Reenergizing the Utilities Industry through Data Archiving

reenergizingutilitiesindustrynov2016Electric Light & Power Magazine, November 2016 Dr. Werner Hopf Today, “big data” is more than just a buzzword: for many companies, it is a daily reality. Businesses across virtually every industry - and the utilities sector in particular - are witnessing an explosion in the amount of data being generated, creating a critical need to manage it effectively and efficiently. Although this rapid growth of data generates enormous opportunities for analytics and business insights, the sheer volume can also create problems that not only impede system performance, but also increase the total cost of ownership for utility companies running large ERP systems. From invoices to meter reads, utility companies often find themselves faced with simply too much data. To navigate today’s challenges brought on by the ever-increasing influx of data, organizations are implementing rigorous data archiving strategies to free up space, improve compliance with retention requirements, increase productivity and save money. Untitled-7

Reenergizing the Utilities Industry through Data Archiving

reenergizingutilitiesindustrynov2016Electric Light & Power Magazine, November 2016
Dr. Werner Hopf

Today, “big data” is more than just a buzzword: for many companies, it is a daily reality. Businesses across virtually every industry – and the utilities sector in particular – are witnessing an explosion in the amount of data being generated, creating a critical need to manage it effectively and efficiently.

Although this rapid growth of data generates enormous opportunities for analytics and business insights, the sheer volume can also create problems that not only impede system performance, but also increase the total cost of ownership for utility companies running large ERP systems. From invoices to meter reads, utility companies often find themselves faced with simply too much data.

To navigate today’s challenges brought on by the ever-increasing influx of data, organizations are implementing rigorous data archiving strategies to free up space, improve compliance with retention requirements, increase productivity and save money.

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Magic Quadrant for Structured Data Archiving and Application Retirement

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 8.20.54 AMContact Dolphin to discuss the findings in the Gartner report “Magic Quadrant for Structured Data Archiving and Application Retirement”.

Copies of the report are no longer available for distribution.

Source: Gartner, Inc. Magic Quadrant for Structured Data Archiving and Application Retirement, Garth Landers, Alan Dayley, JP Corriveau, 13 June 2016.

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Data Management & Digitization in the Energy Industry

Electric Energy T&D Magazine, May/June 2016
Brian Shannon

Organizations are continuously adapting to manage the ongoing stream of data, implementing strategic business plans to ensure that the company remains on top of current trends. But data volume management can be an arduous undertaking, specifically in highly regulated industries such as the energy industry.

Without implementing some sort of data volume management strategy, organizations leave themselves vulnerable to risk from retaining data beyond corporate policies or penalties incurred from not responding properly to an audit request. Audit requests from tax authorities and regulatory organizations can be challenging, and data volume management needs to be a priority for finance and IT departments so that the organization can remain compliant with data retention policies and then quickly and simply extract data to respond to these requests. While some organizations implement an archiving strategy to retain data after the fact, an increasing number or organizations are digitizing business processes such as accounts payable and journal entry approvals to ensure that information is being stored properly from the beginning.

Read more by downloading the article.

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Southern California Edison Reduces Data Before Moving to SAP HANA

Southern California Edison, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, delivering power to more than 14 million people in California, wanted to improve the performance of their analytics and reporting. The company decided to be one of the first companies to move onto SAP BW HANA. However, to reduce the costs of this move, the company would need to reduce the amount of data in the BW system first.

Solution

Dolphin helped the company implement an SAP data volume management strategy to prepare the company for the move to BW HANA. The strategy incorporated nearline storage to enable the company to control the growth of data in the HANA database and still enable fast access to archived data.

Results

The company deployed BW HANA with near-line storage to reduce total cost of ownership for moving to BW HANA and has achieved both one-time cost savings and on-going cost savings.

  • Initial savings of 170 GB (25%)
  • On-going yearly savings reduce DB growth on HANA (22%/yr.)
  • Yearly growth on BW reduced from 34% to 12%
  • On-going savings realized for HANA hardware, software & labor due to controlled DB growth
  • Enabled company to see a return on investment from BW HANA in 2.5 years, rather than the predicted 15 years

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GE Water & Process Technologies Maximizes Procure to Pay Efficiency with Dolphin

Hear Gretchen Kincade of GE Water & Process Technologies speak about how the company created a global center of excellence for controlling accounts payable activities across a broad multi-national organization to ensure maximum performance, achieve superior match rates, and capture all available discounts.

By integrating the Dolphin Accounts Payable solution with Ariba, GE Water has been able to gain better cost control over the procure-to-pay process with:

  • Increased visibility and global metrics enables centralized oversight of an off shored Accounts Payable process
  • An optimized the entire Buy-to-Pay process to meet and surpass corporate document retention and compliance standards
  • Coordinated large multi-national project with a change leadership strategy to put the right pieces in place for success

 

 

Pepco Holdings: Optimizing Accounts Payable Processes

Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI) is one of the largest energy delivery companies in the mid-Atlantic region wanted to centralize its accounts payable processing to increase efficiencies and lower processing costs. The company had grown gradually through acquisition, and as a result, was receiving, reviewing, approving and processing invoices at more than 20 locations in four states and five jurisdictions. The accounts payable processes were disjointed and very manual, which increased the company’s cost of paying invoices and made it difficult to stay in compliance with the highly regulated industry’s stringent data retention requirements.

Solution
As part of PHI’s Invoice Improvement Project (IIP), the company implemented Dolphin’s Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP) solution with the Supplier Portal by Taulia, for the following key capabilities:

  • Advanced imaging and digitization of invoices
  • SAP-enabled workflow solutions to automatically post or route invoices based on the company’s multi-tiered corporate approval policy
  • Centralized, efficient storage of invoice images for easy access
  • Self-service portal access for self-service invoicing and online inquiries
  • Real-time analytics and reporting on invoice processing metrics for productivity, cash flow, and status tracking.

The solution was rolled out across all three of PHI’s utility companies, Delmarva Power & Light, Atlantic City Electric, and Pepco, in a comprehensive process-driven initiative unlike any other accounts payable project in the utility industry.

Results

The company was able to achieve over $3 million in savings for 2014 – an incredible return on investment. Mary Gabriel, Manager of Accounts Payable and Sarbanes-Oxley stated “Enhanced controls, increased transparency and shortened cycle times are a direct result of the process-centric innovation the solution provides”. Key results include:

  • Reduce the average invoice processing time from 30 days to less than 10
  • Automated the processing of low-dollar, high-volume invoices
  • Improved reporting and compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Reduced document storage fees by 39% for savings of more than $100,000 each year
  • Increase transparency with their suppliers and strengthening their relationships
  • Captured nearly $2 million in discounts in by offering early payments to their suppliers through the intuitive supplier platform

In June 2015, the company received the Supply Chain Excellence award from Southeastern Electric Exchange for its innovative Accounts Payable project.

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Southern California Edison Migrates SAP BW to HANA adding Nearline Storage and Archiving

Hear Ron Grabyan, Manager Data Warehousing Services, describe how Southern California Edison approached migrating BW to HANA and its HANA implementation, and why SCE added an NLS strategy to control growth and achieve payback.

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Global Accounts Payable Success in a Hybrid Outsourced Shared Services Environment

A world-leading global supplier of water treatment, wastewater treatment and process systems solutions centrally received all invoices in the US. In an effort to reduce processing costs, they outsourced the processing to Bangalore, India. However, they soon found that visibility into the process and control became issues.

Solution
Dolphin implemented the Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable, which would allow the company to reduce costs with outsourced processing and still maintain centralized control over invoice processing.  The solution included:

  • Scanning and Capture of manual invoices (mail, fax or email)
  • Real-time data on invoice processing
  • Instant access to invoice documents from within SAP
  • Invoice validation and SAP workflows to address common challenges such as ad-hoc approvals, invoice prioritization and invoice duplication.

The solution enables the US facility to receive invoices by mail, fax or email. The invoices are then scanned and approved. Staff in the US facility also handle vendor inquiries and master data maintenance. The team in India, on the other hand is responsible for indexing the scanned documents and processing the invoices. Both the US and India groups worked together to pinpoint success factors and formalize the necessary hand-offs to support the business process. The solution was implemented in less than four weeks.

Results
Today, 25% of the processing is done in the US; 75% is sent offshore. Benefits of this module include 24-hour work cycles; the ability to structure and assemble teams with diverse skill sets; and the ability to scale up or down depending on the requirements. Other benefits are:

  • Lower cost processing
  • Visibility into the process
  • Process control
  • Greater productivity

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Utility Provider Saves Half a Million Each Year with Accounts Payable Solution

A large regional electric and gas distribution utility with nearly 700,000 customers was going through an acquisition, reorganization and a bankruptcy in a little more than a year. The company  chose to use these changes as an opportunity to address the challenges around invoice processing.

The utility’s Accounts Payable (AP) department received and paid approximately 75,000 invoices, representing $850 million in annual payments annually. The company started by reorganizing  and centralizing the AP department. The reorganization allowed the company to reduce staff but it did not deliver any productivity improvements. Furthermore, the drastic changes at the company resulted in a significant disruption of AP processes. Invoices weren’t being approved on time. Duplicate payments were issued. Invoices were lost. And while productivity was down, overtime was up—AP staff was under pressure to reduce overtime and still get the job done. There were invoice control issues and SOX remediation became a stated priority.

Even after adding employees back, the invoice processing issues remained. The company attempted to upgrade their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) capabilities to include electronic approvals, but the process was too slow. Management needed a quicker fix.

The company decided to move to a centralized processing model that would increase productivity, lower costs, and allow the regulated provider to meet Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) requirements for accounts payable documentation.

Solution
Dolphin recommended a number of improvements that would allow the company to take control of the Accounts Payable process. Dolphin Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP), provided the company with a turnkey solution for managing documents and automating the AP process with our enhanced SAP workflow. Key capabilities of the solution include:

  • Invoice scanning and capture
  • SAP workflows to automate approvals and exception handling
  • Efficient document storage in the company’s existing FileNet repository
  • Robust reporting capabilities for real-time information on invoice status

With real-time invoice information, the company was able to resolve vendor inquiries in minutes rather than days. The company was able to control cash flow and make informed decisions about what invoices needed to be paid and by when.

Results
The company has realized ongoing cost savings from the productivity and efficiency gains. The solution also ensures that the company is able to mitigate risk and comply with policies. The solution was implemented in four months, from initial project planning through go-live. To date, the results have been…

  • Reduced invoice process cycle time
  • Freed 6-8 employees in operating areas allowing them to be deployed to areas of greatest need within the accounting department
  • Decreased overtime 80%
  • Eliminated duplicate payments
  • Gained the ability to have real-time access to information to predict cash requirements
  • Met SOX and other compliance mandates
  • Improved vendor relations
  • Realized goal of annually saving half a million dollars in operating costs

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Big Data Jolts Utilities – Why Harnessing Big Data will Help Companies Surge

POWERGRID International, Feb/March 2015
Dr. Werner Hopf

Big data is everywhere, and utilities are creating more of it every minute. Delivering power is all about efficiency, which is why the energy industry is among those that have fully embraced that big data can unlock insights into how energy is distributed and consumed.

Applying analytics to big data is important, but in the rush to parse and dissect mountains of information, many organizations fail to address the big problem created by big data: There is too much.

Too much data is a drain on many important resources and necessitates a data volume management strategy to ensure high system performance.

Read this article for tips on how to improve performance of SAP systems with a data volume management strategy.

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Big Data’s Big Leap: Energy Providers Invest in SAP HANA to Enhance Data Insights

Electric Energy T&D Magazine,, November/December 2013
Dr. Werner Hopf, CEO of Dolphin

The energy industry is among those which have fully embraced the concept of Big Data with gusto – and why not? Virtually every aspect of the operation creates data which can be saved, culled and analyzed to mine important business intelligence that assists with future decision-making by identifying business opportunities and locating expensive inefficiencies. Big Data can help break down sales trends, find patterns through customer service interactions, weed out waste from the supply chain, and even help to optimize cash flow by optimizing important business processes like procure-to-pay and order-to-cash.

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