Many municipal and regional governments lack the resources needed to build and maintain e-government portals. To help these organizations, Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Spenta Consulting built the Citizen Service Platform (CSP) core framework, now available as open-source software, by using the xRM business application framework. Spenta Consulting also created the full-featured CSP Citizen Portal Extended Edition solution, which takes advantage of xRM to meet unique public sector requirements like citizen case management, accessibility compliance, and secure e-forms. By taking advantage of xRM resources, Spenta Consulting was able to save 50 percent of the development effort required for relationship management aspects of the project.
||The xRM framework helped us save approximately 50 percent of the development effort for the relationship management aspects of the solution compared to creating those components ourselves.
||Gerard Esparducer, Product Manager, Spenta Consulting
To provide their constituents with efficient service on the Web, many municipal and regional governments spend large amounts of money licensing and customizing business software packages or multiproduct solutions. Once built, these systems are expensive to maintain and difficult to modify. Based in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Spenta Consulting offers a more flexible, cost-effective alternative with solutions targeted directly at the public sector and built by using Microsoft products and technologies.
Spenta Consulting proved so deft in this line of work that Microsoft commissioned the company to create the Citizen Service Platform (CSP) core framework, which is now available as an open-source project on CodePlex.com. These accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics® CRM and Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007 enable government organizations to quickly create e-government solutions that comply with specific accessibility and data protection policies. However, Spenta Consulting wanted to go beyond the accelerator approach to meet the needs of existing and potential clients.
Spenta Consulting provided municipalities and regional governments with an integrated citizen portal and case management solution that the organizations could easily deploy and maintain. To build the solution, Spenta Consulting used Office SharePoint Server 2007 and xRM, the business application framework that underpins Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
“xRM provided us with many building blocks for our application—things like role-based security, a forms designer, a report builder, a workflow engine, and database support,” explains Daniel Sabater, Software Architect for Spenta Consulting and Microsoft Dynamics MVP. “By taking advantage of the resources available in xRM, we were able to build a competitive solution in three months with three developers.”
Because of their previous experience with the Microsoft .NET Framework, the development team was immediately familiar with the xRM object model. “For developers experienced with the .NET Framework, working with xRM is very straightforward,” says Sabater. “It provides a good object model and easy-to-use Web services.”
So that their solution retained all the functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the development team was careful to follow best practices for developing with xRM. “The way we use the core framework means that our customers can use the full functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in addition to our solution—and at no additional cost,” says Gerard Esparducer, Product Manager for Spenta Consulting.
To make it easier for government employees to track relationships with citizens, Spenta Consulting created a new interface called the Citizen Contact Center by using Microsoft Silverlight™. Says Esparducer, “Our goal with the Citizen Contact Center was to streamline how employees interacted with citizens and to reduce the number of clicks required to find and act on information.”
|Spenta enhanced its xRM application interface by using Microsoft Silverlight.|
Spenta Consulting is working with a group of roughly 110 municipalities in Spain to set up a hosted version of its portal solution, taking advantage of the multitenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) functionality available in xRM. This will lower the overall cost of ownership for the participating municipalities. Says Esparducer, “We are excited to take advantage of hosting in xRM because it promises much greater efficiency, which means lower costs for our customers and increased profitability for us.” Spenta Consulting is also consulting with Microsoft about creating an economical hosted version of the citizen portal for government entities in the developing world. Because of Spenta Consulting’s success with xRM, Microsoft invited the company to share its experiences at the Business Action World Tour in Spain.
||By taking advantage of the resources available in xRM, we were able to build a competitive solution in three months with three developers.
||Daniel Sabater, Software Architect, Spenta Consulting
By taking advantage of the xRM business application framework, Spenta Consulting offers a cost-effective solution that addresses the key needs of municipalities and regional governments. “The xRM framework is a tremendous benefit to business application developers like us who want to quickly develop a relational business application,” says Esparducer. “We can bring a compelling solution to market in a short period of time without worrying about infrastructure ‘plumbing.’”
50 Percent More Efficient Development
By using xRM and Office SharePoint Server 2007, Spenta Consulting dramatically reduced the development effort needed to create a citizen portal. Says Esparducer, “The xRM framework helped us save approximately 50 percent of the development effort for the relationship management aspects of the solution compared to creating those components ourselves.”
Spenta Consulting delivered a more robust solution by using xRM. Instead of working on the security model, database support, and other infrastructure concerns, the development team was able to deliver the specific features their government customers wanted, such as electronic signatures, time stamping, data protection, and Web accessibility.
Full-Featured E-Government Solution
Despite the relatively short time required to create the solution, the CSP Citizen Portal Extended Edition offers robust capabilities that make it an attractive alternative to licensing and integrating many different software products. For example, Spenta Consulting used xRM to build an e-forms capability that meets critical government accessibility and security requirements and to create powerful collaboration features that otherwise would require business process management software.
Says Esparducer, “xRM helped us tailor our solution to the needs of municipalities and regional governments and compete with multiproduct solutions. We’ve effectively met a number of public sector needs that would otherwise be very difficult for our customers to address.”
Easy to Deploy, Maintain, and Extend
Spenta Consulting made every effort to keep its solution simple, even developing the software in such a way that customers can install it by using a wizard in most cases. In addition, customers can easily maintain and extend the portal solution because of the entity and workflow management built into xRM. Says Sabater, “Our aim was for customer IT teams to completely take this over and maintain and extend the solution on their own. Now, they can do things like add a new line of service for constituents without writing a single line of code.”
What is xRM?
xRM is a declarative business application framework that surfaces the full power of the Microsoft application platform to accelerate the development and delivery of enterprise-class, relational business applications.
Resources to build, test, and market your solution based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM: www.microsoft.com/isv
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