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Synergy is Western Australia’s largest energy retailer with a customer base of more than 900,000 home and business customers and revenues in excess of $1.6 billion per annum.
In 2006, the Western Australian Government disaggregated the vertically integrated energy monopoly into generation, network and retailing. Synergy launched a business transformation (BT) program in preparation for the increasing competition that would occur under Western Australia’s reformed energy market conditions. Synergy’s aim was to improve the customer experience, drive business efficiency and reduce the cost-to-serve—all in preparation for full retail competition.
In close collaboration with Accenture through an initiative entitled Project Columbus, Synergy developed a complex solution replacing more than 30 legacy systems with a single platform based on SAP technology, including billing, customer relationship management and e-business capabilities. Furthermore, in addition to Accenture’s scope, an entirely new Web channel was built to support Web-based consumption analytics of advanced metering technology.
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When the Western Australian Government disaggregated the vertically integrated energy monopoly into generation, network and retailing in 2006, Synergy was in no way prepared for full retail competition.
The company had antiquated business processes, old technology and organizational silos. Synergy was unable to provide customers with good service and products that met the market requirements. It faced the challenge of lengthy time to market and it wasn’t able to provide some products and services at all.
Synergy was reluctant to reengineer its entire business and technology from scratch and sought an organization to team with that had deep experience in business process reengineering as well as proven methodologies and tools. By selecting Accenture, Synergy was able to leverage industry-leading blueprints, professionals with deep industry experience, proven processes and technology as well as the capability to deliver the project on a global scale.
Synergy’s aim was to improve the customer experience, drive business efficiency and reduce the cost-to-serve—all in preparation for full retail competition. In addition, it targeted a 25 percent reduction in cost-to-serve from a range of front- and back-office initiatives.
The scope of this project included four dimensions of work:
In close collaboration with Accenture, Synergy developed a complex solution replacing more than 30 legacy systems with a single platform based on SAP technology including billing, customer relationship management and e-business capabilities. Furthermore, in addition to Accenture’s scope an entirely new Web channel was built to support Web-based consumption analytics of advanced metering technology.
“The value Accenture delivered was in having done it before, knowing what the best practices are for retailers around the world," said Jim Mitchell, Synergy CEO. "I think we're the 28th group on their platform, so they had experienced people and they had the systems procedures, processes and governance to ensure that we could deliver this project properly.”
In less than two years Synergy implemented one of the most comprehensive and technologically advanced business operating platforms in use by any utility across Australia. It has achieved a rapid evolution from a rigid, integrated, government-owned utility to an agile, commercial entity driving more than $15 billion worth of power procurement projects.
Project Columbus fundamentally transformed Synergy in several ways. The company has now re-organized itself along process lines, significantly reduced its cost to serve and established the mechanisms and systems to allow it to provide products and services that are relevant today and, more importantly, tomorrow, for its customers.
As a result of its collaboration with Accenture, Synergy can service its customers significantly better. It can offer substantially more advanced products and services as well as a state-of-the-art Web channel—all at a completely different cost base. Before go live, Synergy was already able to reduce its cost-to-serve by 15 percent and following go live, is expecting to reduce it another 25 percent.
“I've always related to the system platform like an elite athlete having asthma," said Mitchell. You can run as hard as you like but if you don't get the oxygen in you just stumble and fail whereas what the platform's allowed us to do is to basically get the full intake of oxygen so we can perform in a whole lot of other areas. It's just basically given us a new breath of life.”
Stephan Sauerwein, Synergy's BT director, added: “Accenture was able to help us on all dimensions of our business transformation program—on strategy, business process reengineering, organizational redesign and technology and, last but not least, Accenture helped us to deliver this project on time and on budget.”
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