MECOMS out-of-the-box goes hand in hand with EBL’s bespoke utility processes
EBL, Genossenschaft Elektra Baselland, is a fully integrated energy supplier that produces, distributes and supplies innovative electricity, heating and telecommunication solutions in the Baselland region.
EBL is a ‘Genossenschaft’ (cooperative) with 13,000 members, who are represented by 264 delegates. The company has an annual turnover of 215 million CHF, employs 326 members of staff and has a residential customer base of 85,000, which amounts to a total of 60,000 electricity and heating connections and 45,000 telecom connections.
Whilst EBL focusses predominantly on the Swiss market, it also supplies ‘green energy’ to Germany (Schweizstrom).
EBL has also invested in a Spanish solar power plant. For more than 15 years now, EBL has been a role model for saving natural energy resources by exploring renewable energies. EBL takes responsibility for future generations by encouraging the economic use of energy.
EBL aims to produce 30% of its electricity and heating demand from renewable energy sources such as solar, biomass, wind, geothermal and hydro installations located primarily in the North West of Switzerland by 2020. (see map, or click.
What does the market look like where EBL is operating?
It is looking increasingly likely that the Swiss energy and utility market will be deregulated by 2023. EBL’s strategy is to be a one-stop-shop for the provision of multiple energy sources and to be a leading innovator in the market. With this in mind, EBL is already making use of all available foundations and tactics to ensure its positions as a leading energy provider in the upcoming, competitive marketplace.
What IT challenges were faced and what requirements had to be met?
To successfully implement this strategy, EBL made the decision that the company needed to rely on just one fully integrated business support system that can be used across all its sites and departments. It was also essential that EBL be in a position to offer a wide range of possibilities and flexibility when it came to operating the new system internally.
The current system landscape was created from three different ERP systems. It was a very time-consuming process, and it proved difficult to ensure the continuous running of the interfaces, as well as a stable maintenance process.
The ERP systems and the utility billing engine were replaced with one integrated system that is capable of fulfilling all function requirements, increasing efficiency, and reducing complexity.
What solution did EBL hope for?
EBL was looking for one integrated software solution that could be rolled out in a uniform way across all EBL sites. The software needed to be easy to use and integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX. It also had to demonstrate a lower cost-to-serve all customers.
Why did EBL choose to work with Ferranti Computer Systems?
Philippe Kienner, Chief Information Officer EBL, says: “People make the difference. EBL attaches very high importance to the level of expertise as well as the attitude of all professionals working together to ensure a successful rollout. The team at EBL demonstrated expertise for MECOMS as well as Dynamics AX. All consultants involved had a proven track record, were working together onsite at EBL, and spoke the same language.
All consultants involved in the project at EBL complied with all of these criteria: We had the same mindset. We worked with experienced German-speaking MECOMS™ consultancy resources, and we demonstrated business expertise together with Dynamics AX expertise”.
Why did EBL choose the MECOMS solution?
Philippe Kienner, Chief Information Officer EBL: “Ferranti Computer Systems is Microsoft’s utility partner of choice. MECOMS is based on the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform and also provides integration with Dynamics CRM, which has already been implemented into EBL.
MECOMS is also a great platform that enables EBL to introduce new services, to lower the costs to serve our customers, and to continue to innovate and to grow our company”.
What will EBL use MECOMS for?
All standard MECOMS functionalities have been deployed for EBL with the exception of Portfolio Management and Pricing & Quotation.
MECOMS is used for Meter Data Management, Customer Management and Billing in conjunction with the following standard AX modules: HR, Project Management, Inventory Management, Finance (including Fixed Asset, Accounts Receivable, and Accounts Payable), Purchasing, Sales and Marketing.
The new MECOMS business support system is operated by 35 users at EBL.
What was EBL’s experience like in terms of collaboration, right from the very start to Go Live?
The project implementation started in April 2015 with the conception phase.
To ensure a successful migration, we used the MECOMS Implementation Workbench with the Ferranti pre-processors to migrate the master data using standard AX functionality.
This provided the basis for a successful migration and was a key step in the whole project implementation process, which took 13 months from diagnostics to operation.
The Microsoft Dynamics functionalities for HR, Finance, Logistics and Project Management went live in January 2016. The MECOMS Go Live followed on 9 May 2016.
MECOMS is deployed with maximum out-of-the-box functionalities together with certain customizations to meet Swiss legislation, such as the ‘Installationsanzeige, Periodische Kontrolle und Sicherheitsnachweis’ to manage all quality assurance and registration processes.
All parties involved enjoyed a transparent, open collaboration, and worked as one team. Tanja Williams, Project Manager, says: “Working with a team made up of different expertise, from different countries, and from different companies was a real pleasure. It was exciting to see how the team grew closer and closer together and achieved huge success over the lifetime of the project, around 13 months. EBL and all implementation partners worked as one team to reach one goal. Regardless of which company they worked for, all project members came together to form one competent team.”
As stated by Philippe Kienner: “The entire management team of EBL also highly appreciated the commitment and the responsiveness of all the consultants involved from Ferranti Computer Systems.”
How would you rate the performance of MECOMS up to now?
Philippe Kienner, Chief Information Officer EBL: “Before we implemented MECOMS, we were using software that was tailored to our needs over the past 15 years. As we decided to use, as much as possible, all standard out-of-the-box functionalities provided by MECOMS, we were not expecting MECOMS to meet our needs and existing business processes as well as the old software we used before did.
Since going live with MECOMS, our feedback is that MECOMS is easy to use yet still very flexible. We can package our products and prices in a much easier way. Daily business handling, such as move-ins and move-outs, is also much easier.
The fact that MECOMS is fully integrated into the Microsoft look and feel is definitely one of the reasons that our users “feel at home” with MECOMS.
At EBL, we produce around a million invoices per year, and these are distributed over the year to allow for smooth operations. We have now started evaluating our utility processes and identifying where efficiencies can be made, and we continue to work with Ferranti to increase performance even further.”
What did you appreciate most about working with Ferranti Computer Systems?
Mr. Philippe Kienner, Chief Information Officer EBL: “When an issue was raised, Ferranti reacted immediately and provided us with the right knowledge and support at the right moment!”
We also found that Ferranti’s MECOMS Implementation Workbench is a great tool for providing us with the right information in the lead up to the rollout, as well as allowing a very good overview of all progress made in the configuration of the software”.
We are now looking forward to testing the many usability enhancements that will be available in the new MECOMS R4.”
What did we, Ferranti Computer Systems consultants and members of the EBL project team, think about the MECOMS implementation for EBL :
Christopher Claes, MECOMS Functional Solution Architect:
“When we were working together with consultants from EBL, it felt as if we had always been one MECOMS team”.
Michael Goossens, MECOMS Application Consultant:
“From the first day, we have all been focusing on offering maximum out-of-the-box functionalities with the standard MECOMS™ solution”.
Hans Van den Fonteyne, MECOMS Functional Solution Architect:
“The high performance that we demonstrate with MECOMS at EBL is also made possible because MECOMS™ is an integral part of the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform”.
If you would like to know more about how Ferranti makes a difference for EBL, then contact:
Philippe Kienner, Chief Information Officer EBL