Better workflow, automation and forms management helped Memphis Light, Gas and Water dramatically improve company operations and the customer experience.
Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division (MLGW) is the largest three-service municipal utility in the U.S. with more than 420,000 customers. Owned by the city of Memphis (hence its name) MLGW has provided electricity, natural gas and water for residents of Memphis and Shelby County since 1939.
The Utility also operates one of the largest artesian well systems in the world that delivers water to more than 254,000 customers over a distribution network that measures more than 4,650 miles.
Supporting and managing the IT efforts for this vast network of services is Cynthia Jones , Supervisor of Data Analytics and Software Integration. Her team of 12 assists 2500 employees who need access to web applications, forms, policies and “how to” documentation. All of these are delivered through iHub, the company intranet.
Top on the list of business process management priorities was a workflow software solution for automating the workflows and complex system of forms that are used to manage MLGW’s business . Jones wanted to dramatically reduce the sheer volume of paper documents and put an end to delays caused by routing bottlenecks and the need for multiple approvers across different locations.
Jones recalled that “An average form that MLGW uses has three signatures – and could have a maximum of eight. We typically wait a minimum of one day for documents to transfer between locations. As a result, one form could take two weeks to get all the signatures from the approximately 20 locations – and, at any point in time, we could be routing 100 different forms. The need to find a more effective and efficient solution was obvious.”
Jones’ IT team began with Google searches and contacted 12 BPM vendors to request free BPM software demos. After seeing the demos the team short-listed four then sent an RFP to that short list. Among the most important factors were that the solution be:
- Browser-based to support both internal and external users
- Integrate seamlessly within MLGW’s existing environment
- Provide electronic routing and approval at multiple levels
- Use LDAP authentication
- Facilitate electronic signatures
- Convert electronic templates easily
- Send out notifications via GroupWise
- Provide a publication process
- Reside on MLGW’s hardware
- Be competitively priced
While IT were champions of the initiative, the Environmental Engineering department became a key contributor from the business side – and worked closely with Jones’ team to develop the cost-justification as well as the requirements. BP Logix's Process Director, met both the technical and business criteria and was selected by MLGW.
To facilitate an early win, Jones’ team decided on a phased approach to automating workflows and forms. Phase 1 BPM implementation included the document workflow processes for network and systems security access cards, project cost justification and equipment requests – and a total of 25 of the most commonly used forms. “The ability to authenticate users and provide electronic signatures was a critical aspect of our decision. Equally important was the ability to delegate approval, encrypt data and send email notifications to approvers, ” Jones observed.
With the initial phase completed, the team then took requests from a variety of internal customers. As a result, it already has 22 smart forms in production and use – and more in the planning stage. The MLGW team has found it can do a lot more than initially anticipated. The flexibility of Process Director is one of its strengths and, according to Jones, “One of the benefits we are aware of already is that it will be easier to survive audits!”
As people are moving to smart devices being able to approve documents on-the-go without a physical piece of paper is invaluable.” I think moving towards mobile devices is the way companies will remain competitive – and we are a service-oriented company,” Jones said.
In Process Director MLGW has found a BPM software solution that enables the company to provide the output of a development organization without the overhead. To learn more about the organizational and operational advantages the company has achieved with Process Director, read the Memphis Light Gas and Water customer profile.
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