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Brewery's Beer Release Processes Hopping Because of Automation

Employee owners at New Belgium Brewing Co. – maker of the hugely successful Fat Tire amber ale – coordinated all the details of producing a new beer by sending emails back and forth. That resulted in “a lot of email,” many meetings, potential missed messages and sometimes confusion about who owed what when. “So many things could get lost or dropped,” says New Belgium Brewing’s Collaboration Business Analyst Tye Eyden. With hundreds of new breweries opening each year, the Colorado-based brewery needed to improve its processes so it could respond faster to the market and compete effectively.

Started in 1991, New Belgium Brewing Co. has become the fourth largest craft brewer in the United States. The company’s most popular brews include Ranger IPA and Fat Tire amber ale, named for the co-founder’s bike trip through Europe that inspired it. When the company was founded, there were German lagers and English ale, but very few breweries in the United States specialized in Belgian beers. The company, led by CEO Kim Jordan, generated $190 million in revenue in 2013. The company is a 100% employee-owned B-Corporation.

Product Planning via Email Results in Communication Gaps

Launching a new beer involves multiple departments, dozens of employees and several processes at New Belgium Brewing Co. Numerous questions must be answered while planning a product launch: Is this beer a broad market release? Where do we buy the raw materials? Do the labels meet legal requirements? What’s the story around the beer? What’s the flavor profile? What should be the packaging design?

The company employs 570 people and about 100 of them will be involved in some way with the tasks that make up a beer launch. Relying alone on email communication and SharePoint to track tasks slowed down the launch schedule, something that New Belgium Brewing couldn’t risk when competitors are always entering the market – hundreds of new breweries open each year.

Responding to industry trends is key to standing out in a highly competitive market. And that takes planning. For example, if India pale ales are trending, New Belgium Brewing must contract with hops growers to secure the hops needed to create new IPAs. And it must be able to do so quickly.

“We had to be more dialed in,” Eyden says. “We couldn’t just be working in email and have communication gaps. There’s too much stuff to coordinate with artwork and brewing and packaging and securing raw materials and all the other components in getting beer out the door. We’d leaned on SharePoint. We didn’t have that workflow component.”

Workflow Automation Helps New Belgium Respond Faster to Market

New Belgium Brewing decided that workflow automation was the answer. After researching options, the company decided on Nintex and now uses Nintex Workflow to automate all the processes for new beers and all of its processes for new packaging.

“We saved days, weeks, sometimes months per beer,” Eyden says. “It’s time we have back in our day or to refine the solution. We could not react to the marketplace, financially and efficiency-wise, without timing beer launches right. With this process, we could be more reactive to the market and be quicker in our decision-making. It allowed us to look closer at our process. Here are all the steps. How can we work more efficiently so we can be more consistent?”

Automating other brewery processes is so easy with Nintex Workflow that the company can do a majority of it in-house, which is another huge plus.

“We love to own our process and not have to rely on external vendors for everything,” Eyden says.

With Nintex Workflow, New Belgium Brewing easily and quickly tracks the myriad details of releasing new beers into the marketplace. As soon as the brewery’s Portfolio Council signs off on a new beer, employees leverage workflows to track every step of the product launch. For example, one workflow helps the company more easily manage the project schedule. When schedule milestones change, dependent milestones change automatically, instead of having to be individually and manually adjusted.

“Nintex helped us be a better brewery because we’re able to respond to external input from our market while collaborating more efficiently internally,” Eyden said. “That’s a huge thing and not one you can always put a metric on. It saved us time. It saved us a ton of money. It saved us a ton of effort.”

Nintex helped us be a better brewery...It saved us time. It saved us a ton of money. It saved us a ton of effort.

Tye Eyden
Collaboration Business Analyst
New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing
New Belgium Brewing Co.
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Estados Unidos
Food and Beverage
Business Situation
As New Belgium Brewing grew from a small brewery producing five beers a year to a much bigger one producing 30+ a year, planning new product releases via email, meetings and SharePoint couldn't do everything needed. The brewery didn't want communication gaps to limit its success.
Using Nintex Workflow for SharePoint, the company implemented more than 20 workflows for the coordination and scheduling of new brew releases, guaranteeing that no details are missed and that New Belgium Brewing can respond quickly to market trends.
  • Saved time (days, weeks and sometimes months) on launch planning
  • Boosted productivity
  • Decreased production errors
  • Reduced bottlenecks

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