Technical Consulting and ECM Solution Development for US-based Utility Providers

Background

N-iX Professional Services has cooperated with a number of utility providers from the USA and other countries. Our experts have developed complex ECM and CCM solutions, employed a wide technological stack, implemented successful product rollouts, and ensured maximum scalability of the delivered solutions.

Business Challenge

Businesses that operate in the utilities sector have to deal with large volumes of data and documents on a daily basis. Our clients’ main goals were to increase the processing speed of their software, automate operations, and streamline business processes using OpenText solutions for Enterprise Content Management.

Value delivered by N-iX

N-iX specialists have established effective communication with the client and performed the careful analysis of the business requirements. As a result, we designed and implemented an efficient ECM solution that delivered tangible value to the clients including:

  • Automated processes, shorter billing cycle and accelerated document approval process;
  • Facilitated collaboration thanks to the flexibility of the new system;
  • Streamlined business processes and improved operational efficiency.
PRODUCT OVERVIEW

Client’s Goals

Businesses that operate in the utilities sector distribute water, electricity and natural gas to thousands of households. They have to deal with large volumes of data and documents on a daily basis. Oftentimes, they rely on slow and inflexible legacy systems, which leads to problems in operational efficiency.

Thus our clients felt a strong need for innovations and even a broader digital transformation. Their main goals were to increase the processing speed of their software, automate operations, and streamline business processes. The clients also sought to resolve such issues as a slow billing cycle, lack of flexibility, a lot of manual work, human errors etc. Our Professional Services Team was required to complete the following tasks:

  • Improve system flexibility to simplify changes and collaboration. For one thing, there are changes in the business processes that need to be represented in the documents. So our clients needed to be able to address them without the regular involvement of an IT specialist who supports the system. For another, federal legal requirements change occasionally and they bring about many changes in the business processes and the documents alike.
  • Automate the billing cycle. Lack of flexibility combined with large volumes of documents put significant strain on the company resources. N-iX specialists got the task to automate the billing cycle of the utility provider. Thus they were to develop a solution that would read raw data from SAP, process it, generate output on the go, and distribute it automatically.
  • Automate and shorten the document approval cycle. The client required a solution that would have a convenient WYSIWYG user interface where their employees could collaborate, tweak the document design, insert text if needed, add marketing messages etc. What’s more, the approval of such changes typically took days, so they needed to shorten the approval cycle to several hours.
  • Build a scalable solution that would generate thousands of documents fast. The legacy systems used by our clients couldn’t handle hundreds of thousands of documents they needed to generate and process. So N-iX consultants’ main task was to implement a scalable solution that would do it fast.
  • Ensure solution maintainability. Customer legacy systems were often developed in-house decades ago by engineers who since have changed jobs or retired, and the customers have been struggling to maintain the solutions. As an industry standard, StreamServe is serviced by many specialized consulting companies such as N-iX, which resolves the problem of solution maintenance.

Challenges

The main challenge on any utilities project is performance. Business processes in this sector involve a lot of documents with different structure, logic, and messages for various cases. The system may work perfectly when generating 10,000 documents. Conversely, when it has to cope with 100,000 and more, we need to think about its scalability and processing speed.

An experienced OpenText consultant is well aware of the bottlenecks of the product and knows how to avoid them. Moreover, they take these aspects into account to design a solid solution architecture, write a neat code, and ultimately, ensure the maintainability of the solution.

OpenText consultants at N-iX successfully resolved these challenges, modernized our client’s legacy systems, added new functionality, and ensured the best performance of the implemented ECM solutions.

Implementation

N-iX has delivered a number of enterprise content management solutions in the utilities sector based on OpenText and SAP product suites. Our professionals have implemented projects of different duration (from 6 months to 4 years) and complexity.

Long-term projects usually involved ECM solution development for the clients’ branches in different countries including the USA, Canada, Germany, Japan etc. In such cases, our task was to unify different solutions, make them similar from the technological standpoint. On the other hand, we had to take into account the specifics of different markets and company subsidiaries, and develop custom functionality if needed. OpenText solution integrations delivered by N-iX specialists in the utilities sector went through the following stages:

 

  1. Onsite work, analysing business processes and gathering requirements. The cooperation started with an on-site visit by our professionals. They studied the client’s business processes, analysed the existing solution and its structure, established the client’s needs and gathered essential requirements.
  2. Functional requirements document preparation and sign off. Since N-iX development centres are located in Eastern Europe, our technical consultants did much of the project work remotely. After gathering the requirements, they continued their work off-site. N-iX specialists analyzed the gathered information and formed the ‘Functional Requirements’ document outlining the client’s needs. Then the document was discussed and approved by the client.
  3. Developing solution architecture and blueprint design. Our technical consultants used the best practices in OpenText product integration to develop a reliable and scalable ECM solution architecture. Moreover, they took into account the specific problems the utility provider aimed to resolve so they added custom functionality to the design.

4. Solution development. While developing the solution, which took several months, N-iX professionals maintained regular communication with the client. They discussed the project workflow and kept the client updated on the progress.

5. User acceptance testing and bug fixing. After finishing the development of the major functionality of the solution, our specialists proceeded to user acceptance testing (UAT). N-iX experts performed this work partly on-site, as it requires heavier interaction with the client.

6. Volume testing. During this stage, N-iX consultants performed thorough testing of the solution’s performance to make sure it could withstand maximum workloads.

7. Production and parallel run followed by cut-over. After careful debugging, the system went live. However, it was launched in the parallel run with an old solution and N-iX specialists monitored its performance for around a month. Thus our consultants made sure the system was ready for cutover and seamlessly switched to the new solution.

Value delivered by N-iX

N-iX Professional Services division has deep expertise in enterprise content management solution implementation. Therefore, our consultants were able to attain the project goals, resolve the technological challenges, and build a reliable and scalable system. N-iX specialists delivered the highest quality for favourable rates, which brought a lot of value to our clients in the utilities sector.

Thanks to the advanced business culture and excellent communicative skills of our consultants, the client was fully satisfied with the project flow, and it was completed within an established timeframe. Moreover, N-iX specialists used their R&D products to supplement the solution with more advanced functionality.

As a result, the client was able to automate a lot of manual work, reduce the risk of human error, shorten the billing cycle and the document approval process, facilitate collaboration thanks to the flexibility of the new system, streamline business processes, and improve operational efficiency overall.

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