!

Qlik Sense Mobile

Qlik is also rolling out Qlik Sense Mobile, a new, native iOS app. It harnesses the full power of Associative Different even when offline, with the Qlik Indexing Engine (QIX) running locally. Qlik Sense mobile will complement our portfolio of truly mobile and offline-enabled business applications, including Novacura Flow. This is a game changer, a full version of Sense quite literally at your fingertips even when you have no connectivity!

Big Data Capabilities

Qlik’s big data capabilities have been enhanced to include On Demand App Generation templates built directly into Qlik Sense, enabling users to navigate big data sources using associative search to discover areas for detailed analysis. On Demand App Generation empowers the user to automatically generate a purpose-built analysis app every time they select a slice of a very large data source. Now, self-service users can get up and running with big data easier and faster.

Advanced Analytics Integration, GeoAnalytics.

New advanced predictive analytics integration capability allows for direct data exchange between the QIX engine and third-party calculation engines. Qlik has released integrations using this interface for R and Python. This allows for advanced calculations from external tools to be visualised within Qlik Sense, in real-time as the user explores. With this capability, users can combine the power of Qlik’s Associative Model with advanced analytics to better support use cases such as fraud detection, sales forecasting, and inventory management.

Get in touch with Andy to find out more!

Novacura Flow 6 Release

Vanilla Solutions are excited to announce the release of the next major version of Novacura Flow.  Flow 6 brings a host of new functionality to the already flexible and powerful mobility, workflow and process execution platform.  Foremost among these is the ability to design and publish multi-user workflows, allowing seamless and efficient transactional collaboration.  The powerful new Flow Studio allows you to design your own workflows and mobile applications even more easily than ever.  Why have a software company build a mobile application to suit your business processes, when you can just do it for yourself!

Key features and improvements to Novacura Flow 6 include:

Flow Studio: The new user interface is much more than a facelift. It brings a new level of simplicity and user-friendliness to designing, validating, reviewing and managing workflows. The UI makes it easier than ever for non-developers to achieve insight in processes and try out ideas.

Swimlanes: Multi-user support for constructing and managing applications, with different tasks easily assigned to the right stakeholder.

New workflow options: Support different use cases, including enabling publishing fully automated workflows as a structured web service, or reusing common workflow parts easily.

Sub-workflows: Enable users to create smarter applications in shorter time. Features have been specifically designed from customer feedback requesting shortcuts for common tasks, such as creating pick-lists, or reporting.

Offline capabilities: Enhanced autonomy of the platform to ensure full functionality and access when working without an internet connection.

Performance: the new design provides significant improvements in access and response time, further enhancing user-friendliness.

Flow 6 is available to all of our existing Flow customers and we’d be delighted to demonstrate it to anyone who doesn’t yet have a mobility solution, or is stuck with a rigid ‘fixed code’ solution.  If you’d like to know more about Flow, please get in touch!

Flow Portal allows web users to access specific streamlined views of your business data and to execute context-specific workflows!

Skanska selects Vanilla Solutions as systems integrator for IFS Apps 9 Rollout

Vanilla Solutions is delighted to announce that it has been appointed by Skanska UK as systems integrator for the rollout of its IFS Applications 9 programme.  Skanska is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups, with the UK operation one of the country’s top contractors.

Skanska selected IFS Applications 9 to form the core of the ‘SkanWorks’ works management solution for its highways business. The SkanWorks solution will allow Skanska to achieve a largely common operating model across its various contracts and relies heavily on IFS’s Service Contract and Work Order Management functionality, in addition to some bespoke functionality and interfaces to 3rd party applications.

As part of the engagement, Vanilla were invited to review the operating model supported by SkanWorks, with a view to helping to ensure that it was ready to be rolled out.  We have also been working with Skanska UK’s internal business applications support team to provide additional capacity, support and knowledge transfer.

Now that the preparatory steps of the project are complete, Vanilla will be working alongside Skanska employees to roll out the SkanWorks solution across multiple contracts.  We will be providing consultancy, training, development and support services directly to the programme, as well as assisting Skanska with change management and project management.

For find out more about how Vanilla can support your ERP rollout, contact Abigail today.

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

abigail.ridgway@vanillasolutions.com

ALE makes Qlik Sense their Global BI Solution

Vanilla Solutions are pleased to announce that ALE, one of the world’s leading international heavy transport and lifting contractors, have selected Qlik Sense as their Global BI solution.

sensega-all-devises-helpdesk

“With the help of Vanilla Solutions, we evaluated both QlikView and Qlik Sense to ensure we selected the correct product to meet our reporting requirements in the medium to long term.  Vanilla replicated some of our reports in both products and we took the decision to deploy Qlik Sense into the business.  Once implemented, we very quickly we were able to migrate our customer survey reporting from Excel to Qlik Sense.  This is now live, analysing our customer satisfaction survey results and providing us with a quicker and greater insight into customer feedback”- Jeremy Fothergill, Global Business Systems Manager for ALE

Qlik Sense is a next-generation visual analytics platform that empowers everyone to see the whole story that lives within their data. It supports a full spectrum of BI use cases, including self-service visualisation, guided analytics apps and dashboards, embedded analytics, and reporting, all within a governed framework that offers enterprise scalability and trust for IT. Qlik Sense is built on the QIX Associative Data Indexing engine, the second generation of Qlik’s proven and patented engine technology. Qlik’s Associative Model allows the business to probe all the possible associations that exist in their data, across all their data sources, to see the whole story instead of just the partial views offered by query-based or hierarchical tools. Qlik Sense takes analytics to a new level of power and flexibility, so that everyone is more informed and capable of acting and reacting faster.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with ALE, initially providing two proof of concept applications and now developing the first of many Qlik Sense applications.  Our aim now is to help the ALE internal team upskill so that they can continue their development themselves and start to realise the power of the Qlik Sense.  This self-service ability is one of the key benefits of Qlik and one of the reasons we are partners, as we believe in empowering our customers to become self-sufficient users of their applications”- Jason Belcher, Director of Vanilla Solutions

Click here to find out more about Qlik Sense or contact us today

The next shiny software upgrade will make it all better – right?

The developed world is gloriously full of sparkly new things to tempt us.  On balance, that’s probably a good thing as we need consumer demand to keep our factories, shops and service businesses open and, in turn, keep us all in work and able to buy the sparkly new things.  I think you need to take care though.

A few weeks ago I was driving up the M5 motorway from one customer in Somerset to another in Lancashire.  I stopped off in the midlands to get something to eat and (somehow!) found myself outside the dealer of my favourite motorcycle manufacturer checking out the latest models.

One had active suspension with automatic anti-dive and a stability control system that detected how far over the bike was leaning and adjusted the braking accordingly.  Amazing stuff.  After a few minutes, a friendly chap in an orange polo shirt came out and asked me what I was currently riding.  When I told him, he was quick to inform me that the newer model had more advanced fuel management and a bigger petrol tank and that I’d be able to go about 20% further between fills.  For motorcycle touring, this is a fairly persuasive point!

As I stood there wondering whether to blow a big chunk of disposable income on being able to ride 20% further and have less, umm, ‘dive’ I got to wondering about all of the other technology we buy and specifically the Enterprise Resource Planning products that my company works with.

Our customers are under constant pressure, much of it self-inflicted I have to say, to upgrade to the latest versions and exploit the latest new features.  Of course, some of these new features can deliver enormous business benefit if used appropriately but the same is also true of the many unused features that reside in the older versions of software our customers already have.

In my working life, I would estimate that around 75% of my customers tell me that they’ve invested in complex and highly capable software but they aren’t really using it to its full potential.  The studies we do of their business processes generally bear this out.  These are often the same people and businesses who pressure themselves to upgrade.  After all, if you’re only using 5% of ERP 1.0 then it makes perfect sense to upgrade to the ‘20% more functional’ ERP 2.0 and only use 4% of that, right?!

I’m not saying for a second that we shouldn’t ever change our motorcycles or ERP applications.  Things like supportability, regulatory factors and those new features that really are perfect for your needs all play a part.  But I’d argue that the decision to upgrade shouldn’t be close to being your first recourse.

For less than the cost of an upgrade, you could retrain whole sections of your staff, carry out a process overhaul and identify those most in need of your attention. You could even add on some sparkly complimentary products to manage specialist tasks and deliver some change. Just think how happy the board would be at the savings!

Back at the motorcycle dealer, I eventually wandered off, driven by the distraction of hunger and a slight feeling of melancholy.  That night, after a bit of hotel-room internet searching I discovered an auxiliary fuel tank system for my bike that will increase its range by 25% and cost an awful lot less than a new bike.  It even came with a fun afternoon in the garage pretending to be a proper mechanic while I fitted it.

I’m going to use the money I saved to actually go to some exciting places on my bike.  There’s only so much time you can spend on the M5…

andy-blog

 

Andy Bell

Director

Andy started Vanilla, along with Jason in 2009 . Despite being something of an ERP ‘geek’ he is passionate about not complicating things and delivering what the client needs.

Andy likes to split his time between working with his customers on projects, running the business and supporting Abigail with new business development.

If you need Andy’s assistance,  click here to contact him today