We built Horizon Utilities a custom CRM platform.

Project

Implementation & Development

Industry

Energy & Utilities

Technology

Microsoft SharePoint

quote from horizon...

BACKGROUND

Horizon Utilities, one of the largest municipally-owned electricity distribution utilities in Ontario, was seeking to redevelop their corporate web site, www.horizonutilities.com, to address a broad range of near- and long-term business requirements.

The Challenge

The existing www.horizonutilities.com required a good deal of day-to-day maintenance and did not lend itself to the rapid dissemination of important information, such as outage reporting, to Horizon Utilities customers. Providing customer self-service was confounded by a lack of integration to Horizon’s AS/400 iSeries and DB2 environment.

The Solution

Whitecap worked with Horizon Utilities to define functional requirements, technology strategy, solution architecture and the implementation plan.

The solution is primarily built on SharePoint 2010 and hosted externally. The SharePoint environment hosts the public facing web site in addition to the content administration and customer service reps extended web sites, all of which are hosted by a third-party provider. SharePoint’s content administration features allow each Horizon business unit to manage its own content.

A new design was developed to enhance corporate branding and differentiate Horizon from other LDCs while employing best practice navigation, and incorporates a user friendly and easy-to-navigate interface. Based on the creative design, a custom multi-level hierarchical pop-up navigation menu was created, which uses the SharePoint navigation data source and is manageable through the default site settings. The menu presents the multiple levels of the site structure by calculating and splitting all child nodes into three columns without cutting off any sub-site sections.

AS/400 iSeries data validation and list integration was developed via SharePoint web parts to allow end users (customers) to work with their Horizon account, facilitating queries and updates to data in the DB2 database using the customer self-service portal. Client Object Model was used to implement a “maintenance mode” for the site, which would disable certain site features unavailable during AS/400 environment maintenance.

Efficiency and automation were introduced through the development of “Move-In/Move-Out” business process automation using InfoPath forms. Leveraging extensibility points in SharePoint and InfoPath managed code to handle complex workflow logic, this feature enables homeowners, landlords, lawyers, and tenants to submit move in and move out requests. SharePoint workflows were leveraged to allow Horizon Utilities to internally manage these requests.

To enable end users to visualize their electrical and water usage consumption, the chart web part, one of SharePoint’s business intelligence features, was used to develop the consumption chart feature. The data to visualize are queried from the AS/400 and exposed through web part connections.

The Results

READY FOR THE FUTURE

The new www.horizonutilities.com was successfully launched in May 2012. The site has been a success in that his provided Horizon personnel with an easy-to-use facility for the direct management of content across the web site. The new site has been well-received by Horizon’s customers, as it effectively presents information and supports self-service transactions intuitively to the end use. This increased interactivity, has allowed Horizon to gain business efficiencies in a number of key customer service areas, such as outage information reporting and account management.

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