Only those construction companies that constantly optimize their processes will have long-term success. This is also true for the electrical industry in Switzerland. A well-organized IT landscape can support. However, especially bigger companies with several (widely distributed) locations have problems with central data storage, update management and user support.
In 2008, the Burkhalter Group suffered from exactly these issues. All 40 mostly autonomous companies with a total of 3.000 employees located in all 4 language areas of Switzerland were managed using one common calculation program within the leading electrical installation group in Switzerland. But almost each of those companies ran their own servers with different industry solutions and versions. Updates were distributed by means of CD’s and the data delivery into the centralized ERP system was managed via batch jobs.
To minimize maintenance costs and to maximize productivity, the managers of the Burkhalter Group decided to centralize the whole IT and instructed Canoo with the development of a new application. In particular, the following objectives were to be achieved:
- Simple and centralized operation and maintenance
- High-performing operation – independent from location and operating system
- Project, document and customer management in one application
- Connection to the existing ERP system
- Multi-client capability (management of access to companies and branches)
- Intuitive usability (consideration of different user groups and skills)
X.Elektro – one centralized solution for all companies
The Canoo engineers developed a completely new application based on Java. To do so, they relied on its own cloud-ready client framework ULC. ULC allows the development of much more intuitive user interfaces compared to common web technologies.
Canoo led the technical overall project management. During the first development stage, Canoo engineers worked closely together with the domain experts of the Burkhalter Group. These employees were usually responsible for the user support of the systems to be replaced. Requirements and needed features were gathered, estimated and prioritized during regular meetings. Afterwards, Canoo implemented the features using an iterative approach.
The first milestone of this project was the finalization of the web application X.Elektro that was already certified by the industry associations CRB and VSEI. From the beginning, this application supported all processes from quotation to capturing of reports and invoicing. Thanks to the interface to the ERP system Xpert.Line by Soreco, the Burkhalter Group benefited from always up-to-date information and a simplified employee administration.
This new solution also provided support for quotations according to VSEI/NPK, Steiger and VSAS and an interface to the online telephone book, whereby the quality of customer addresses could be improved.
Introduction and optimization
Within the next two years, X.Elektro was rolled-out to every single company of the Burkhalter Group. During this stage, both users and support staff got familiarized with the application, the new user interface and all the features.
The new industry solution was provided by Burkhalter as software as a service in their private cloud. Distributed installations including maintenance and update issues were no longer a problem. Both the new and the old system were used in parallel during the introduction phase. User feedback in regards of functionality and usability were implemented (if possible and desired by Burkhalter Group). These changes were provided via centralized updates.
Intuitive usability supports fast switch to new solution
From the beginning on, the big advantages of X.Elektro were the intuitive user interface, transparent processes and the competent and fast 3rd-level support by Canoo. The fast and easy switch to the new group-wide solution has led to an outstanding acceptance among the approximately 700 users.
X.Elektro becomes Canoo Volta
Step by step, X.Elektro has become Canoo Volta that is today in use at a number of big and small electrical installation companies in Switzerland. Canoo Volta is continuously improved and new features are steadily integrated. With “Canoo Volta Mobile” (available for iOS and Android) service engineers may capture customer data, working hours and used materials and have the customer sign the provided service directly at the construction site. The generated service reports are transferred to Canoo Volta with a click on a button and may be immediately invoiced. Mistakes due to incorrect or not completed forms as well as unnecessary working processes are avoided.
Used technologies and components
- MS SQL Server
- Jasper Reports