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Etteplan – Modernizing the nonconformity management tool

Etteplan provides solutions for industrial equipment and plant engineering, software and embedded solutions, and technical documentation solutions to the world’s leading companies in the manufacturing industry.

In 2019, Etteplan had a turnover of approximately EUR 263 million. The company currently has more than 3,400 professionals in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and China.

Modernizing the nonconformity management tool with Microsoft Power Platform

Etteplan had an established nonconformity process defined, with also an existing tool in place to allow creating and handling nonconformities. This legacy solution was built with SharePoint Online and Infopath, of which the latter one was turning into technical debt from a support perspective (the last available version being InfoPath 2013).

There were several development ideas in Etteplan’s backlog on how they wanted to improve the existing process. Making these a reality required a modern technical foundation that would make it easy to apply changes into the tool’s business logic and user interface.

New nonconformity management tool:

New methods for business app development

The traditional way of implementing IT systems and tools is that the customer organization first defines their detailed business requirements, the supplier then builds the technical solution according to the specifications, and finally there’s a handover to the customer’s system owner, admins and support organization. Together Etteplan and Forward Forever wanted to try a different approach that would establish the solution ownership inside the customer’s organization from day 1.

Etteplan had recognized that they needed to educate their own citizen developers and IT pros with the various tools available in Microsoft’s Power Platform. Rather than reading through documentation and completing lab exercises with sample data, the skills to use these tools were acquired by building a real life application for the organization.

This type of relatively simple app projects are the perfect way to learn the true power of the platform.

We agreed on a project model where all the hands-on implementation work for the application was done by Etteplan’s own employee. Forward Forever’s Advisor helped with the architecture and app design tasks. During the implementation phase we had 30 min Teams calls every day for discussing the app development tasks that were on the ToDo list and solving any problems that had arisen from the earlier tasks.

The benefits from this approach were:

  • Etteplan can continue developing the tool without the help from an external supplier, with no separate handover phase needed.
  • Etteplan accumulated knowledge on how to build more Power Platform solutions on their own, and gained experience on how to identify future scenarios where these low-code tools are a good fit.
  • The new solution was built by a “freshman”, but everything was audited by an experienced advisor, ensuring the application has a solid technical foundation.
  • During the implementation this freshman didn’t need to spend several hours searching for solutions to technical problems, as these questions were solved together during the daily online meetings.

Technologies used

Power Apps, Power Automate, SharePoint Online