An eight-month project aimed at empowering City Power employees with the means to collaborate and also track and store documents has increased and professionalised the power distributor's responsiveness to customer queries.
The ‘Sefolleng' project, undertaken by Britehouse via its Digital Marketing, Mobility, and Portal and Collaboration business units – using both agile and waterfall methodologies – upgraded and enhanced City Power's intranet, Web site and document management capabilities, as well as creating an integrated reporting system for employee key performance indicators (KPIs).
"By giving us commercial efficiency, the Sefolleng project has changed the public face of City Power," says Aubrey Mochela, general manager of ICT at City Power. "Because our employees can now share information using tools with which they are familiar, response and repair times have been slashed.
"Also, management can measure employee productivity and adjust key performance indicators in ways that enable continuous improvement across the business.
"Seeing Sellofeng's positive impact, our directors have requested dashboard facilities to keep themselves up to date on improvements in the business. So, Sefolleng has significantly improved the status of IT within the business as a whole."
Before Sellofeng, City Power's users used shared folders to store a range of documents that included meter readings, quality control, fault reporting, billings, collections, and employee KPIs. As the folders increased in size, securing and auditing the documents became more difficult. Without automation of the movement of old documents, archiving was cumbersome. Lack of integration of reporting processes into City Power's SAP financials or HR solutions made it difficult to align employee activity with their KPIs or with bills sent to customers.
In addition, City Power's Web site was running on old technology that had no workflow for reviews and approvals by management. And, the technology had no mechanisms for innovation, limiting improvement of the Web site's functionality.
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, the creation of a Twitter feed to ensure customer requests reach the right employees, and an implementation of a records and document management system. Britehouse ensured all the systems could operate together to provide employees with a centralised, easy-to-use content management and collaboration tool that they could access in the office, in a branch, or in the field.
Although Britehouse Digital (then 3fifteen) used a conventional waterfall method for the Internet and intranet streams, time spent upfront with users to understand their needs reduced development time to three weeks."
Part of the document management project entailed building a reporting solution that replaced Excel workbooks with a custom-built app hosted in SharePoint. This enabled the creation of employee balanced scorecards that incorporate an internal perspective based on employee learning and growth, a financial perspective, and a customer or stakeholder perspective. The app sources data from a range of systems such as SAP and fault reporting, and meter reading quality control solutions integrates with systems such as SAP Financials and HR, and kicks off a workflow of approvals and authorisations.
The second stream of the project focused on giving the Web site a complete facelift, providing users with intuitive facilities for changing content on the Web site and automating workflows for document approval. Users can access the Web site from any device without having to be connected to City Power's network.
In the third stream, in addition to its involvement on the technical side of the project, Britehouse Enterprise Development partner, Purple-Blue Technologies, rolled out change management and user training programmes.
Purple-Blue CEO, Vincent Williams, says the change management process focused on reassuring users that the operational changes being introduced by the project would benefit them directly. "Making users aware that the new system would be intuitively easy to use and relieve them of routine slog would encourage them to use the system to best effect and, therefore, become direct contributors to the improvement in City Power's service to customers."
For the integration and reporting component 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," Britehouse's Donovan Lacey says. "In order to commit to an approach and a related cost, we recommended delivering a working piece of the solution every two weeks for a period of 16 weeks. To achieve this, we workshopped with users for two weeks upfront, before development kicked off.
"Although the client was initially a little sceptical, delivery of our first two-week element convinced everyone that the agile approach is the simplest, most cost-effective, least error prone, most user involving way to work through and resolve unknowns in a project."
Mochela feels that every public sector organisation needs the kind of capability City Power now has. "Empowerment of employees through relevant access to information and the means to collaborate for greater effectiveness is one of the most compelling answers to the service delivery question."