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October 14, 2013

How Modern ERP Billing Packages are changing Indian Utilities

Over the last decade and the years before Indian Utilities have undergone a series of fundamental changes; right from how they operate to how they provide services to their consumers. Having tasted the benefits on unbundling as early as 2000, many utilities are aggressively following the path toward modernization and improving customer experience. 

In this attempt many of the major utility players have partnered will global leaders in ERP billing packages to successfully transform their businesses, in order to respond to fast-changing customer and market dynamics. SAP for Utilities (ISU) and Oracle Customer Care and Billing (OCCB) are leading choices to fit the bill.  

The Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board or CSEB was one of the first to implement SAP - ISU/CCS (Customer Care and Service) in 2005, and one of the few state boards that are now electricity surplus.

Indian utilities are now providing comprehensive services to their consumers, backed up by the robust industry specific software of the ERP packages. Some of these include:

·         Quick Tariff Restructuring - Inaccuracy of tariff implementation has been a major challenge faced by Indian Utilities. The legacy systems were incapable of handling frequent changes in tariff thus leading to revenue losses for the utilities, which were not able to keep up with the ever rising cost of electricity generation and transmission. But both SAP-ISU and OCCB have strong billing modules that support detailed tariff customization for commercial and residential customers. The short turnaround time ensures that utilities can react quickly to market fluctuations and adjust their tariff accordingly to recover revenues.

·         Spot Billing and Automatic Meter Reading - CSEB consumers have the facility of on the spot billing and automatic meter reading. Earlier there was a gap of about eight days between meter read and bill delivery. But the ability to spot bill eliminated the delay resulting in reduced cycle times and early revenue realization. 

 

Gujarat Gas that uses SAP-ISU even provides its customers an option to enter their meter readings online. A first of its kind service, for Indian Utilities. 

·         Ensured Metering - Indian Utilities have had to battle electricity pilferage for a long time and it continues to be a challenge today. This can be prevented by ensuring that every connection is metered and read. The strategy has already been implemented by the state of Gujarat. The government of Gujarat reached an agreement with the Asian Development Bank to fund the installation of meters at all delivery locations. Coupled with strong policy deterrent against theft and implementation of Oracle solution for E-Governance, the Gujarat State Electricity Board (GSEB) was able to recover over Rs. 16 crore by curbing pilferage and malpractice. 

·         Online Customer Portals - Almost all major utilities now have online customer portals where users can log in, view billing history, pay bills online, lodge complaints, request new connections etc.  SAP Netweaver's seamless interoperability with J2E, .NET and SOA make it an ideal platform for this purpose. SLA driven services and incident resolution have truly, empowered the customer and brought in high level of visibility and accountability that was otherwise missing.  

Online bill payment facility and e-delivery of bills has significantly reduced the turnaround time of revenue collection and also cost of having to maintain manual payment collection centers. Customer complaints of late bill delivery and incorrect meter readings have come down and such steps also promote green initiatives by reducing amount of paper consumed.

 

Notable success stories worth mentioning include GSEB , CSEB and MPSEB (Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board) that once struggled with electricity deficit are now electricity surplus and able to provide 24x7 electricity to their consumers.

Few other Indian Utilities that have transformed their operations by implementing ERP billing solutions include:

1.       IGL - Indraprastha Gas Ltd

2.       Mahanagar Gas

3.       HPSEB - Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board

4.       NPCL - Noida Power Company Limited

Improved decision making, better asset utilization, complete processes for meter to cash cycle etc. are few on the notable benefits that ERP billing packages have to offer. In addition they are scalable and customizable to overcome the challenges of all kind of utilities; both big and small. As more and more Indian Utilities join the ERP club, the consumer can look forward to a more rewarding experience with his energy supplier.

 

August 6, 2013

Should SAP Build MDM with SAP HANA ?

 

MDM (Meter Data Management ) and SAP HANA are the frequently heard buzzwords when working in Utility industry. Recently I thought of a question on why should Utility company opt/buy both MDM and SAP HANA ? Though the two products results in different outputs, huge data storage and processing is common in both the products. Why should Utility pay for 2 different products for storage of huge data which is commonly used as input to get different results ? Can SAP build functionalities of MDM in HANA in future which will reduce the cost and maintenance of one product.

Continue reading " Should SAP Build MDM with SAP HANA ? " »

July 23, 2013

Utility- New Frontiers and IT Challenges

            The utility entities have been long considered as perennially content. Coming out of the clutches of municipalities / government & getting owned by shareholders has completely changed the game plan. Maintaining revenue with regulated tariff is no more sufficient. The deregulation & consequent emergence of small price players have compounded already precarious condition of old energy retailers.

Continue reading " Utility- New Frontiers and IT Challenges " »

May 29, 2013

Honey I Shrunk the Batch Window: SAP HANA and the IS-U Batch

Batch window is an important time frame for a utility's meter to cash daily processing in a SAP IS-Utilities system. This is the time when some of the real business processes of the utility are being executed. Batch window usually starts late in the evening and finishes early in the morning.

Continue reading " Honey I Shrunk the Batch Window: SAP HANA and the IS-U Batch " »

February 14, 2013

The pitfalls of Agile software development

Since the late 1990's several methodologies for developing software have begun to get increasing public attention. Each had a different combination of old and new methodologies or were evolvements of old methodologies. But all emphasized on close collaboration between the technical team and the business experts; face-to-face communication leading to short communication channels and less misinterpretation of expectations. Software is delivered on a more frequent basis and each delivery has business value in mind. Teams are self organizing; roles are clear but also interchangeable and no hierarchy exists.

Continue reading " The pitfalls of Agile software development " »

March 29, 2012

Static or Dynamic Data Management.. SAP NetWeaver CE has the answer

Authors: Ranjeet Kumar Jha and Amit Gupta

Abstract

SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) has capability to design dynamic user interfaces that can suit various business needs. The benefit of using the dynamic user interfaces is that they can provide an easily scalable solution without needing constant development to meet varying business requirements of interaction with data that differs based upon markets/ geographies/ product lines/ divisions in an organization.

Through our trilogy of blogs we would like to share our experience around the business case and solution approach involving dynamic user interfaces.
 

Continue reading " Static or Dynamic Data Management.. SAP NetWeaver CE has the answer " »

February 23, 2012

The Consumer's Disruptive Role in Utility Industry!

Energy Technology is now accessible to mass consumers. Consumers have become more active in managing energy efficiency and renewable energy generation. Their connectivity to Utility network has changed traditional consumers to become suppliers. This source of supply creates intermittent uncontrolled reverse energy flow and is outside the control of Utility in majority of cases. Let us understand the reasons and impact to the existing Operational & Information Technology due this change and see whether we are ready to adopt it.

 

Why consumers do?

- Worried about climate change

- Cornered about energy price

- Take control on energy availability/ continuity

 

What consumers do?

- Implement renewable energy generation

- Run our own efficiency program

- Connect to Utility Network

 

 What it means to Utilities?

- Consumption Node in the network is now a source of power!

- Supply will be intermittent!

 

What major impact it will have on Operational & Information Technology?

- Existing OT systems are not flexible and scalable for reverse energy flows

- Consumer control or delegated control to Utility - additional OT requirements

- Real time models with instantaneous dispatchable energy

- Need for Intelligent Grid creation with communication infrastructure

- Self healing distributed control systems in place of central monitoring

- Customer as Supplier means a huge process change to IT systems

- Metering & Meter data management for two way flow

- Pricing/ revenue business process change management

- Carbon credit trading for large customers

 

Now the question is....

Distributed renewable energy source maybe a challenge to manage operationally today. But, do we envisage this will force advancement for our grid to be smart and energy efficient? Looking forward to hear from you.

 

November 1, 2011

Utilities can address Electric Vehicle Challenges with SAP Solutions

Electric Vehicle adoption is becoming a reality worldwide and it is growing at an accelerated pace. Automobile manufacturers across the globe are focusing on developing electric vehicles for mass consumption. The developed nations specifically are seeing this growth which is fueled by numerous factors like:

Continue reading " Utilities can address Electric Vehicle Challenges with SAP Solutions " »

May 12, 2010

Minimize your Customization & Accelerate your Realization - Part III

In Part I and II of this blog we discussed about how package applications provide solution for an integrated Customer Care & Billing system. But with extensive package customization the benefits are overshadowed. However, with a pre-configured package solution, much of the customization can be pre-built and adopted as a hyper package thus reducing the realization period. Part III of this blog will provide insight into the pre-configured package solution available from Infosys for Utility Billing and Customer Care functions. Also suggested is to read fellow Infoscion Parmarth's blog on CIS modernization and the need for an integrated customer care & billing system here.

Continue reading " Minimize your Customization & Accelerate your Realization - Part III " »

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