New survey reveals dilemma for utilities seeking operational excellence

Atlanta, GA, Nov. 7, 2005 — In an era of higher energy prices, utilities are keenly focused on seeking operational excellence in their customer service delivery, but they are struggling with organizational, technology integration and human resource challenges, according to a pulse survey conducted by Indus International Inc. and Capgemini U.S. LLC.

Capgemini, a company specializing in consulting, technology and outsourcing, and Indus, a service delivery management (SDM) solution provider, surveyed 150 participants attending the IndusWorld Users Conference to better understand organizations’ business needs in regard to service delivery management. Survey participants said their organizations view positive customer experience as a primary corporate goal (61.1 percent) but acknowledged that customer satisfaction had not improved in most cases (67 percent). The survey suggests that organizational silos (38.7 percent) and ERP integration issues (23.9 percent) are the principal barriers to enhanced service delivery.

“This survey provides significant evidence that companies’ drive to improve their customers’ experience is being impeded by a range of challenges related to their business processes and technology systems,” said Stewart Sanders, applications management product manager at Capgemini. “Many companies are following a best-of-breed applications strategy for customer service delivery but are struggling to integrate these applications effectively.”

“This survey shows that many of our customers face the same challenges we see within our new target markets,” said Indus VP of marketing and product management Steve Roth. “Service delivery management strategies offer tremendous value to organizations in numerous industries. But, these strategies can not be employed effectively with broad ERP systems or a hodge-podge of niche best-of-breed applications. As this survey suggests, only by deploying a comprehensive, process-centric SDM solution… can organizations overcome the organizational silos and integration challenges presented by ERP and best-of-breed applications.”

Nearly 33 percent of respondents said their companies employ best-of-breed applications to enable their service delivery management while 20 percent use in-house, custom-developed applications, the second largest category. Only 14 percent employ an ERP suite for SDM and 13 percent say their company has no clear vision or strategy for IT enablement of SDM.

Forty percent said their company’s ERP system is not providing the technology support needed to manage service delivery.

“Attendees had an even more interesting response regarding ERP: 38 percent were unsure whether their ERP system is providing the support necessary to manage service delivery,” Sanders said. “This reflects a surprising level of uncertainty. Only 23 percent could say for sure that their ERP software provided the necessary support.”

The survey also paints a revealing picture of the status of companies’ asset management systems. Many companies (30 percent) view improved asset management as a key vehicle for reducing operational costs but are still striving to unlock untapped efficiencies.

Respondents cited the need to improve asset optimization, optimize inventory levels, improve the efficiency of administration and reduce unplanned outages. However, many companies’ asset management programs are characterized by a growing and increasingly complex asset base which is supported by outdated systems, without enough funding to invest in functionality necessary to increase asset performance.

Other survey responses provide interesting insight into some of the symptoms of the underlying integration issues:

* A majority (57 percent) said their company has good visibility into the services, construction and maintenance work types, but only 47 percent believe their company can manage and assign that work based on skills.

* About 37 percent have visibility into all customer contacts for the purpose of managing those contacts from the time they are initiated until they are closed. About 35 percent didn’t have that visibility and 27 percent weren’t sure.

* Despite the high marks on visibility, most companies’ customer service representatives aren’t able to make commitments about when work will be performed nor do they provide up-to-the-minute status of work in progress (44 percent). Twenty six percent weren’t sure whether their company’s CSR could make those commitments.

* A majority (53 percent) are not able to automatically assign work orders to technicians and crews in an optimal order.

“There’s a notable contrast between companies’ access to information on work types and their ability to act on it. The inability of many companies to provide up-to-the-minute progress reports to consumers probably explains the survey’s finding that nearly 47 percent don’t offer service level agreements to their customers ௿½ in fact, only 32 percent affirmed that they do provide those sorts of agreements,” Capgemini’s Sanders said.

“In sum, there are significant challenges to companies’ ability to perfect their customer systems, but there is a spirit of willingness and a sense of urgency the likes of which we have not seen in recent years,” Sanders said. “It’s our hope companies follow through on their conviction that customer service delivery management is viable and needed today.”

Previous articleSewage gas used to power wastewater treatment facility in Europe
Next articleAqua America earns Green Power award

No posts to display