Convoluted to Connected: The APP Group’s Digital Revolution Powered by Workato

In the competitive property and construction landscape, operational efficiency is paramount. The APP Group consults on Australia’s most complex infrastructure projects, with a 550-strong workforce tackling over 800 projects annually. 

To scale efficiently, Martin Rubens, IT Solutions Manager at The APP Group, recognised the need to strategically modernise their technology architecture as they prepare to migrate their ERP, but also tactically extend the functionalities of existing systems with user-centric workflows. He turned to Workato, a leader in low-code integration and automation, to realise this two-pronged vision. A series of challenges spurred them to action.

Overcoming Legacy Challenges

The APP Group was burdened with a convoluted and legacy-heavy IT environment, leading to inefficiencies and operational challenges in accessing, managing and acting on data. Handicapped by the limitations posed by their existing systems, business users resorted to using Excel or tools found off the internet to address their needs. Such use of shadow systems led to lost data and inconsistencies. This meant that even senior staff were caught manually updating key reports by referring to multiple documents because the numbers reflected in core systems were not accurate. 

To address evolving business needs, Martin and team relied on custom building workflows but the tools they tried were limited in features and significantly drove up their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Moreover, these custom-built solutions relied on a small development team, presenting risks that were unsustainable for the business. A restructuring exercise, following the acquisition of new businesses, put added pressure on the backend to migrate data and integrate systems.

However, digital transformation solutions proposed by other vendors were prohibitively expensive, simplistically fixated on procuring licenses rather than investing in people, and lacked a clear return on investment.

The Workato Difference: A User-Centric Approach

Workato’s approach was different. By unifying integration and automation on a low-code interface, the platform focused on empowering users to innovate now and for the future. Hearing this from an existing Workato customer, Martin was intrigued to test Workato for himself.

After running several proof of concepts, Martin’s team chose Workato for its versatility, ease of use, and comprehensive integration and automation capabilities to orchestrate a wide variety of processes. This meant that IT could partner business users to immediately expand the functionality of existing systems without needing to make any upfront investment to replace all legacy systems at once. To the department heads and management team of The APP Group, a single middleware was all they needed – to deliver immediate value and support long-term strategic goals.

“Workato proved to be that swiss-army-knife solution that could solve our most significant business pains across every function”

-Martin Rubens, IT Solutions Manager – The APP Group

Innovating with End-to-End Automations

The APP Group first used Workato to establish a single source of truth for HR system data. This was just the beginning. 

In the fraction of the time previously required, staff across The APP Group began using Workato to rapidly address an array of needs. Here’s a snapshot:

  • Auto-update directory for managing network services and permissions: Workato integrates the HR system with Active Directory so that all attributes from users are updated automatically when a person changes business units.
  • Deliver an integrated onboarding experience: Workato automatically sets up the intranet for new starters and provisions necessary access to applications and equipment.
  • Aggregate data from Excel into SQL: Workato aggregates information from dozens of Excel spreadsheets into a SQL database, allowing The APP Group to create a complex resource forecasting solution.
  • Automatically generate and send custom email reports: Workato enabled the most junior employee in The APP Group IT team to add email notification functionality in a custom solution. Users automatically receive personalised email reports daily and weekly, with custom information summarised for them.
  • Automated smart alerts for timesheet tracking: Workato automatically sends smart alerts via MS teams to staff who have not filled in their timesheets, and even personalises these alerts to remind employees of what they worked on the past week, so that they can take action to record the time spent on it and automatically get an acknowledgement.
  • Automated folder management: Workato automatically creates and manages folders on Sharepoint, pulling critical data from a custom resume management application. 
  • Automated data sync with external platform: Workato automatically syncs accounts with external platforms, removing manual tasks and possible errors.

“Workato allows us to shoot and forget. We do it once, it works like a charm and we never have to worry about it again.”

-Martin Rubens, IT Solutions Manager – The APP Group

Speed, Accuracy and Empowerment

Here’s what The APP Group achieved with Workato:

  • Integrations built as fast as a day instead of a month previously.
  • Guaranteed data accuracy, eliminating multiple sources of truth from shadow systems.
  • More automation builders, eliminating key man risks by empowering even the most junior staff to automate.
  • Lower TCO than previous integration tools.
  • Improved employee experience with streamlined processes and reduced manual workload.

Expanding Horizons with Workato

As The APP Group’s digital transformation journey progresses in phases, Martin shares that Workato will be key to their strategy of keeping all new systems connected to their existing legacy backbone. 

Martin and his team have even set their sights on expanding the use of Workato to front-facing aspects of the business, such as extending the flow of data to joint venture partners and clients. To achieve this and more, their IT team will be stepping into a more strategic leadership role of training and mentoring more non-technical employees to build workflows with Workato. 

By fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, The APP Group is poised to reimagine possibilities in the digital age of construction.