Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SAP FERC enhancement project, part 2

A couple months ago, we wrote about a new SAP FERC enhancement project that HPC had begun. We've just completed user acceptance testing in the mock client, successfully resolving the utility's FERC reporting issues. We're now gearing up for the launch of the new solution at the start of 2013.

At the core of our solution is a new way of including cost accounting transactions, mainly for priced labor and related burdens for benefits and payroll taxes, to support the FERC balances. This new approach to FERC reporting aligns the CO reports used by internal managers with the external reports used to support regulatory filings, thus providing one version of the truth for all stakeholders.

Part of our remaining work will integrate HPC Utility Financials Accelerator with some legacy programs that the customer has had in place for FERC reporting since their initial launch of SAP in the late 1990's. We've designed and volume tested a solution that will make their FERC requirements easier to meet as they apply for ISO status in the next year or so.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanks from SFSU student about HPC presentation

Last week, HPC CEO Jerry Cavalieri presented to the MBA candidates at SFSU. We received kind thanks from one student, who wrote, "It was such a great pleasure having you as a guest speaker in our Information Systems class last evening at SFSU DTC. You presented an interesting, rich, and invaluable presentation about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and the significant contribution it can make to business processes and ROI. Thank you!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

PG&E SAP Design and Testing team new hires from SFSU

Earlier this year, we announced HPC CEO Jerry Cavalieri's addition to the SAP Advisory Board of San Francisco State University. We learned recently that Pacific Gas & Electric has recruited two students from the University's SAP program to join its SAP Design & Testing group full-time after graduation. This is obviously a real testament to the value the students brought during their PG&E internships, but also speaks to the benefits of learning SAP fundamentals in a classroom setting. Students in SFSFU's SAP program cover E-Commerce, Business Process Management, Business Intelligence, and IT Project Management. Learn more about PG&E's decision to recruit the students.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Utility regulation expected to increase

Public Power's recent article by Jeannine Anderson on the "triple whammy" utilities face from pricing volatility, regulation, and a tough economy included a number of insights from Standard & Poor's director Jeffrey Panger.  Panger commented that regardless of this year's presidential election outcome, additional regulation is expected. This jives with the anecdotal feedback we hear from utility clients, who are preparing for that future with better financial tools and analytics that put the data required by management and regulators within far easier reach. Managing important business processes and records outside of SAP—for example in dozens of Excel spreadsheets across disparate departments—is simply not sustainable with the anticipated increase in scrutiny.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Analytics best practices from PG&E's Janet Lee Redmond and Ramelle Ruff

Reflecting further on the 2012 SAP for Utilities conference, we enjoyed the presentation by Pacific Gas & Electric's Janet Lee Redmond and Ramelle Ruff on analytics best practices. While the context was HR efficiency, Janet's and Ramelle's points were clearly applicable to many types of operations and projects. Our key take aways included the following:
  • Fewer metrics are better; they're more manageable by their owners, and digestible by the intended audience.
  • Choose metrics that truly measure the success of key business processes. While some extra data may be nice to have, that can get noisy and obscure what's actually important.
  • Pick benchmarks related to your business, but consider those from outside your industry as well.
  • Avoid the "we are special" mentality that often leads to exemptions and non-standard measurements. Do this by collaborating across stakeholders and ensuring buy-in from the beginning.
  • Assign owners to each metric, to maintain their integrity over time. Good governance is key to enduring value here.
  • Define how data will be presented and strive to eliminate manual manipulation, which will lead to additional versions reports and make periodic comparisons or comparisons across departments and users far more difficult.
  • Last, define the frequency of evaluations and updates to your metrics. Ad hoc or reactive approaches will just lead to data that can't be properly compared from one period to the next.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SAP fleet management & Wright Express integration

Over the last several months, we've been implementing SAP fleet management with integrated fuel consumption data for a utility company based on HPC's SAP fleet management template. As we approach go-live, here's a rundown of the business process scope and benefits:
  • SAP Easy DMS for digitizing documents and photos for each vehicle
  • Wright Express Integration to monitor fuel consumption, miles driven and MPG automation
  • Preventive and Corrective Maintenance via the SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) module
  • Automated Fleet Rentals through Kronos Timesaver fleet usage and integration to SAP via ePersonality and Excel uploads
Once live, the SAP system will know the exact mileage for each vehicle via the Wright Express integration. This means that our customer will no longer be required to collect odometer reads manually or calculate mileage on Excel spreadsheets. SAP will do all of this automatically, including calculating service notifications in real time and generating work orders for Preventative Maintenance. The system will also accommodate Corrective Maintenance with user codes already in place.

All labor and external parts invoices will be entered into SAP, so a full costing for each vehicle will be performed. At go-live, the manual processes associated with the customer's old Maximo system—odometer reads, fuel consumption, MPG, wage rates, new order requests, actual cost data entry, Maximo timecards, etc.—will no longer be required, so the customer will simply be able to stop performing them.

When fleet units are acquired, inspected, and sold, all associated documents (e.g., bills of sale, DMV records, etc.) will be scanned and uploaded via SAP Easy DMS. The days of misplaced titles and smog records are over.

Other benefits include significantly reduced manual data entry, far greater integration of important data in SAP, and several big steps towards eliminating Maximo and all of its associated costs.

Learn more about our approach to SAP fleet management and integration with fuel consumption data.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mobility at SAP for Utilities 2013

Reflecting on this year's SAP for Utilities conference, two presentations about mobility solutions stand out in particular. Greg Rimmer of the Water Corporation of Western Australia presented a number of key take-aways from their mobility implementation:
  • It's not just another IT project. 
  • Solicit input from end users on hardware usability.
  • Develop apps that add real, measurable value.
  • Apps should run without an connection.
  • Data entry screens should be intuitive and context-sensitive.
  • Allow collection of all data, then reconcile it after upload.
  • Be extensible.
  • Enlist field associates for training.
  • Again, it's not just another IT project.
The following day, John Northko of Aquarian Water and Florian Ganz of Energy4U spoke about Aquarian's mobile asset solution. One of Florian's comments struck us as particularly noteworthy: get the software right, and users will treat the hardware as their own--that is, carefully. Experience showed that ruggedization is far less important than usability, and that even relatively fragile tablets can tolerate everyday use just fine. In fact, Florian found that iPads were most often returned not due to damage or abuse, but rather from worn batteries and other normal wear-and-tear.

Monday, September 17, 2012

SAP FERC Enhancement Project

This summer, we conducted a top-level assessment of a utility's SAP IS-U/FERC module configuration and business processes, and identified a number of enhancements that would benefit the company—both in its daily operations and for its future plans to join the state ISO.

Next week, we begin the full-scale implementation to realize the following four goals:
  1. A streamlined FERC process that can be run monthly.

  2. An efficient and accurate process for handling actual labor charges, secondary cost element credits on cost centers, and related secondary cost element debits on non-capital PM/Internal Orders, such that payroll taxes and benefits currently included in fully loaded labor rates are calculated correctly and applied through overhead processes.

  3. A consolidated process to manage Fleet costs and equipment charges, such that line item detail for maintenance of equipment does not appear in distribution/transmission O&M FERC accounts.

  4. An efficient and automated way to determine appropriate allocations to FERC accounts without having to mimic the flow-of-cost trace outside of SAP.
This work will utilize key functionality of HPC's SAP-certified software solution Utility Financials Accelerator (UFA) that is not included in the standard FERC module, in order to increase the project's efficiency; reduce ongoing trace workload and errors; improve the speed and accuracy of new order creation; automate translation of natural accounts to regulatory categories; and facilitate better ongoing table maintenance.

Stay tuned for additional insights and results as the project unfolds in the coming months.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Five Benefits of the SAP New General Ledger

More utilities are exploring the impact of an SAP New GL migration on their financial and regulatory reporting. While HPC is agnostic in the Classic vs. New GL, FERC or no FERC debate (we've built effective solutions for every scenario), we recognize five key benefits to migrating:
  1. Integrates external legal accounting with internal cost reporting
  2. Provides a means to satisfy IFRS reporting (although convergence deadlines are still pending)
  3. Allows for full balance sheets below company code level (e.g., by segment)
  4. Provides extensibility to introduce new fields to the GL (e.g., FERC account)
  5. Quickens the month-end close
Utilities on SAP can realize these benefits in part due to key features in the New GL that are not available in the Classic GL. Click the image below for a larger version:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

HPC Order Adjuster for SAP Internal Orders

Even in the most disciplined of organizations, corrections and changes to SAP internal orders are inevitable. Employees inadvertently charge to the wrong order number; project managers need to move labor from one cost center to another; or expense orders occasionally must be recategorized as capital work instead of operations and maintenance.

The typical solution is often a lump sum journal entry by the accounting department, which sacrifices detail to expedience. The HPC Order Adjuster eliminates the shortcomings of such basic, corrective journal entries, to the advantage of project managers, accountants, business analysts, and other stakeholders in your organization. It's a set of ABAP code that enables authorized SAP users to move designated transactions from one order or cost center to another, automatically generating fully auditable documentation of the adjustment.

The HPC Order Adjuster simplifies what would otherwise be a prohibitively labor-intensive correction process by seamlessly integrating the order research and adjustment steps into a single graphical interface. Based on your specified search criteria, the Order Adjuster fetches all relevant transactions from your database. Once you mark the transactions or cost elements to be moved to a different order or cost center, it creates a parked document for each transaction via an SAP BAPI call. Upon formal approval, the original order is credited and the new order debited. Learn more about how the HPC Order Adjuster works, or contact us for a demonstration.

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Project: Automated SAP FERC Processing

This week kicks off a new project for another utility company on SAP. We're going to assess the utility's SAP FERC processes, many of which have become manual and are now conducted outside of SAP over the years. Our customer understandably wants to automate these labor-intensive steps, so we'll be considering a number of different ways to optimize their current configuration of the SAP regulatory reporting module and streamline its processes. 

We'll also take into account some related initiatives the company may undertake in the future -- such as leveraging Plant Maintenance further, utilizing the HR module, and migrating to the SAP New General Ledger -- and factor these elements into our FERC automation recommendations.

The net result of HPC's assessment will be a highly actionable report for the utility company. It will lay out several optimization paths to automate currently manual processes and to manage labor, fleet, and cost center costs more effectively within SAP, thereby minimizing the use of external spreadsheets and applications.

In our experience, many utilities that have been running SAP for years benefit from this type of rapid evaluation and action plan. Over time, the configuration of their FERC module and related business processes morph into something less than ideal, and the best way forward is an outsider's fresh look. If your regulatory reporting processes aren't easily managed within SAP, such that management can't get the data it requires quickly and efficiently, contact us to talk about your own assessment. And if you're considering a New GL migration as well, let's talk about prototyping it for you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SAP New GL extensibility and real-time FERC data

Today, we have more news about prototyping the SAP New GL and real-time FERC for a utility company in the midwest. We've been busy testing primary and secondary cost postings to the new functional areas that we'll use for FERC derivation.

Contact us to learn more.

Interested in this type of project for your utility? Check out our New GL prototyping service.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Functional Areas, FERC, and the SAP New General Ledger

We have now completed the proof-of-concept that secondary cost postings will indeed update the General Ledger. This was not possible prior to the New GL, except for cross-company transactions.

Contact us to learn more.

Stay turned for more updates on our progress later this summer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

SAP Fleet Management and fuel consumption data

As we mentioned earlier in the month, HPC has developed a template for improved fleet management on SAP by integrating mileage and fuel consumption data. Our approach retains preventative maintenance schedules and costs in SAP; allocates fuel costs per vehicle; and derives truly accurate fleet rental prices based on actual cost of service. And all with a single point of entry that improves operational efficiency. Learn more about our SAP fleet management settings for utilities.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

SAP New GL prototyping - continued

We've now gotten deep into the data redesign for prototyping the SAP New General Ledger at a utility company in the midwest.

During this pre-migration discovery phase, our joint HPC-client team has also identified a number of areas in which the utility could benefit from a larger SAP footprint, including extending Plant Maintenance to a greater portion of its business; utilizing Project Systems to manage schedules while FI/CO manages costs; and implementing a Fleet Management solution that tracks per-vehicle costs. More on this latter opportunity in the near future, as we're just about to roll one out at Sonoma County Water Agency that will be applicable to many other utilities and municipalities that want to track fuel consumption and vehicle costs as part of sustainability initiatives.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pepco Holdings Implements HPC Utility Financials Accelerator

Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI) is one of the largest energy delivery companies in the Mid-Atlantic region, serving about two million customers in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and New Jersey. PHI wanted to enhance its processes of categorizing and reporting accounting data, and selected HPC Utility Financials Accelerator to deliver greater automation and less reliance on external Excel files outside of SAP. Just nine months after kickoff, PHI and HPC achieved all of the project's initial objectives. Read the complete case study to learn more about the innovations that HPC brought to PHI.
Pepco case study

Friday, April 6, 2012

SAP FI/CO Consultant - On-site contract in Santa Rosa

We're seeking an experienced SAP FI/CO Consultant for part-time, on-site work at one of our customer's facilities in San Francisco's North Bay. The role will entail first-tier functional support for SAP Finance and Controlling, some user training and documentation, and a little bit of project management along the way. We're estimating two days a week on-site, with some additional remote hours. The initial contract will be for three months, with an extension possible based on your performance and the customer's needs.

This new role will be a prominent HPC "face" to our customer, entrusted with helping to manage the overall relationship. Ideal candidates will have fundamental accounting knowledge and at least several years of experience supporting SAP FI/CO. Bonus points if you've worked in smaller organizations, municipalities or utilities that do not have large IT support teams and require you to think creatively and wear many hats comfortably. Due to the regularity of on-site work, candidates who live in Marin, Sonoma, or Napa will likely provide better service to our customer. You will also, of course, enjoy teaching users and helping them to solve problems, and have glowing references that can speak to your customer service abilities.

While this position will work independently, you won't be entirely on your own. Our team of senior functional and technical SAP consultants, several of whom have first-hand experience with this customer, will provide additional support and be available as resources to you whenever tough questions come up.

To be considered for this opportunity, please send your resume, phone number and city of residence, and a short cover letter that describes your relevant experience and how it will help HPC delight our customer. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

SAP UCES Consultant (contract job)

HPC America is looking for an SAP consultant with proven experience in SAP Utility Customer E-Services (UCES) to join our team of SAP experts for a short-term project. Qualified candidates will be located in the San Francisco Bay Area and have the following skills and experience:
  • 1+ year of consulting at a utility company, with references
  • Proficiency in configuring and testing standard SAP UCES features
  • Proficiency in programming custom features in UCES
  • Experience managing small projects
  • Excellent client communication and expectation management skills
  • Experience with training and documentation
The project will entail a combination of on-site and remote work in the Bay Area, approximately three months in duration (to discuss). Only candidates currently living near San Francisco will be considered. Please send your resume, phone number, and a cover letter explaining how you will add value to our team. We look forward to hearing from you, and will respond promptly to candidates who meet the core requirements outlined above.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SAP FERC White Paper to Enhance Regulatory Reporting

If your configuration of the IS-U/FERC module has not kept pace with the utility industry's increasingly stringent reporting requirements, request a copy of our free white paper for utilities on SAP, "Five Tips to Enhance Regulatory Reporting." It's written by the original creators of the FERC module, and presents five highly practical, actionable steps that you can take to better meet the needs of both management and regulators. Topics include leveraging functional location hierarchies, automating translation tables, and more.

Request your white paper from HPC America online.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New client work: SAP New GL prototyping for utility

We're pleased to announce that HPC will be starting a new project for a utility in the Midwest that intends to improve its financial reporting and gain more robust regulatory reporting. We'll help our client achieve this by exploring the impact of a transition from the classic FERC module to the SAP New General Ledger, which supports functional accounts by production, transmission, distribution, maintenance, A&G, customer accounts, and cost of energy.

HPC will also lead the prototyping of new master data such as cost centers and orders; the redesign of profit centers to enable business segment reporting; and the design of cost flows and overhead allocations. Through this modeling, the utility will be able to visualize results prior to starting the actual migration to production. And that is the best way to prepare for New GL migration in a way that meets all stakeholders' requirements and eliminates nasty surprises.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Announcing HPC's Rapid Prototype Service for SAP New GL Migration

How will the SAP New General Ledger impact your financials?

Find out before committing to a costly, time-consuming migration through HPC's exclusive prototyping methodology and regulatory reporting solution.

The HPC Rapid Prototype Service is a fixed-price consultation that simulates the SAP New General Ledger. It shows how migration will affect your natural and regulatory accounts by modeling your existing FERC configuration. The Rapid Prototype Service is based on HPC America's 15+ years of experience with utilities, and our software solution HPC Utility Financials Accelerator, certified by SAP as powered by the NetWeaver® technology platform. It's cost effective, efficient, and utterly transparent. For utilities seriously considering migration, there is no better way to make an informed decision about the New GL.

Learn more online or download the data sheet. To discuss your plans for SAP New GL migration, please contact us for a consultation.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

HPC CEO Jerry Cavalieri to Join SAP Advisory Board of San Francisco State University

We are pleased to announce that Jerry Cavalieri, CEO of HPC America, has joined the SAP Advisory Board of the College of Business at San Francisco State University. The Advisory Board provides guest lecturers and collaborates with the SFSU Information Systems (IS) faculty to enhance the University's curriculum with respect to SAP and the employability of IS graduates.

SFSU Professor Sam Gill commented that, "Jerry will bring his vast experience in helping organizations implement SAP to the development and implementation of SAP-enriched curricula at SFSU. In particular, Jerry will assist with the integration of SAP into the financial curriculum, which would also also include the implementation of GAAP using SAP. Jerry will also advise on how to extend the SAP curriculum to the use of the Sybase platform (acquired by SAP) to advance mobility solutions."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Open jobs: SharePoint Developer and SAP BASIS Consultant

HPC is hiring for two contract positions: a Microsoft SharePoint Developer, and an SAP BASIS Consultant. Both roles are for work in the San Francisco Bay Area, so local candidates are a must. Make sure to include a cover letter with your resume that articulates how you'll add value to our team and help delight our customers.