South Staffs Water plc wanted to enable their customers to do more online by creating a digital experience that matched the high quality service that the business provides.

This would offer customers more choice for how they interact with the business, create operational efficiencies and meet the KPIs set by Ofwat, the economic regulator for the water sector.

This needed to be delivered using the infrastructure and backend systems already in place, with no disruption during the implementation and with increased levels of security.

Our solution would affect a number of different areas of the South Staffs Water business, so it was vital that we engaged with all relevant stakeholders during our Discovery process. By bringing together representatives from the customer service, marketing, infrastructure and development teams, we were able to drive out both the detail of what was required and the constraints within which we would have to work.

Having identified a number of particularly complex aspects during the Discovery, we worked iteratively through a series of technical spikes and paper prototypes. Taking this approach allowed us to prove the most appropriate solutions before any time was invested in detailed design and development.

The solution was focused around two core applications, which were carefully integrated with a number of third party systems, as well as each other, to provide customers with a seamless experience. The first of these was ‘My Account’, a bespoke application that we integrated with Rapid, one of the most widely used billing engines in the water industry. This application allowed customers to submit meter readings, pay their bill and manage their payment plan.

The second of these core applications was the frontline marketing site, which we built on Umbraco, an open source CMS. This provided the tools required by the marketing team and integrated with a custom incident management system, eGain Knowledge Base, AFD address validation and ArcGIS. All of these integrations allowed much of the content and interactions with customers to be automated.

What really set this solution apart, was the way in which we integrated with Rapid. This integration presented a major challenge, in that we needed to ensure that the whole system would be able to cope with significant spikes in traffic during busy periods, without any additional infrastructure. We achieved this by employing the circuit breaker pattern, a software development approach that enables the integration to “self heal” and, crucially, doesn’t take down the entire system if there is a failure; this allowed us to deliver the best possible customer experience.

During the project, the application was penetration tested and certified by an external Qualified Security Assessor. We also carried out capacity and load testing in order to prove that the complex integrations could cope with over 3,000 concurrent users, per instance.

Our Discovery process at work elsewhere…

The new marketing site and bespoke ‘My Account’ application was launched seamlessly, with zero disruption during the transition.

Dharmender Rai

“If we experienced any issues, Razor’s ‘whatever it takes’ and ‘can-do’ attitude made all the difference and got us through some difficult patches.
Projects become easier to execute, changes become easier to implement and problems become easier to solve with these guys on your team.”

Dharmender Rai – Head of Project Services

Customers now have access to 200% more functionality online and a 96% increase in system availability with the capacity to handle over 3000 concurrent users connected to a legacy backend integration.

Trending up

200% increase

in functionality
Users

3000+

concurrent user capacity
Trending up

96% increase

in system availability