SWN Stadtwerke Neumünster Beteiligungen GmbH – Introducing a digital mobile order processing system – With Power Apps.

SWN Stadtwerke Neumünster Beteiligungen GmbH (SWN Beteiligungen) is a purely municipal group that is 100% owned by the city of Neumünster. It controls the SWN Stadtwerke Neumünster GmbH, SWN Entsorgung GmbH, SWN Bäder and Freizeit GmbH and SWN Verkehr GmbH. Over the last few years, SWN has been adjusting its work processes and structures with the aim of harmonising technology and people. Bechtle created a cloud-based mobile app for technicians’ order processing using Microsoft Power Apps, which creates an interface to the existing on-premise system.

Project details.

  • Software
  • Professional Services
  • Public sector
  • Microsoft
  • 250–1,500 employees

Challenge.

SWN Stadtwerke Neumünster Beteiligungen GmbH (SWN Beteiligungen) and its subsidiaries are responsible for the quality of life in and around Neumünster. In its role as a holding, the group controls the municipal utilities, waste disposal, public baths and traffic, and also delivers electricity, gas and heating to Neumünster and surrounding area. Within the framework of its digital transformation, SWN is completely rethinking its approach. The exchange of data across divisions and business areas and the automation of many processes are crucial to enabling a more efficient and higher quality standard of work, with customer satisfaction always in the spotlight.

For example, if a SWN technician connects up a house, up until 2017, data was recorded manually and back in the office, another employee would enter the data into the system. To do this, a lot of different software tools were used, resulting in a lot of disruptive data exchanges that led to errors. This couldn’t continue, so the hunt was on for a uniform digital solution with which the technicians could view their orders, document work and record their hours, which would, in turn, be forwarded to the invoicing system. SWN wanted a mobile app to complement its in-house IT as and when needed.


As a result of increasing digitalisation, we are able to completely rethink our corporate processes. For example, we were looking for a digital connection to the order processing system for our technicians working out in the field. The mobile app created by Bechtle with Power Apps now significantly automates on-site work. It is convenient, saves time and money and is easily scalable. In fact, the app has been so successful that we are already working with Bechtle on a follow-up project.

Frank Wehmann, Head of IT, SWN Stadtwerke Neumünster Beteiligungen GmbH


Solution.

Together with Bechtle, SWN looked into if such a mobile app was feasible with Power Apps. Bechtle analysed the status quo and data sets and it quickly became clear that on-premise data was going to have to be moved to SharePoint Online in order to be able to use the app in a meaningful and affordable way. For this purpose, Bechtle created an interface with Azure Logic Apps to migrate order data from the on-premise system to SharePoint Online and to feed the working hours recorded in the mobile app back to the accounting system. The Bechtle experts programmed the app in such a way that data matching takes place every night. In parallel, the SWN used Power Apps to create a dummy version of the app with all necessary features, from which Bechtle were able to quickly configure a working prototype based on Power Apps, SharePoint Online, Logic Apps and PowerAutomate. Together, Bechtle and SWN carried out extensive testing and further developed the app. Finally, one-off tests in real-life situations showed the technicians, IT department and Bechtle which features were still missing and which required more work.

During the course of the project, Bechtle incorporated particular requests, for example, the technicians can see the jobs assigned to them in the app, record their working hours and status and also upload pictures and documents to maintain an overview of everything. These photos and documents can be viewed in real-time by the planning department so that they can always provide transparent information when communicating with customers. Should there be no network coverage, the app collects the data offline to transmit it at a later point. Other wishes and updates requested by SWN were collated for implementation in a follow-up project.

Business benefits.

The mobile app created by Bechtle is a mobile order processing system perfectly tailored to SWN’s requirements. It is more efficient, modern and faster than the old paper-based manual process. The app maps all of SWN’s data and doesn’t even allow it to entered incorrectly saving the company both time and a lot of money. Thanks to Bechtle’s documentation and partial shadow programming, SWN can make small changes themselves with all larger adjustments and yet-to-be-implemented features to be tackled in an upcoming project with Bechtle.