E.ON Ruhrgas is not only the largest gas utility company in Germany; from its headquarters in Essen, Germany, it also manages all of the parent group’s European-wide natural gas business. In 2007 alone, some 7,000 miles of E.ON Ruhrgas pipelines delivered gas equivalent to 713 billion kilowatt-hours of energy – around 530 billion kilowatt-hours of which went to Germany.
Flexible, centralized data processing
To maintain an overview of this business, E.ON Ruhrgas decided to implement a flexible information and management system for its sales and distribution department. The challenge the group faced lay in consolidating data from different IT systems that had separately grown over time.
“The goal of the new system was to process sales and distribution data centrally, thereby simplifying operational management and controlling,” remembers Peter Hackländer, the head of the implementation project at E.ON Ruhrgas. “We also wanted to improve our data quality and reduce the effort required for data maintenance.”
With these requirements in mind, the company officially invited bids for the project. Facing a very tight schedule, the IT managers at E.ON Ruhrgas had their sights set on a partner that would bring both the necessary IT competency and experience in the gas sector to the table. In the end, a concept from Siemens came out on top.
“The highly intuitive, user-friendly solutions Siemens proposed for the management cockpit and reporting system won us over,” Hackländer says.
Bernd Klementz, head of IT in the project, adds: “Siemens provided the implementation experience required, and the system fit seamlessly into our IT strategy; these were key elements from an IT perspective.” The fact that both sides already knew each other from previous projects was another argument for their collaboration.
Systematic sales, distribution, and management
Following discussions over design and a comprehensive analysis of the current situation, the IT experts at Siemens developed a prototype and then tested its real-world usability along with E.ON Ruhrgas. From these findings, they formed a flexible system designed to be easily adjustable in case new requirements arose.
The new sales and distribution management system imports data extracted from existing sources, processes it in a standardized manner, and feeds it into business intelligence software. This increases the quality of the data and makes the application much more flexible and dynamic.
“We used standard tools to create a specific solution for E.ON Ruhrgas, one that enables the company to process key figures from different applications individually and intuitively,” explains Thomas Müller, head of the implementation project for the management system at Siemens IT Solutions and Services. To enable various evaluations with just a few mouse-clicks, the Siemens experts also installed an intranet solution based on interactive Web technologies.
Three modules, one system
The new system comprises three modules:
- The first is a JavaEE application that was developed for the SAP NetWeaver technology platform in SAP NetWeaver, Development Subscription. It registers and verifies all data in the form of comma-separated value (CSV) tables, integrating all of the information from the different source systems in the process. The solution calculates the complex performance indicators and passes them on to the business intelligence application for analysis. Any errors that occur appear immediately in a detailed log file, enabling the sales and distribution controlling department to take swift action.
- The second module, the management cockpit, visualizes the system’s key figures. Comparisons of current and target situations clearly reveal and analyze deviations, while the graphics give E.ON Ruhrgas managers a constant overview of the key management values.
- Meanwhile, the third module supports individual evaluations in standard reports. They can incorporate specific characteristics such as segments or regions and break them down to the finest level of detail.
Less effort, more flexibility
Following the six-months-long implementation of its first version, a number of components were added to the sales and distribution management system in March 2009. “An ambitious schedule,” Müller says in review of the implementation. “We only completed it on time because we were able to rely on existing concepts, experience, and the above-average dedication of the teams on both sides.”
Such dedication has paid off.
“Our employees are happy with this flexible evaluation tool that saves them unnecessary effort. Using the system is self-explanatory, and it delivers all of the important data in a matter of seconds,” Hackländer says.
Because of this success, E.ON Ruhrgas is already contemplating similar projects in other company areas.