In the  increasingly competitive energy sector, operational efficiency and better utilisation of resources are keys to growth.  For one of Southern Africa’s leading energy utilities, a move to a next-generation business suite has creates the opportunity to unlock new capacity for innovation and improved productivity, which will drive the organisation’s performance.

“Our corporate strategy and business plan for 2019-2023 set an ambitious goal to focus on technology advances in our product offering, to allow us to meet the future demands and expectations of our customers and employees,” says Isac Tjombonde, Divisional Manager: Information Services at NamPower. “As an organisation, it was important for us to also be efficient in our operations.  We embarked on a mission to deliver this promise through implementing SAP S/4HANA, the next-generation go-to business suite for building an intelligent enterprise.”

NamPower is Namibia’s national power utility. The state-owned enterprise was formed in 1996 and supplies bulk electricity to Regional Electricity Distributors (REDs), mines, farms and local authorities (where REDs are not operational) throughout Namibia.

Isac Tjombonde and their team opted for an on-premise implementation, which involved converting its current SAP ECC solution into the S/4HANA platform. “This gave us the unique ability to  utilise our talent pool and the current processes as the foundation, which translated intoa fast implementation window, while giving us the ability to adapt the new functionality in the S/4HANA suite.  After we considered the benefits, costs and practicalities for each of the three S/4HANA Move options, we opted for a system conversion implementation.  This decision was critical to seamless business process migration and business continuity.”

S/4HANA move unlocks business value, innovation potential

NamPower has been an SAP customer for nearly two decades, using solutions such as SAP ERP Central Component, Business Warehouse, SAP Business Intelligence and SAP Fiori applications.

“From our perspective, the possibility of increased business value and opportunity for changing our business processes for better business outcomes was clear. We wanted to move to S/4HANA to have access to new innovations, such as embedded real-time analytics, improved user experiences, faster response times and better performance with HANA database,  as well as the possibility to adopt new technologies such as machine learning and IoT in our business processes.”

The implementation team commenced the discovery phase of the project in September 2019, working towards a four-day go-live period in October 2020.  To achieve the afore-mentioned, the team had to overcome some challenges along the way.

NamPower’s existing ERP was running on an operating system that wasn’t supported by S/4HANA, and the team had to work carefully to move the SAP database to the supported operating system prior to the conversion to S/4HANA.

“We have been using SAP ERP for 18 years, and had a number of additional add-ons installed,” says Mr Tjombonde. “One of our previous add-on modules was no longer supported in the S/4HANA environment.  As a result, we had to navigate the complexity of removing the unsupported add-on.”

Ease of implementation reduces go-live time

Isac Tjombonde initially planned for a four-day go-live.  However, thanks to the efforts of the team this was reduced to two days.  “Having gone through the implementation using our internal resources, we can testify that the SAP tools for system implementation have improved to the point where customers can manage a successful project using their internal resources.  We ended up completing the go-live in a mere two days, with minimal disruption to our business productivity, while ensuring seamless migration and business continuity.”

Since the go-live, NamPower expects to generate business value out of S/4HANA along multiple value drivers, including:

  • Improved control over business outcomes through using analytics technology for line management,
  • An improved user experience through SAP Fiori, easing adoption and increasing operational efficiency,
  • Better asset management leading to greater customer satisfaction, and
  • Greater support for project management, product research and development to improve the rollout of new strategic projects that ensure the security of supply.

“We will also leverage the Innovation Management Module within S/4HANA for a transition to using IoT in the operation of our energy plants, which will integrate to the digital core ERP data,” says Isac Tjombonde. “We hope to address other areas for innovation and improvement through S/4HANA such as the inclusion of call centre optimisation to put us on the path to better customer experiences; an even faster billing process; reduced invoice error rates; customer self-service; improved analytics; and achieving operational excellence through Intelligent Asset Management.”

Cameron Beveridge, Regional Director for Southern Africa at SAP, notes NamPower’s clear path to value for its latest S/4HANA deployment as an area of excellence. “With a team rich in experience using SAP technology to drive business performance, NamPower has achieved an outstanding implementation. With its new digital core and the embedded ability to integrate next-generation technologies such as IoT and machine learning, NamPower has set itself on a path toward becoming an intelligent enterprise, one that can adapt to changing customer and market needs.”