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These days, customers can choose between a variety of energy providers (image: Fotolia)
These days, customers can choose between a variety of energy providers (image: Fotolia)

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the energy industry is facing a more intelligent future: smart grids, smart homes, and smart metering are already on the rise, and renewable energies such as wind, hydroelectric, and solar power are replacing conventional sources.

In the article “An Industry with Staying Power,” we delved into the details of the new functions energy providers can look forward to in their SAP software – and especially those already released for SAP Business Suite in 2010.

Among SAP’s offerings for the utilities industry are SAP for Utilities and SAP Waste and Recycling. These applications are tailored to the specific needs of energy producers, grid operators, and metering companies involved in gas, water, and electricity.

In particular, SAP software supports utility companies in the following processes:

  • Human resource / talent management (including payroll)
  • Energy capital management (energy portfolio management, integration of smart meter data)
  • Financial performance management (analysis, reporting, statements, GRC)
  • Enterprise asset management (transparency, security, performance)
  • Operations management (market communication, provider selection, procurement)
  • Sales, marketing, service (customer contact management, customer segmentation, campaign management)

In this article, you can learn more about the new functions available in the package SAP Customer Relationship Management and Billing for Utilities.

Screenshot of the user interface in SAP CRM 7.0 (Screenshot: SAP AG)
Screenshot of the user interface in SAP CRM 7.0 (Screenshot: SAP AG)

SAP Customer Relationship Management and Billing for Utilities

First, let’s take a quick trip back through the history of SAP CRM. The application has been around more or less in its current form for 10 years: Released in 2001, SAP CRM 3.0 supported virtually every process in sales and marketing, including call center activities. Analysis functions then arrived in 2002 in SAP CRM 3.1, followed by sales processes for specific industries a year later.

SAP CRM 7.0 has been available since 2009, and SAP released the first enhancement package for the application in 2010.

These days, CRM software has to meet and manage the demands that come with a liberalized energy market, switch-happy customers, fierce competition, and complex legal requirements. This is one of the reasons why SAP CRM is directly integrated with the SAP for Utilities solution portfolio.

SAP CRM aids utility companies in their sales, marketing, and service activities, and we’ll get straight to the latest key innovations: Users can send offers to customers in real time while selecting from a portfolio of alternative energies, and the application now also supports integration with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

In marketing, SAP CRM supports the following processes:

  • Resource management
  • Campaign management
  • Real-time offer management
  • Analysis
  • Market segmentation and target group selection
  • E-marketing
  • Lead management

For sales employees, meanwhile, the application offers these functions:

  • Revenue planning
  • Management of business partners and other contacts
  • Quote and sales order management
  • Quote calculation
  • Commission and incentive management
  • Territory management
  • Activity management
  • E-commerce
  • Pricing agreements and contracts
  • Sales analysis

Finally, the following features are available with regard to services:

  • Integration of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
  • Resource and shift planning
  • Warranty processing
  • Service order management
  • Case management
  • Interaction Center
Solar cells and wind turbines are energy sources of the future (image: Fotolia)
Solar cells and wind turbines are energy sources of the future (image: Fotolia)

Add-ons and functional enhancements

The Interaction Center (IC) WebClient in SAP CRM 7.0 helps service employees get a handle on massive amounts of customer data, with account status updates, alerts concerning expiring contracts and other critical events, and an integrated toolbar providing the necessary overview of all activities.

SAP CRM also supports integration with Microsoft Office.

Meanwhile, SAP CRM includes a quote and contract management component in SAP Pricing and Costing for Utilities, which itself comes integrated with SAP’s energy portfolio management functions. Available as an add-on for SAP CRM 7.0 and for SAP ERP 6.0 (EHP 4 or later), the application offers a uniform UI for the sales and quotation process, as well as invoice templates and special forms for cost creation, income settlement, and meter reading. Contract invoices can also be incorporated seamlessly into the overall quotation process.

The SAP partner crm consulting AG – a Cronos Group company – offers software based on SAP CRM for utility companies. Its application contains functions for account and activity management, sales process management (inquiries and contracts), lead and opportunity management, marketing, and more. UI configuration tools and a central database are also included.