The Spark That Ignites Innovation

~ Marcin Grotowski, Digital Solutions Delivery Manager, NoLimit
We sat down with Marcin Grotowski, Digital Solutions Manager at No Limit, to discuss his low-code journey and his views on the role of IT in today’s fast-paced environment.
JB: Your journey with low-code and WEBCON has been going on for quite a few years now. How do you think the perception of this technology has evolved in Poland?
Marcin Grotowski: A decade ago, I had to convince people that low-code was cool by finding and fighting for projects that could be developed using this technology. Today, things are different. Today, I think low-code is a must-have for any organization that wants to embrace digital transformation and stay ahead of the game. I think the COVID-19 pandemic played a big role in changing the awareness and mindset of people. It quickly showed who invested in digitalization and who kept postponing it. Who managed to easily switch to working remotely and who was still struggling with paper. Today, thanks to applications built with low-code, we can ensure effective communication and collaboration in the company, and everyone benefits from it, from the intern to the CEO. That’s why I don’t have to prove to anyone that low-code rocks.
IT systems are now essential for any business. Has this also changed the role of IT over time?
Definitely. For me personally, a game-changer was 2019, when I got my master’s degree in Business Process Engineering. It taught me how to think strategically about digitization and process management. Today, implementing new technologies and solutions in an organization should be aligned with the business model, strategy and process approach. As IT, we need to look at it from two angles. The first is the architecture of the solutions we build, their solid design and documentation. Our job is to make sure that the solutions we create are stable, easy to maintain, and adaptable to changes. Today I can say that the solutions built 8 years ago are still working, some instances have millions of documents, and I still have weekends off. This is something that businesses may not even notice, but it is very important. The second aspect is the impact of solutions on the business continuity of the company. To give an example from the logistics industry: if the border with a certain country is closed today, I need to reroute the trucks immediately. At this point, I don’t have to call a meeting and explain the situation to everyone – instead, I change the process and everyone keeps working. This is good and bad at the same time, because in practice I know how the process works, but employees may lose this awareness because the process guides them step by step. However, it shows the value of those IT specialists who understand how the business and processes in the organization work. A well-organized ecosystem of interconnected applications also means a lot of data, which can help the company make better business decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Driving a truck with goods without an inspection may result in getting caught by the police, being late and paying a fine of two million euros – such situations can be easily prevented, but you need to sort out the processes first.
So IT should be more than just a technical department today – it should also be a strategic partner that advises the company on the best ways to grow and innovate?
I think that today, if a company wants to stay ahead of the curve, IT should be in sync with the Management Board and understand well the strategy and goals to be able suggest the right solutions. Because the technology and tools we choose depend on what outcome we want to achieve. Are we selling the company and need to boost the results? Do we have a long-term vision for growth? Do we want to expand to new markets? The tools will vary depending on these scenarios.
Is such an awareness a standard today?
I think this is what sets apart the market leaders from the followers, who are just getting started with their digitization journey. Today, organizations that have this awareness gain an edge over their competitors. And what’s important – also to us at No Limit – is that if a company is well-organized and well-managed, it naturally attracts other companies – both customers and partners – that are also organized and expect the same from companies that they work with. In our case, thanks to apps built with WEBCON BPS, we let our clients control their processes and orders that they run within our organization. This way, the customer can track their goods in real time, order warehouse movements, transport, and release of goods – which are then executed in our core systems. There, they are processed in a standard way, but thanks to having applications, we can customize processes to fit each customer’s needs, and this gives us a competitive advantage. Everything is also transparent and standardized, and this is a huge value for both us and our clients. We have one process with just two steps that serves 240 independent companies that use No Limit’s services.
So how do you use WEBCON BPS in No Limit today?
On the technical side, we have three separate instances, running on 11 servers. We have built 70 applications, which include over 240 processes, with 1,700 steps and 9,000,000 documents processed. The system users are both internal and external – our clients and business partners – and they number nearly 1,000 people. On the practical side, we take our applications very seriously, because they are used by customers who care about the business impact and real results. Therefore, we prioritize security, solid architecture and care for the DevTestProd environment. Before we upgrade the system or deploy a new solution, we first test it internally, and then we deliver it to the customer – having three instances helps a lot in this case. We also try to make sure that the solutions are similar and universal in terms of structure – and on top of that we add a configuration part where we customize them to the client’s specific requirements. Thanks to this, we can serve 240 companies in one application, while meeting their individual needs. Whether they ship to two or three countries, whether they settle in Polish zlotys or euros, whether they have to take the goods up the stairs or leave them at the door – all this is handled by a single application.
How does an IT department manager view the standardization of solutions based on a single application platform? Is it a benefit or a drawback?
If every application was created from scratch by a different developer, he or she would be like a painter. Everyone would have their own style and the quality of the code would differ. The platform may restrict the creativity, but it ensures that this metaphorical “painting” follows one style, sticking to the rules and standards, and this is a huge benefit for the organization. If one of the specialists leaves the team, he or she can be easily replaced by another one who will quickly learn how the platform works and will be able to continue working. This guarantees the continuity of the company’s operations and gives me, as a manager, peace of mind. Therefore, I believe that this certain framework for developing applications is definitely a benefit.
So, this ability to customize your service to your customers’ specific needs is what sets you apart from your competitors. Would this be possible without system support?
Yes, this is a deliberate strategy of the company and in our case it is not the quantity that is impressive, but the complexity of the processes around our services. We do not specialize in delivering parcels from point A to point B, but rather in handling unique scenarios. For example, one of our clients sells bikes on an auction site. When someone buys one, the company imports the bike from China. The bike comes to No Limit, where we assemble it, adjust the saddle, inflate the tires to the desired pressure – and send everything on one label. The client thinks it’s coming from China, his client thinks it’s coming from the warehouse, and we manage the entire process so that a customized, ready-to-ride bike arrives to the customer’s doorstep. This is the added value that we offer as a company. Another process of this kind is an application that manages the installation of furniture, parcel lockers or training equipment. From one application, we order what goods are to be delivered and installed, when and where, and we configure the selection of suitable teams, registered in the system, selected by postal code. In the application, we have instructions from the client, dimensions, before and after images, materials used for installation, and finally everything is settled with an invoice. There are no frills here, but we have a well-designed end-to-end process that serves many international clients from one application.
You make it sound simple, but I’m sure the journey to this point was full of twists and turns. How does a person not get overwhelmed with the thought of digital transformation?
My advice for those who are starting their digital transformation journey is to take it one step at a time, and to build and deploy apps gradually. I said before that you need to choose the right technologies for your goals. But you also need to balance your ambitions with your capabilities. You can’t dive into 7 different technologies and areas of digitalization at once, because that would be a recipe for disaster. You would have to learn them all, build teams and skills, and pay 7 bills. It’s better to focus on the core processes first, the ones that make you money. Let’s tackle 70-80% of the business needs first to maximize the return on investment, and then we can move on to the rest. I know that you at WEBCON often say that the process that the majority of the customers want to digitize first is the invoice approval workflow. I’m not even surprised by that, as most decisions in the company are made where the money is. And since invoices are in finance, let’s help the accountants first and then move forward. When looking for a good candidate for digitization, I would advise to pick a process that has a broad impact and involves many employees from different areas of the company. This way, you can expose a lot of people to the tool and spark some ideas in various departments about what else can be improved in this way. The role and attitude of the board are also very important, as they should communicate the company’s mission in digitalization and prepare the organizational culture for this evolution. The WEBCON platform is perfect for this strategy of incremental app building, because it lets you create and launch solutions quickly, but also change them easily when needed. This gives the flexibility and the confidence that you don’t have to launch perfect apps right away, but you can work agilely, based on real feedback from users who feel a part of the company’s digital transformation.
And now, for the final question, what is your personal achievement you’re most proud of?
My home and family are definitely my pride and joy, but if I had to pick something that is purely personal, it might sound cliché, but it is also work-related – thanks to WEBCON BPS, I can now finally enjoy my vacations. After 8 years of working with this platform, I can say that it allows me to pursue my hobbies, spend my free time the way I want, without worries. During this time, I actually managed to shed about 30 kilos, develop a passion for sports and challenge myself with things like cycling around the Tatra Mountains, triathlons, or riding 250 kilometers in race. In two years, I plan to participate in Iron Man – but only after I finish my MBA studies, because I don’t want to do it without proper preparation. As my colleagues say: it’s not about just completing the marathon, it’s about doing it with dignity. So I can confidently say that I changed my life. Because in order to grow and fulfill yourself – both professionally and personally – you need to have time for it. For meeting and talking with people, for reading books – if we are always in a hurry at work and we don’t have enough time to ourselves, it is impossible to do that.
And what about the biggest achievement in your career?
As I’m yet to hit 40, I believe that the best is yet to come in my professional life. I’m proud of where I am today, in my current job, but I also have some goals and dreams that keep me motivated. As you can probably tell from this interview, I enjoy storytelling and teaching, so I hope to explore this direction more in the near future. But dreams are not just about reaching the destination, they are also about enjoying the journey. A journey where you encounter many inspiring people and situations that challenge you and make you smile later in life. I think you should savor both the achievement and the process of achieving it. And when you do achieve them – you know – you set your sights on the next ones.

Contact our expert now:

Michał Rykiert
Director of Businesss Development EMEA

michal.rykiert@webcon.com

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WEBCON is the leading European-based provider of a complete Low-code Application Platform for mass delivering business solutions. Companies choose WEBCON to dramatically reduce time and cost of app development. The platform allows them to automate and manage business processes across the entire organization – using a single, unified platform. Thanks to its unique InstantChange™ technology, WEBCON embraces change like no other platform on the market.

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