Creating a Customer-Centric Company
But utilities aren’t the only organizations trying to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Around the world, government agencies and utilities like SSGC are facing rising expectations from citizens and politicians alike. Although SSGC is a government-sanctioned monopoly for the delivery of gas, the company knew that in order to compete and meet new expectations and revenue targets, it would have to dramatically change its approach to business. It was time to move from a traditional, bureaucratic institution to a customer-focused, profit-oriented company.
For SSGC, a key to making that transition was deploying responsive, dynamic, and centralized IT solutions that could efficiently and effectively support the business—especially in terms of customer care and back-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) functions. In order to modernize and redesign its customer-facing systems, SSGC selected Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing Enterprise Edition. “The new customer care and billing system combines the right blend of IT infrastructure, well-trained personnel, customer-centric business processes, and software applications. It also provides a technology platform integrating business processes that are aligned with leading industry benchmarks, to enable more-accurate billing, improved customer service, and business practices that enhance customer value,” says SSGC’s Siddiqui.
To streamline a diverse collection of back-end business processes and individual systems, the company also implemented a complete Oracle stack, including database, application server, and Oracle E-Business Suite, with functionality ranging from finance and purchasing to human resources, payroll, project management, asset management, balanced scorecards, and employee self-service. For business intelligence and financial analytics, SSGC chose Oracle Hyperion enterprise performance management applications.
Zafar, who spearheaded the project, feels that most implementation problems are rooted in a poor understanding of applying technology to people and to business processes. “Problems arise when people aren’t told what’s expected of them,” he says. “As sponsors of the projects, IT took on that responsibility and took people from both IT and the business through the process very extensively. The make-it-or-break-it point with our success has also been the way that Oracle has partnered and supported us,” he adds.
To help streamline business processes and integration, SSGC brought in Oracle BPEL Process Manager, a business process mapping tool, to automate and integrate processes that did not fall within the scope of its Oracle Utilities customer care and billing system and Oracle E-Business Suite, and for processes that needed to span both. In addition, SSGC uses Oracle Hyperion software for cross-application reporting, because company managers needed to bring together reports and compliance information from multiple systems, using multiple units of measure.
From an implementation perspective, SSGC’s approach has been to use as many in-house resources as possible to bring down project costs. This model has helped the SSGC team members continue developing their skill sets and has enabled the company to create a new division to provide consulting services to other companies, including utilities.
So far, SSGC has achieved a number of critical benefits from its Oracle Utilities customer care and billing and Oracle E-Business Suite systems. For example, with greater integration and visibility into its customer and accounting systems, the organization was able to identify close to 10,000 customers who were receiving service but had not been billed, resulting in new monthly additional revenues of PKR408 million per year. In addition, the streamlined business processes required significantly fewer workers to handle manual data process tasks, enabling SSGC to transfer or eliminate more than 150 personnel, resulting in yearly savings of more than PKR22 million.
The new system has also had a huge impact on the number of paper reports the utility generates. Previously, it generated a large volume of paperwork for routine business processes and reporting requirements. Now, the new Oracle E-Business Suite infrastructure allows the organization to rely primarily on electronic files and records, dramatically reducing the number of reports that were previously printed and stored. For example, SSGC has achieved a 90 percent reduction in the printing of management information system reports, saving PKR540,000 per year on paper alone. It’s also saving PKR648,000 annually from a reduction in the number of paper billing record reports that it has to store offsite, and close to PKR11.5 million through automated credit and collection processes that enable the organization to monitor overdue accounts more closely and provide increased leverage (for example, service disconnection) against nonpaying customers.