Risks & Challenges
The key challenge of this project was to ensure the delivered solution allowed complex processes to be executed in a user-friendly way. With the user-experience being a major priority, simple dashboards were designed that gave users a snapshot of their existing switches and meter works.
A further key challenge was securing access to the data within the system. In order to mitigate any unauthorised database access the system was designed with user authentication, managed by the ASP.NET Identity Provider. System Administrators were given the ability to assign user roles according to group type, such as ‘supplier’ or ‘engineer’. Submissions and request updates could then be logged using simple forms with built in validation and attachment facility, with notification alerts sent to user groups when action was required by them.
Outcome & Benefits
While Etain provide hands-on support for the deployed solution, the web application and database reside on a single Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine - the benefit of cloud deployment is that Microsoft maintain the infrastructure and security of the hardware, ensuring fast response and remedy in the event of an outage.
Combining the output from the business analysis and the workshops allowed us to clearly identify a suitable solution that addressed the online and offline risks, detail the functional specifications and construct a high-level timeline that kept us in regular contact with the client at critical stages of the project.
Included in the final deployment was the ‘meter works’ functionality. Originally intended for a Phase 2 release, this gave users the benefit of a fully functional, integrated system ahead of schedule. This also meant training and documentation could be implemented and delivered in its totality without the need for future training sessions and associated cost to client.
Our User Acceptance Testing encompassed many weeks of end to end testing by the system users. This ensured that the real-time processes matched the functional specifications and that the intended capabilities were fully realised and finely tuned to the needs of the firmus teams.
The system provided a new solution which was critical to the business. Without this system a significant manual process with high manpower resource requirements would have been needed. The solution provides an automated system which reduces this requirement significantly.
Hosted on Microsoft Azure, the custom developed solution went live in April 2015 and has been successfully utilised by the main parties in the retail gas market since deployment. The success of the system is mainly due to its ability to manage process from conception to ‘case-closed’ and between a variety of user groups.