Since the deregulation of the commercial water market, UK businesses are free to source their water from their choice of vendor. To cater to this emergent market, Water Plus was established, a joint venture between existing water suppliers across the midlands. Operating on a B2B basis, the company distribute water to hundreds of thousands of professional customers, nationwide.
With their billing system struggling to keep pace with their growing distribution, Water Plus challenged Shoothill to develop an application to digitally transform the process. In a competitive market, driven by tiny margins, the company were also looking to deliver value added services to their clients to distinguish themselves from other businesses. Therefore, the software should both streamline back end bill management, whilst also serving as a gateway for clients to view their data. Existing data and practices would be migrated from the obsolete legacy system.
A core objective with this project was to raise our client’s value by designing a software application which would provide excellent customer service and satisfaction with advanced features and a satisfying UX. Our design and planning team strategized a fluid and sophisticated digital transformation, with user friendly interfaces for both team members and customers, able to handle large data sets and visualise them clearly.
As a result, we developed the My Account Plus Portal, a web-based application accessible by both Water Plus employees and customers. Task automation and a simple but effective toolkit improve the speed and efficiency of the billing process end-to-end for both parties, while interpretable feedback and data visualisation assist in monitoring payments. The portal is hosted on the cloud using Microsoft Azure, and available on mobile for full around the clock accessibility. The app has a variety of features which are split over a tab structured menu of dashboard screens, for intuitive navigation. This application was constructed in C# using a .NET framework, ensuring high quality performance, whilst Knockout and Typescript were used to build the sleek front facing UI.
Users are assigned roles which allocate them permissions. Innovative tools empower customers, whilst efficient functions and data manipulation afford Water Plus control over their business. User’s with Water Plus admin roles have access to an overview of all active accounts, which can each be expanded to see customer specific information. The overview comes with a series of billing management tools.
The landing dashboard lists out each customer account for the user to browse. This overview is tabulated with further details displayed, including reference numbers and status indicators. The admin user can search and sort these accounts and expand to view their customer’s dashboard. Other tabs will take the user to a messaging service, user manager, and auditing tool.
Messages are supported between any users globally, providing an integrated means of communication to keep the business connected with its customer base. The user manager can create, edit and remove users from the system, keeping Water Plus in control of who has access to the gateway, and their permissions when using it. The application has no cap on it’s userbase, so, with cloud data storage and a quick and easy user setup, it scales up with the company’s growth. The auditing tool lists all user activity account by account, so that admin users can keep up to date and stay in control of payments.
A large undertaking during this project was the migration of Water Plus’s existing billing data to the new platform. Data manipulation in this system was handled with SQL servers, managing and organising databases. Once the legacy data had been translated to the digital transformation, the company could be afforded a previously impossible level of insight into their cashflow. Tasks once tedious and complex are rendered swift and effortless by the power to control and manage accounts efficiently.
The front-end system is a gateway for customers to access their account data, which admin users can also view by expanding the account information from their dashboard. Customer users land on a dashboard which gives a graphical breakdown of their bills, data updated daily and their billing history accessible to view or download as PDFs. This dashboard also shows a visualisation of water consumption over time to better understand charges and notifies the user of any weather or flood warnings near their registered sites. Each of these sites can be viewed separately through an asset monitoring tool with the same costing, consumption and environmental alert graphics, as well as site specific details.
The customer system also has a user manager, enabling them control over who in their organisation has access to the portal. A support page is included with an array of information providing answers to common questions, guidance using the software platform, out of hours contact details and more, as well as a query tool for issues which the support page cannot remedy. Finally, a Bing maps integration allows us to map sourced environmental data and clearly display flood and weather alerts relative to the account’s registered sites, providing insight into supply and demand.
Overall the extensive functionality of this massive project reengineers the entire billing process, cutting down on wasted time and inadequate data. The application works perfectly, fulfilling our customer’s needs, and without the need for our proactive support to keep it operational due to flawless performance. We were able to migrate an incredible volume of data from their outdated systems to the new digital solution on time, maximising its impact on their business.
The My Account Plus Portal did not reduce but removed the immense drag factor from this large and upward scaling enterprise allowing for accelerated growth and a greater quality of customer service. Migrating their complex business dealings from an outdated legacy system to this sophisticated and in-depth application has completely overhauled their customer interaction and data management, with a revolutionary effect on their workflow.
Clean and aesthetic design proved easy to use and Water Plus’s customers now have full access to theory billing history with a detailed breakdown on demand, with daily updates and informative environmental alerts. The water retailers were incredibly pleased to see their ideal virtual workspace in action, perfectly geared to their emerging business model. With a digital platform to launch their future operations from, they are set to lead the water retail market indefinitely.
A state-of-the-art software solution over its legacy predecessor allows for much faster performance, with efficient back end technology, and data integrity, with all information stored through the cloud on secure servers and easily accessed, preventing loss. Error has been removed from processes, as have delays, given the smart automation present in the application. Account tracking is as effortless as clicking a few buttons, rather than previously siloed systems and paper records. Water Plus’s entire billing system now runs smoothly through a modern solution which is easily accessed and operated.
We at Shoothill are very proud to have tackled this immense and complex project, outshining the client’s expectations to the timescale. Our professional relationship with Water Plus was sound, and we anticipate working with them further into the future, providing ongoing support for their digital transformation. Our development team thrive when challenged and delivered a quality end solution, manipulating large volumes of data and consolidating this large business’s functionality into a sleek and seamlessly cloud application.