Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Utilities Contact Center in SAP C4C - Rich Feature Set for Utilities

The Utilities Contact Center (UCC) in SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer offers truly rich functionality for utility company Customer Service Representatives. In our current C4C implementation, we've activated the features outlined below. We'll also be demonstrating them at the SAP for Utilities conference in Huntington Beach next month, running C4C off an iPad to demonstrate its out-of-the-box mobility.

Utility Financials: displays the customer account balance, open items, invoices, payments, dunning notices, installment plans, meter reads, premise, bill reversals, and interactions on service tickets.


Utilities 360: displays a hierarchy of the Contract Account, Premise, Contract, Installation and Device for the customer in a parent/child relationship.


Utilities Overview: displays a list of the contract accounts for the customer including invoices, service orders, and meter reads.

Move-In/Move-Out: walks the CSR through move-in steps to a premise, and through move-out steps from a vacating premise.

Installment Plans: creates a payment arrangement in which the customer balance is spread out over a number of days, weeks, or months as permitted, and changes the amount due immediately after.

Service Orders: creates a new service order for field technician work. Service orders are immediately visible to planners for release and to dispatch field techs to premises. Mobile updates are provided as well.

Bill Reversal/Re-Bill: enables the CSR to reverse one or more billing documents, or the entire customer invoice. Also allows manual entry of meter reads, and re-billing  of contract accounts.

Transfers: transfers an existing contract account to a new service address for an existing customer (business partner).

When a CSR uses these features, SAP C4C provides dynamic navigation links and user prompts based on the context of the particular task at hand. This reduces clutter on the screen and makes the interface even more intuitive. See it yourself at the utilities conference.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Integration benefits from SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer

Continuing our series about SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer (C4C), today we’re thinking about how critical it is for utilities to have a CRM system that’s well-integrated with their ERP. As we implement C4C and integrate it with the IS-U this summer, we’re discovering more and more that we like about SAP’s SasS offering.
Utilities committed to excellent customer service need a CRM solution that facilities on-boarding of new customers, transfers to another house or apartment in the service territory, and set-up of payment plans. A CRM solution that integrates with the back-end ERP — or in the case of utilities, the IS-U — will not only provide Customer Service Representatives with visibility into billing, but also into service tickets. Everything discussed with the customer can be captured in those service tickets, and that, in turn, gives the utility insight into each customer’s particular situation and needs no matter who at the utility is communicating with the customer.

That transparency into the customer is incredibly valuable. For example, when performing a customer move-in, the CSR requires a lot of details about the customer class, applicable rate tariff, and move-out of the prior customer. Coordinating this with a non-integrated CRM is difficult, but with C4C and the ERP integrated it’s much easier. Similarly, if a customer is about to be disconnected for non-payment, but the CSR using SAP C4C sees that payment was just made that day, the customer’s power won’t be interrupted. Such visibility is difficult to achieve with non-integrated CRM solutions that may only be updated once a day, or provide very little information from their updates.

C4C also delivers a means to interact with customers through multiple mediums. Referred to as omni-channel, C4C allows for traditional Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) as well as email, text (SMS), and social networks (e.g., Facebook and Twitter).  For example, incoming emails can be read and classified by C4C, automatically creating service tickets and assigning them to the appropriate agent for follow-up. Agents, in turn, can get 360-degree views of their customers, assess account status, and provide pre-determined actions from scripted communication templates.

Moreover, if a service call is necessary, technicians in the field can use C4C to update their progress on service tickets. After troubleshooting service interruptions while on-site at customers’ premises, field techs can even use their mobile devices to charge their time to service orders created by CSRs. SAP C4C is delivered with an out-of-the-box Fiori UI for mobile workers, many features of which work both on- and off-line when cell coverage or WiFi is not available.

SAP also delivers embedded analytics in C4C that customer service managers will appreciate. Because C4C is built on the HANA in-memory database, both OLTP and OLAP capabilities are on the same application platform. This means that analyzing service ticket metrics and utility response times is already part of the C4C solution, complete with graphical displays for visualization of the data for management to analyze. With C4C, a utility won’t have to export its data to an external warehouse for analysis, losing valuable time moving data around just to prepare it for analysis. It’s all right there, ready to be considered carefully and acted upon promptly. And that can only help customer service initiatives.

Monday, August 7, 2017

SAP transaction CIC0 nearing EOL, replaced by Utilities Contact Center (UCC)

Utilities currently running SAP’s on-premise CRM solution, IS-U/CR&B (a.k.a. CCS), often rely on transaction CIC0 in the Customer Interaction Center (CIC). They won’t be able to use it for long, however, as support for CIC0 will end when support for ECC 6.0 ends in 2025, and CIC0 is deprecated in SAP S/4HANA. As such, CIC0 is nearing end-of-life and must be replaced with something else.


The replacement for CIC0 is the Utilities Contact Center (UCC) offered in SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C), which integrates with the IS-U. While C4C has its own ticketing system resident in Cloud for Service, utilities using that alone would miss all of the benefits of integration with the IS-U. And that integration is absolutely critical for utility company CSRs to on-board new customers, transfer customers to new locations within the service territory, and help customers pay their bills by setting up installment plans.

Given that, we see two future alternatives for utilities: run SAP’s on-premise CRM solution with S/4HANA, or run the new Hybris Cloud for Customer SaaS solution. If a utility doesn’t already have the on-prem CRM deployed, we’d recommend using C4C. It provides rapid innovation cycles for easy access to new features; a bundled Fiori client for mobile users at low subscription prices; and offloads technical work so that IT can focus on other initiatives. In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss C4C’s benefits in greater detail.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

2017 SAP for Utilities Conference topics: FERC and C4C










At next month's 2017 SAP for Utilities conference, HPC America will discuss two topics of considerable interest to utility customers:

Real-Time FERC on SAP S/4HANA. Utilities have a number of options for regulatory accounting on S/4HANA. The delivered solution still relies on the legacy FI-RRU (a.k.a., the "FERC module") which uses a derivation-based model to generate regulatory data in batches at period-end. In contrast, S/4HANA is ideally suited to a transaction-based ("real-time") FERC model with line-item granularity. It doesn't, however, deliver such a design out-of-the-box. (Request our FAQ for more info.) At the conference, you can learn from HPC America's 20+ years of subject matter expertise how your utility can realize transaction-based FERC on S/4 either through configuration and/or code block changes, or with our latest add-on solution, HPC DECIPHER, which runs natively on S/4HANA and delivers the most comprehensive functionality for real-time translation, allocations, adjustments, cost flow forensics, and more. Before the conference, you can request our FAQ about FERC on S/4HANA.

SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer. We're currently leading the first Cloud for Service deployment at a utility company in the United States, and will share our SAP C4C implementation and integration experience with conference attendees. SAP C4C is incredibly important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the replacement of transaction CIC0 Customer Interaction Center (CIC) in the legacy IS-U/CCS with the C4C Utilities Contact Center (UCC) connected to the IS-U in the ERP. See a live demo of our system at the conference, and learn from the technical challenges we've surmounted by working closely with SAP Support.

To schedule a meeting with HPC at the 2017 SAP for Utilities conference, please contact us directly.

Monday, July 31, 2017

One SAP Roadmap for Utilities: Wrap SAP Cloud Around On-Prem SAP Financials

Recently we were talking with one of our utility company clients about their SAP roadmap, and how utilities can leverage the latest SAP Cloud-based solutions while maintaining their robust and well-design SAP Financials core.

Our guidance for utilities considering such a direction is to initially wrap Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions around the SAP Financials they already have in place. Integrating third-party or SAP SaaS offerings with SAP Financials will be faster and less costly than a total overhaul, and SAP has great middleware in Hana Cloud Integration (HCI) that runs on the SAP Cloud Platform.

Under this kind of model, a SaaS billing solution, for example, would send APIs to the HCI to message SAP Financials for revenue transactions. The HCI would also be used to connect other SaaS offerings to SAP Financials, such as Fieldglass for contractors, Concur for employee expenses, and Success Factors for HR/payroll.

This strategy of integrating SaaS offerings with on-premise Financials has a number of benefits. First, it provides utilities with access to more modern, user-friendly applications that front-office staff and field operations will appreciate. Second, it safeguards regulatory accounting, overheads and allocations, and even the monthly close itself, which are too important to rip and replace without the utmost care. And third, it creates an opportunity in the future to move to a hybrid solution running SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud. Conversion will be more efficient when some front office and field tech functions have already been moved there, and the primary on-prem system remaining is Financials. Then, once S/4HANA is in place, utilities can build-out analytics on the SAP Business Objects Cloud (BOC) as their repository for all reporting from SAP and other non-SAP apps.

Learn more about HPC's implementation services for a terrific SAP SaaS offering, SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer (SAP C4C).

Friday, July 21, 2017

SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer - utility company project update

HPC America's implementation of SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer at a utility company is progressing nicely (read prior posts 1 and 2). We now have the following functionality working in SAP C4C:

Guided Move-In / Move-Out
This is one of the most important aspects of utility company customer relationship management, and in SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer the functionality steps the end-user through the move-in/move-out process. Initially, there were challenges around meter read estimation and inputs, but we’ve resolved them. We also developed some BADis to streamline the process. For example, out of the box, C4C’s move-in function was creating multiple Service Orders, instead of a single one as the customer required. By modifying the BADi, we've enabled SAP C4C to generate a single Service Order.


Payment History
Customers’ payment histories were initially not replicated fully in SAP C4C, due to the select query working only on certain ECC payment entry configurations. Our utility customer’s ECC payment input is configured to allow multiple entries, so we worked closely with SAP Technical Support to update Cloud for Customer to meet this requirement.


Editing/Creating Meter Reads
Input of meter reads by contract is now operational in SAP C4C. This update is manual, but the system can also make estimates automatically. If a customer’s account has a smart meter, uploaded readings may be edited or overridden.

Testing of Responsive U/I
We’ve now tested SAP Cloud for Customer's Responsive U/I on various mobile devices, including Apple IOS phones and iPads and Android LG phones. The results are excellent, and the user interface makes for a very rewarding experience. The responsive interface in combination with critical functions, such as manual meter reads in territories without AMI, will provide tremendous benefits. In such a case, for example, field technicians will be able to input meter reads in real-time while at a service address without using any other software by SAP C4C.

Tickets and Customer Interaction groupings
In SAP C4C, the ticket is the main record of all customer interaction. We’ve now configured tickets and work tickets to align with our customer’s “Customer Interaction” groupings, which define categories such as Outage, Disconnects, Payments, Billing, and Service Request. All phone calls and emails between a CSR and a customer will be recorded and linked to the customer account in SAP Cloud for Customer.

To learn more about SAP C4C's benefits for utility companies, please contact HPC America.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New White Paper About FERC Reporting Options on SAP S/4HANA

HPC America’s FERC Reporting Option Matrix for SAP S/4HANA outlines three alternative regulatory accounting designs for utilities on SAP. It covers one derivation-based FERC reporting model, and two different transaction-based FERC models. Request your copy now.



This detailed white paper is based on HPC America’s 20+ years of experience developing regulatory accounting solutions for utilities on SAP. It summarizes how three different approaches to FERC accounting function on S/4HANA, including their respective technical requirements, reporting capabilities, and data granularity to support rate case preparation and regulatory inquiries. It also addresses FERC-GAAP reconciliation, financial statement drill-down, FERC adjustments, FERC budgeting, and other topics relevant to utility accounting stakeholders running SAP S/4HANA.

Utility finance, account, rates, and IT professionals may request their copy of the white paper online.