How Brett Lee Uses Mendix to Easily Build an Application that Integrates with SAP
In today’s maker profile, we are featuring Brett Lee, Associate Consultant of RAD Solutions at Epi-Use. Hear how he came to develop with low-code and about the SAP integration he built with Mendix.
1. What is your education and professional background? Did you have any prior development experience?
I did not have any prior professional developer experience before university. I started with a computer science undergrad degree, and I knew at the time that I was not a typical programmer. I added a lot of BI classes to my curriculum. I wanted to know more about the business side of development, it really intrigued me, so I did a graduate study in IT and business. I wanted to better understand the process of development from all sides, how to manage projects, how to manage a process, how to talk to the people that will be the end users and in the business. Through my studies, I was able to get a view of how the business thinks and was able to experience the best of both worlds. I think this has really benefited me in being able to talk to all parties involved in development projects.
2. How were you introduced to Mendix? What was your initial reaction?
After I graduated university, I was looking for a job. The company my mother had previously worked at had completed a project with Mendix, and she had received feedback from coworkers who were very impressed with the results. She introduced me to the people at Mendix and I applied for an internship with the expert services department. Immediately after I began working with Mendix, I noticed how different this development was from traditional development, and how impactful it was. My initial reaction to the platform was that it was amazing, I immediately knew that the company, people, and platform would impact so many other organizations.
I worked for Mendix for two years, and I wanted to use my knowledge and skills in a consultancy role. I was fortunate enough to continue my career growth and begin working for a Mendix partner, Epi-Use.
3. What was most helpful learning Mendix?
Working on an actual project and really being in it and figuring it out was the most helpful for me. I did the introduction and advanced training courses, but it didn’t fully stick until the training was applied to a real project. Immediately after the first project, I felt confident about developing with Mendix.
4. What have you built using the platform? Which app/project are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the application I built where we integrated with SAP. I had never built such an integration, and it was a very interesting process to find out how the integration works and to set up the integration. The fact that Mendix and SAP are partners made it really rewarding to learn how to do this because I knew it wouldn’t be the last SAP integration I would work on.
The application helps automate the process of keeping track of time and expenses that need to be completed for higher ed grants. The process was originally done on paper, and we transformed the process of needing to do 7,000 paper pars, to being able to do them all online where everyone has access to them at all times and can see what is going on.
We put a lot of effort into the usability and design of the project and because of that, the end users really accepted the application. They were originally against the change, but once they started working with it, the feedback was so great and we felt like we really hit the spot with the application.
5. How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
If I think about the number of hours I would have had to spend programming all of the work I do, it’s too many hours to count. The fast and agile pace of the platform enables me to deliver bits and pieces of apps and get user feedback very quickly. This is so valuable not just for the developer but also for the customer. Because that feedback loop is that short, it makes my life easier to not have to go back and redo all of my work like with typical programming. I would say typical programming is like a black box that you can’t see into until the end of the project, and with Mendix it’s open, and you are much more closely connected with the end user.
6. How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
Mendix is a low-code, fast-paced and agile platform that enables anyone to quickly build complex apps. Just by talking through a domain model or a microflow, the programmer and the business side can come together and talk through a workflow and understand it, which is amazing. These short lines between the business side and the programmers enable you to do better, quicker development work.
7. What are your interests/hobbies outside of work?
Living in New York provides the benefit of a vibrant city life, so when I am not exploring New York I am traveling or getting into sports like football and snowboarding.