Facts About the Information Request process

Over 1,500

information requests submitted, on average, to FortisBC during an information request process.

Over 140,000

person hours needed to complete a usual information request process.

3 weeks

is generally the required timeframe for FortisBC to compile all responses and complete the process.

The Challenge

Manage the information

Each time FortisBC looks to change its rates or expand its services or operations, it must respond to information requests from the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) and interested participants. FortisBC generally has three weeks to respond to thousands of inquiries, and the amount of data needed to compile the responses can easily overwhelm employees and the existing intranet.

Improve communication and accountability

FortisBC wanted a solution that would help employees work together to share knowledge and complete each information request as timely and thoroughly as possible.

The Solution

An information request system

Habanero designed the Information Request System (IR system) to help FortisBC better manage the information request process. An add-on to the company’s existing employee portal, the IR system is customized to handle the massive amounts of data necessary to respond to and complete the information request process.

Information requests often are in the form of a question that asks FortisBC about topics such as cost, environmental impact, and project timelines. The IR system collects every individual request and puts them into a workflow.

The workflow allows three levels of FortisBC employees—approvers, responders, and revisers—to research and reply to each request. The responses and questions are then collected by the IR system into one large document. The request document is then created as a Microsoft Word file, which FortisBC can then present for review to the BCUC

Customized landing page

The landing page is a user’s first interaction with the IR system. Here, an employee can see the status of the requests assigned to them and prioritize their work accordingly. The page also contains a tab called Vital Signs where everyone can see the progress of each request, allowing for a more open and efficient work process.

Springboard

Users primarily interact with the solution through the springboard. This feature allows employees to open pending information requests and begin drafting their responses in Microsoft Word documents. The springboard is the link between the Word documents that contain information request responses and the IR system.

Modal fragment details

This feature is important for employees who manage the information request process. IR coordinators can see which requests are outstanding and where other responses are in the process. This helps FortisBC manage upcoming deadlines and ensure responders, approvers, and reviewers are adequately resourced.

Information Request set site

This is the culmination of the entire information request process. IR coordinators can compile all the individual Word fragments into a master document. This collection of responses is then submitted to the BCUC for review, marking the end of an information request process. FortisBC can also store the response internally for future analysis.

The Outcome

FortisBC estimates that the development and implementation of the IR system has saved several hundred thousand dollars per year in productivity improvements and efficiencies.

The solution has also reduced the labour costs that would have been required to manage the process given the ever increasing volumes of information requests FortisBC continues to face.

Before this implementation, FortisBC employees were manually managing the process using individual Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. These documents were hard to share and presented version control challenges.

The IR system manages the entire end-to-end process, providing responders and approvers more time to thoroughly assess each request and ensuing response. FortisBC has seen the quality of responses improve because the IR system allows reviewers and approvers to see content as it is being created, and therefore, can provide more timely feedback.

FortisBC has not missed a BCUC deadline since implementing the IR system. Staying within the scheduled deadline has saved FortisBC from possibly incurring penalties for not complying with filing deadlines and decreased the potential of negative impacts on a project from a delay, lost opportunity, or increased costs.

The Information Request System has shifted the focus away from what was once a very labour intensive cycle and transformed it into an automated, integrated, and collaborative environment that allows valuable time, energy, and resources to focus on providing the best quality content.

Ilva Bevacqua, Manager, Regulatory and Compliance Administration

Implementation Details

  • Built on the SharePoint 2010 platform
  • Custom Microsoft Word add-on
  • Personalization based on role
  • Automated workflow