Digitized processes increase efficiency

TIMETOACT & X-INTEGRATE accompany energy supplier e-regio on the way to digitalization

Digitalization has made the behavior of energy suppliers' customers more fluid: a mouse click and the electricity provider is changed. But companies can respond to this with the same exact tools. Digital solutions help accelerating business processes, creating web-based contact options, simplifying billing processes and thus offering better service overall. The e-regio GmbH & Co. KG, a regional energy service provider from Euskirchen, Germany, is extensively advised by TIMETOACT GROUP as its partner for digitalization, both technically and professionally.

With TIMETOACT GROUP, e-regio found a partner for their way into digitalization, who thinks visionary and at the same time knows which concrete steps and measures are necessary to best achieve their goals. The Cologne-based corporate group brought their expertise in the areas of content management, archiving, collaboration and project management to the IT project. Another comprehensive project area was the design and implementation of electronic, automated workflows for better control of business processes at e-regio. Here the TIMETOACT subsidiary X-INTEGRATE with its focus on process management came into play.  

On our way to digitalization, TIMETOACT is the first point of contact for us and supports us in all technical and professional matters. A competent partner is essential today if you want to explore the new technical possibilities and put yourself in a better competitive position.

Oliver MoritzDeputy General Managere-regio

The   joint project at the end of 2017 was to set up two workflows with which the energy supplier wanted to automate its business processes - also at the interface to external parties - and thus make them run faster. Topic was the network construction process, a classic standard procedure: e-regio lays 3,000 house connections per year, plus 100-200 supply lines. The Lotus Notes system used to manage these processes was out of date and needed to be replaced. X-INTEGRATE received the order to implement a Business Process Management solution based on IBM BPM.  

Like other energy suppliers, e-regio uses special software solutions for the control and planning of construction projects such as Lovion or Lima. However, these are very technical and cover only a part of the process chain. The process component of X-INTEGRATE starts earlier, considers the entire process of the customer and thus connects different departments with each other: sales, accounting, technical planning, external partners and service providers (plant constructors, civil engineers etc.).

As a specialist for process automation, X-INTEGRATE analyzes the actual processes for optimization possibilities, evaluates and consolidates the professional and technical framework conditions and designs the target processes together with the customer. Subsequently, the requirements are implemented in an agile project context under the project management of X-INTEGRATE and transferred to production.

The connection process now starts when the customer sends the request to the energy supplier via a web portal. There they enter the type of connection and attach the relevant documents. At this point, the BPM application is called into action. It checks whether it is a new or existing customer and whether there is already a customer service representative. If so, this person is contacted directly; if not, a customer service representative is assigned - depending on the type of building (rental/office building). The process is thus automated in such a way that those responsible in the company automatically receive exactly the documents (such as construction plans) that they need to move the process forward more quickly.

Faster to the house connection via BPM

Several customers also send their inquiries by e-mail. Then this is the starting point for the electronic workflow. The first step is to automate the processing of inquiries, followed by the preparation of an offer. Once the customer has confirmed the offer, the next step in the process begins: the planning data required for construction work is created and passed on to Lovion. Conversely, the project management software transfers information to the BPM tool for billing, invoicing or archiving. This means that the BPM tool can be docked to existing solutions for individual process steps, such as project planning. There is no need for end-to-end automation over it, but its modular use also allows for partial automation scenarios.

Procurement of ABC goods

The second major process that X-INTEGRATE has set up for the energy service provider is procurement. From the simplest office materials to pipes, meters and other technical equipment, the company orders between 5,000 and 10,000 items per year. Each of the 400 employees is a potential buyer and thus a user of the web-based BPM solution. X-INTEGRATE has individually adapted it to the needs of the users. "Procurement is a mass process and must run smoothly", says Oliver Moritz, Head of Network Documentation/IT/Project Management at e-regio GmbH & Co. KG. A wide variety of order types are placed in the company: from office clerks who need a new printer cartridge every six months to the specialist department that orders several hundred meters of pipes every day. e-regio accommodates them all with the software. Maverick Buying is thus prevented. There is control over who orders what, and supervisors can intervene.  

TIMETOACT supports archive system

Headquarters of e-regio in Euskirchen

e-regio uses the Filenet P8 system as the electronic basis for all its business documents. This system is maintained by archive experts from TIMETOACT GROUP. It thus replaced a previous system from which 6.5 million documents were migrated. "We were looking for a software which allows us to also operate e-mail archiving", says Oliver Moritz. In the archive, electronic as well as scanned and full-text recognized incoming documents such as inquiries and invoices are automatically stored. When e-regio was looking for a new project management tool in early 2018, Jira from Atlassian quickly came up for discussion. TIMETOACT GROUP has 20 years of expertise in Collaboration and, as a Gold Solution Partner of the manufacturer, has extensive experience in using the Atlassian portfolio for project and teamwork for customers in all industries. Felicitas Linden, Project Manager at e-regio: "We already knew Jira as a customer of TIMETOACT and place tickets as external users in their Jira system." So the advantages of the solution were already known and it was quickly decided to use it in-house.

Jira was implemented in spring 2019 within one work week on e-regio's servers. A selection of employees received half a day of project management training as well as Jira basics. The training sessions resulted in specific user requirements that TIMETOACT implemented in the software. After that, the productive use already started.

Jira an invaluable help with the fusion project

Jira was immediately put to the test with a mammoth project: the forthcoming merger with a neighboring energy supplier. A huge number of tasks and milestones had to be coordinated in this context. In order not to forget anything, everything that had to do with the merger was to be consolidated in the project management tool. "The truth is in Jira," Oliver Moritz sums it up. He knew from reports of other energy suppliers who also merged and tried to organize this with Excel lists and e-mails: This might work for smaller coordination tasks. But for a comprehensive project like a merger, this is the wrong way to go. In the multitude of information, the general view is simply lost and some things are overlooked. 250 of the 400 employees at e-regio work with the project management software and used it to centrally record all facts relevant to the merger. There they can also be linked with topics from completely different areas. Tasks can be aggregated, milestones can be recorded, and individual topic commissioners have taken care of them. Module, project and business managers meet regularly and use Jira to monitor the achievement of the next goal. This enabled them to keep a close eye on where the problem lies. In this way, e-regio and Jira reliably mapped all tasks related to the merger.

The managing directors and managers also used the tool regularly to obtain information. The merger was completed on October 1, 2019. "If 400 people were sending each other e-mails and working in Excel lists with different versions, we would hardly have been able to keep to this schedule," Oliver Moritz is certain. After the successful completion of the merger, Jira will be used in the future for other classic project management tasks that were previously done with Excel.

In addition to the BPM projects, the Jira implementation and archive support, e-regio has also purchased classic products from TIMETOACT GROUP, without any associated project. The collaboration solution IBM Connections, for example, which is used as an intranet and managed by TIMETOACT. All solutions are operated by e-regio onpremises on its own servers; TIMETOACT provides managed services for Jira and Connections and X-INTEGRATE provides managed services for the BPM platform. Oliver Moritz: "On our way to digitalization, TIMETOACT is the first point of contact for us and supports us in all technical and professional matters. Today, a competent partner is essential if you want to explore the new technical possibilities and put yourself in a better competitive position".

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The e-regio GmbH & Co. KG is a versatile and modern energy service provider with its headquarters in Euskirchen. In addition to its function as a gas supplier and network operator, the company supplies its customers with electricity and water.

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Bernd Zinn
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