The energy provider of the largest city in Eastern Brandenburg supplies more than 56,000 customers with electricity, gas, and heat, achieves sales of 85 million euros, and employs around 180 people. For customer management and accounting, Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) has been using SAP R/3, the SAP IS-Utilities industry solution, and the SAP functionality for Human Resources for many years. The company aims to be a reliable partner for its customers in all areas, so highly efficient solutions are also needed in information technology.
When support for SAP R/3 4.6C ceased, a release upgrade to SAP ERP 2005 with the industry functionality SAP for Utilities was the obvious solution. The IT service provider Vattenfall Europe Information Services, one of the largest IT companies in Germany that specializes in the energy sector, drew up a suitable scenario for this in which the release upgrade would also include implementation of the SAP add-on IDEX-GE (Intercompany Data Exchange Extended – German Electricity), to enable Federal Network Agency specifications on unbundling to be met. The authority responsible for regulating the energy markets requires German energy providers to separate their production, network, and sales divisions to ensure competition in the energy and gas sector.
Another of the company’s objectives was to have its enterprise software operated by a service provider. Vattenfall Europe Information Services was able to win through here, too. “Overall, the Vattenfall IT offer is the most economically viable and best tailored to the needs of Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder),” explains Irene Ambraßat, commercial director of the engery provider.
No separate HR landscape
To reduce system and process costs, Vattenfall Europe Information Services intended to integrate previously independent functionality for human resources as a client in SAP ERP. As a result, there are no costs for supporting a separate HR system landscape, and Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) can achieve five-figure savings each year.
With the release upgrade to SAP ERP 2005, the team replaced all the functions of conventional invoice verification in the standard SAP system with logistics invoice verification, which offers the advantage of long-term support by the software vendor and provides new functions. These include posting directly to G/L accounts, invoice reduction, the automatic distribution of quantities and amounts in the case of multiple account assignment, and a new report, the “Invoice Documents” list (LIST VIEWER).
However, the switch to logistics invoice verification meant that users needed to learn new transactions with a new layout. Vattenfall simplified this by providing practical training and customer-specific training documents.
Easier search for business partners
SAP ERP enables Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) to transfer changes to legal specifications to the enterprise solution with minimal effort, because SAP maintains these modifications in the basic version.
Customizing of the enterprise software by the Vattenfall experts has simplified numerous business processes at Stadtwerke. The modifications to the business partner search in the Customer Interaction Center (CIC) were particularly well-received. If the search produces more than one hit, the whole list is retained in the CIC and users can double click various hits until they find the address they are looking for. As the list is retained until the end of contact, employees do not have to search for the required business partners multiple times using different parameters, and can therefore save a lot of time.
A modification to the IS-U Finder functionality also makes it possible to use the meter number to search for electricity customers. If there are several hits, a hit list is created. In the data environment of the navigation area – that is, the part of the CIC in which the customer is mapped with its objects – the IS-U Finder provides additional information and icons. The user can then see when the customer’s meter is read, for example, and he or she obtains information more quickly and can avoid time-consuming work processes such as displaying the meter reading unit.
Automated change of supplier
The IDEX-GE add-on, an enhancement of SAP for Utilities, enables the energy provider to switch from a single-contract to a dual-contract model for demand billing in the electricity and gas divisions. This is a key prerequisite for the unbundling required by the Federal Network Agency. An authorization concept enables IDEX-GE to perform information unbundling: If a customer changes energy provider, the sales staff of the old supplier can no longer view the customer data. If the old energy company owns the grid through which the new provider transports electricity, the grid owner’s employees only receive the corresponding information. This ensures that other energy providers’ sales are not disadvantaged.
The add-on automates the change of supplier by means of special workflows that carry out the necessary master data changes, or exchange data with other market partners, for example. The process for changing the supplier is not only used when a customer changes energy provider but also if a customer moves house. Simplified grid usage management with IDEX-GE also facilitates communication between Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) and other distributors and reduces the expense of processing energy bills.
System operation in the Vattenfall computer center
In the separation of distribution and grid data, Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) benefits from Vattenfall Europe Information Services’ certification as a SAP Special Expertise Partner for Contract Conversion Services (CCS). The first phase of the project, the technical release upgrade to ERP 2005, went into productive operation in less than five months at the end of 2006. The cost of employee training was extremely low. “Despite the technology upgrade to SAP ERP 2005, all processes remain constant and clear,” reports Dr. Silke Richter, Head of Billing/Customer Care at Vattenfall Europe Information Services. “SAP’s approach of providing additional functions in the form of standardized Enhancement Packages should guarantee an up-to-date system in the future.“
Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder) does not need to worry about maintenance of the new IT landscape. After setting up the SAP solution, Vattenfall Europe Information Services also took over the operation and support of the systems as official SAP hosting partner. “In recent years, we have set up a highly modern IT landscape that can guarantee reliable operation for our hosting customers at all times, even for business-critical processes,” stresses Janko Ellermeier, Sales Manager at Vattenfall Europe Information Services. For Stadtwerke Frankfurt (Oder), this means maximum transparency with regard to costs and the availability of their hosted SAP solutions.