Fast, Flawless and Transparent: Change Processes in Measurement
The introduction of “Change Processes in Measurement” has allowed customers to freely choose their meter operators, which in turn calls for simplified and fast processing. With the deadline of October 1, 2011, it was necessary to standardize the predefined processes of the German Federal Network Agency and to provide the infrastructure for its automated processing:
Establishing new processes for metering point operation and metering service providers
Ensuring problem-free comparison of master data and the changes made to it
Approach and Results
Based on inubit, the required processes such as collection, processing and distribution of the relevant measurement information were introduced:
- Definition of the special requirements of AÜW; jointly developed criteria catalog
- Checking incoming messages for validity and plausibility
- Involving an employee if an application fails the automated check
- Straightforward status display of processes and messages of the transmitted market data with the the Process Monitor
- Deadline monitor for depicting deadlines with the aid of Gantt charts
- Reports on the number of implemented or rejected change processes
- Connection to the SAP IS-U system through an SAP add-on
After only three months of project duration, the tailor-made solution was ready to be implemented at a central site for the gathering of data on market and communication partners, as well as checking, managing and completing the processing of incoming change applications:
- An estimated cutting in half of the case processing time as compared to manual processing
- Clear increase in the quality of the processed applications
- Adaptation of the GPKE and GeLiGas processes for changing suppliers
Automation of change processes in measurement (WiM)
Until recently, only few electricity customers changed their metering service provider. In preparing itself for the future, Allgäuer Überlandwerk, with the support of Bosch Software Innovations, has automated the WiM processes (Change Processes in Measurement). The company has already benefited from this move with a halving of the case processing time alongside process quality that is manually unachievable.
As regional electricity provider, Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH (AÜW) with headquarters in Kempten has supplied electricity for nearly 90 years to households which today number more than 94,000. The top priority is always to offer customers a high degree of security in energy supplies and good service.
With the liberalization of measurement systems and the newly established “Change Processes in Measurement” (WiM), additional legal requirements followed which it was necessary to meet. Customers can freely choose their meter operators, which in turn calls for simplified and fast processing. Energy providers such as AÜW thus face the challenge of introducing new processes for metering point operation and metering service (collecting, processing and distribution of the relevant measurement information) and ensuring problem-free comparison of the master data and the changes made to it.
The decision for a standard solution
For Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH as service provider for the network operator AllgäuNetz, this means: According to the statutory deadline, the relevant processes were to be standardized by October 1, 2011 and the infrastructure for their automated processing put in place. “From the perspective of the AÜW, this meant that the highly complex WiM tasks needed to be integrated in the existing processing and IT landscapes while adapting the available processes”, said Werner Kessler, IT manager at Allgäuer Überlandwerk, describing the challenges. Since this proved to be a time-consuming and labor-intensive endeavor, the decision was made at AÜW to draw on an already commercially available standard solution, one which would provide all future required format and process adjustments through a software maintenance contract. The solution of Bosch Software Innovations offered the decisive advantage of being able to meet all requirements quickly at an agreed upon price. Furthermore, adjustments in the area of supplier change (GPKE and GeLiGas), which had become necessary due to the harmonization of change processes in measurement, could also be implemented
with the staff of Bosch Software Innovations. A team consisting of AÜW staff, AllgäuNetz staff and Bosch Software Innovations staff collaboratively developed the criteria catalog for a solution which would exceed the standard requirements in satisfying the individual needs and system environment of the AÜW. To do this, the team first tested the software in a test environment, undertook error corrections in frequent intervals and adapted the solution. Thanks to their participation in this process, AÜW staff were able to familiarize themselves with the software so well that further trainings were no longer necessary.
A special feature of the implementation of the WiM solution was the integration into the SAP IS-U system. For this, an SAP add-on was developed which integrates the SAP system directly as a backend system in the WiM processes. In it various functions are mapped, which enable both reading and writing access to the required master data, such as metering point information or customer data. In addition, the implementation of process elements, e. g. meter installation and removal, are automatically executed in the SAP system unnecessary.
Staff intervene only in the event of errors in the process
What happens in detail: Incoming messages are immediately checked for validity and plausibility. Only if an application fails the automated check, an employee will be involved in the review process. In the end, the employee always decides whether to approve the change or reject it based on lack of information. To maintain an overview of the applications, AÜW staff use the Process Monitor. This tool graphically represents the processing and message status of the transmitted market data and compiles reports on the number of implemented or rejected change processes. Werner Kessler on the advantages for the end user: “This function is particularly important for our staff, since they can access and actively control processes very simply here by clicking buttons.
This means that the user ultimately handling the change process is not distracted by the complex procedures occurring in the background.” And should deadlines become tight, the deadline monitor supports AÜW staff by showing deadlines clearly, visualizing them with the aid of Gantt charts, and escalating tasks if a failure to meet the deadline threatens. “Our staff always have insight as to where the application currently stands in the processing”, Kessler continues. “Should an application fail the automated check, they are notified with a message and can intervene exactly at the point where the unclarity arose. This facilitates the processing enormously and reduces the manual effort required for this additional service to be rendered.”
Processing times cut in half, quality that is manually unattainable
Currently, the processing costs are relatively straightforward. Looking ahead in the next months, one can be sure that at AÜW, those kinds of tasks will only be manageable in future with the aid of innovative software solutions.
“Even if the time savings compared to manual processing can initially only be estimated, one can clearly say that it would no longer make sense to perform the tasks without IT support. We assume that the manual processing of a change application takes our staff on average 20 minutes. In comparison, the time required with the process support obtained through the WiM solution is only about ten minutes”, Kessel said of the initial experiences.
And this brings AÜW full circle. WiM is not the first area in which the company has used a solution by Bosch Software Innovations. At many other sites within the company as well, inubit has ensured efficient processes, shorter processing times and noticeable labor savings. This extends from simply moving and converting data to sending customized newsletters and form letters, mailbox processing with barcode detection, archiving of incoming and outgoing documents in “Easy-Archiv” and workflows with user integration via various portlets. Altogether, the software processes about 10,000 EDIFACT messages in these areas daily.
About Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH
About Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH
For almost 90 years, Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH (AÜW) with its extensive services has been a large presence in the Allgäu area. As the largest regional electricity provider, Allgäuer Überlandwerk serves over 94,000 households.
AÜW brings its energy, expertise and dedication to where it makes the widest impact: locally in cities and communities.
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