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.
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.
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.
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.