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Posted: 9/7/2012
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Calpine Corporation Power Company Speeds Key Processes, Frees Developer Time by 75 Percent with Intranet

Calpine Corporation, a power producer, spent too much time maintaining its intranet. It used Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to build a new, robust intranet, reducing developers’ time on content management by 75 percent and making it easy for workers to find content. Plant managers get goals metrics in minutes instead of hours. Calpine expects substantial productivity improvements in the contractor badge renewal process and major reductions in storage requirements.

Business Needs
Founded in 1984, Calpine Corporation is a Houston, Texas-based power company whose 2011 revenues were US$6.8 billion. Its commitment to efficient technologies extends from its 92 fuel-efficient power plants to IT systems such as the corporate intranet.

“Our intranet was essentially a central repository for policies and forms. It improved productivity, but not as much as we wanted. Only IT staff could add content because there was no self-service for employees,” says Kimberlie Smith, Director of Corporate Systems, IT, for Calpine Corporation.

Because the search capability was not context-sensitive, it returned too many non-applicable results. In addition, the existing intranet was based on mostly static HTML and a limited amount of outdated Classic ASP, making content time-consuming to manage. Calpine developers spent about 75 percent of their time maintaining content. When new material was published, they had to update it in multiple locations, usually by manually editing HTML.

Storage was an issue. There was no easy way to track or purge historical versions of documents, so old copies consumed an increasing amount of space. Employees were often confused about which versions were current.

Calpine experienced inefficiencies in its many manual processes. Every month, managers spent a combined 30 hours filling out paperwork to extend or deny about 150 contractors’ access badges. Gathering goal metrics about plant operations was also laborious. Managers for 92 plants each had to access 10 to 15 spreadsheets to obtain required data, which they sent to regional coordinators for compilation and analysis.

A few Calpine business groups used Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to streamline project management, but setting up a new site could take two days due to support team backlog.

In March 2011, Calpine Corporation decided to overhaul its intranet. “We began exploring whether portal technologies that Calpine already had would meet our needs. We had some licenses for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and were impressed with its improved workflow, self-service, records management, and search capabilities. It was an easy choice,” says Smith.

* Thanks to SharePoint 2010, we have a powerful, cost-effective intranet that boosts productivity and collaboration. *

Kimberlie Smith
Director of Corporate Systems, IT, Calpine Corporation

Pariveda Solutions, a Microsoft National Systems Integrator and a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with advanced Gold competencies, was also in favor of SharePoint 2010. “By using Microsoft Business Connectivity Services, we could easily integrate SharePoint with back-end finance, human resource, and plant information systems. We also liked the tile interface, which simplifies the user experience,” says John Lambie, Principal, Pariveda Solutions.

Calpine kicked off its new intranet project, called OneCalpine, in September 2011 with stakeholder interviews. It created tiles for finance, operations, employee services, and safety, and then reviewed content to determine on which tiles they would reside. From November 2011 to February 2012, Pariveda built multiple iterations of the user interface.

In May 2012, Smith’s team showed the production-ready OneCalpine to company executives. “Our executives have been very excited about using the SharePoint-based intranet, and are eager for us to create a mobile application so they can access OneCalpine via their iPads,” says Smith.

Several sites, such as a Plant Metrics Portal, Vendor Supplier Portal, and Data Center Outsourcing Project Portal, are already used by employees. The complete OneCalpine intranet is scheduled to go live in September 2012, and will be used by about 2,500 employees and 1,000 contractors.

By building OneCalpine on SharePoint 2010, Calpine Corporation reduces the burden on developers, empowers employees, speeds key processes, and saves money. “Thanks to SharePoint 2010, we have a powerful, cost-effective intranet that boosts productivity and collaboration,” says Smith.

Frees Up 75 Percent of Developer Time Spent on Content Management
Developers will no longer spend most of their time on content management tasks. “By using self-service to let employees publish and maintain their own content—and having the system automatically update new content in all relevant locations—we’ll free up about 75 percent the time developers spent on content management, so they can focus on value-added functionality such as workflows and dashboards,” says Smith.

It will be faster and easier for employees to find relevant documents. “By taking advantage of SharePoint version control, managed metadata, and enterprise search capabilities, employees can quickly locate the right versions of the right documents,” says Smith.

Accelerated Key Processes
Using the Plant Metrics portal, managers for all 92 plants submit operations metrics in a single location—the same site that regional coordinators go to analyze the information. “With our SharePoint-based intranet, we’ve eliminated tedious information gathering and analysis tasks. Plant managers can get all the info they need in minutes instead of hours,” says Smith.

The contractor badge renewal process is now faster and paperless. Every month, managers receive a link to the SharePoint Contractor Badge site, which asks for badge renewals or denials. By not manually querying managers, who then must fill out and return forms for each of about 150 contractors, Calpine saves about 360 hours annually.

Setting up a new SharePoint site takes just minutes instead of days because employees can self-provision sites.

Maximizes Investments
By taking advantage of its SharePoint 2010 licenses and using the records management capability, Calpine can purge documents, reduce storage needs, and save money. Training on the new intranet will be minimal as workers are already familiar with SharePoint.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 2500 employees

Organization Profile

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Calpine Corporation is an independent power producer whose 93 plants deliver electricity to customers in 20 US states and Canada. It has about 2,500 employees.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft Business Connectivity Services

Vertical Industries
Power & Utilities

United States


Pariveda Solutions