Using an integrative, multidisciplinary approach that gave City Power the best of many technology worlds, including the digital one that will power the future of business, Britehouse rolled out a solution in three streams.
The first covered a rework of City Power’s intranet and extranet and an implementation of a records and document management system. The project ensured that they could operate together to provide the organisation’s employees with a centralised, easy to use content management tool for sharing content and collaborating regardless of whether they were in the office, in a branch, or in the field. Britehouse replaced the intranet with SharePoint 2013 and built in a twitter feed that ensures that the right person in the organisation receives a customer request.
Britehouse also used Serendipity, software that automates the indexing of structured and unstructured content, to enable users, during searches, to surface information from stored documents with minimum effort.
Part of the document management project entailed building a reporting solution that would eradicate the need to use Excel workbooks to produce balanced scorecards for employees. The scorecards, which incorporate an internal perspective, based on employee learning and growth, a financial perspective, and a customer or stakeholder perspective, are now part of a custom-built app hosted in SharePoint. The app sources data from a range of systems such as SAP and fault-reporting and meter reading quality control solutions, and integrates with systems such as SAP Financials and HR.
Some metrics cannot be sourced directly from a system. So, the app has a manual input screen. To ensure that there is no inflation by employees of their performance, Word, Excel, and PDF documents can be appended in support of the captured metrics.
The solution is fully auditable. Management can see which user entered or changed a metric. Also, the app kicks off a workflow of approvals and authorisations.
The second stream of the City Power project focused on giving the website a complete facelift, providing users with intuitive facilities for changing content on the website. The website also automates workflows for document approval, eliminating delays. Users can access the website from any device without having to be connected to City Power’s network. By using Microsoft’s scalable content management tool, Britehouse enabled maintenance of the system by any certified Microsoft engineers.
For the Internet and intranet streams, 3fifteen used a conventional waterfall method. Even so, as Donovan Lacey explains, the implementation period was unusually short. “We spent a great deal of time upfront sitting with users in order to understand what they needed from the system. The insight we gained enabled us to reduce development time to three weeks.”
In the third stream and over and above their involvement on the technical side of the project, Britehouse BEE partner, Purple-Blue Technologies, rolled out change management aimed at empowering and motivating City Power employees to use the new technologies and keeping the organisation as a whole updated on the advantages of the solutions being implemented.
After each stream was completed, user adoption was driven by focused training programmes.
Purple-Blue CEO, Vincent Williams, says that the change management process focused, upfront, on reassuring users that the operational changes being introduced by the project would benefit them directly. “Although Purple Blue is only two years old, members of our executive and project teams have decades of experience in managing change, particularly within large corporates. So, we know that users have often been confronted with new systems that were difficult to learn to use and were perceived as increasing workload. In City Power’s case, we knew, via our close partnership with 3fifteen, that the solution would indeed be intuitively easy to use and take a lot of the routine operational slog off user’s shoulders. Our priority was to make users aware of this and, thereby, trigger the natural commitment that would make users want to use the new systems to best effect. This, in turn, would make them, once properly trained, direct contributors to the improvement in City Power’s service to customers.”
The Shortest Route
For the Integration and Reporting stream of the overall project, Britehouse opted for an agile approach.
“Beyond knowing that there were terabytes of data residing in existing documents, it was very difficult to define the scope of the project,” Donovan Lacey says. “However, in order to tender, we had to commit to an approach and a related cost. So, we recommended delivering a working piece of the solution every two weeks, for a period of 16 weeks. In order to do this, we needed to workshop with users and the City Power IT team upfront. All in all, therefore, our agile project lasted 18 weeks.
“Initially, our client’s were a little skeptical. The waterfall approach is deeply engrained in most of us. But once we had delivered the first two-week element, everyone accepted that the agile approach is, in fact, the simplest, most cost effective, least error prone way to work through and resolve unknowns in a project.”
“It also helps you gain buy-in throughout the organisation, because you get user feedback on the components as you deliver them. Users realise very early on that you’re solving their problem – because you’re listening. And you can refine as you go, instead of waiting for the end of a project to find bugs or discover that a piece of the brief was missing.”
Mochela says that Britehouse’s transparent approach, in both the waterfall and agile sections of the project, is an overall reflection of its professionalism. “Even their invoices are utterly transparent. There is always clear proof of delivery. You have confidence that what you are paying for something has delivered value. And, nothing is too much effort. When we asked them to jump on weekends, for example, they simply asked ‘how high’.”
Purple-Blue’s Williams feels that a significant factor in the transparency between providers and customers is teamwork. “City Power, 3fifteen, and Purple-Blue all worked so closely together and with such joint clarity of purpose that there were times when you really couldn’t tell which person on the project belonged to which team. That makes for tremendous coherence in the final outcome of a project.”