Utility Company Automates A/R Processes with SAP Business Warehouse (BW)
Regional utility company cuts reporting process time from three weeks to three hours, eliminates reliance on external spreadsheets and databases, and improves data integrity.
Challenges and Opportunities
A regional utility company wanted to extend its reporting capabilities in SAP beyond monthly financials for the board. One of the utility’s General Managers recognized that its homegrown network of Microsoft Access databases and Excel spreadsheets was inherently error-prone and resulted in many versions of the truth throughout the organization.
The Customer Accounts Receivable team presented the perfect business case. It relied on disparate data sources and time-consuming manual processes to collect and analyze customers’ account data, causing significant delays to complete monthly reports. A/R reporting also suffered from formula errors and missing information, due to the extensive data manipulation outside of the ERP.
Solution and Results
To address the utility company’s objectives, HPC America led the customer through three key steps:
- Identifying and documenting reporting requirements
- Configuring the SAP Business Warehouse (BW)
- Enabling the utility’s front office to monitor key metrics more efficiently, via the creation of new reports and a streamlined reporting process in the new BW system
Our objective was to replace utility’s manual, error-prone process of creating reports with Access and Excel weeks after the close with an automated, “no touch” process using Big Data Analytics available just hours after the last customer bills were calculated each month.
To achieve this, HPC first completed a fresh installation of SAP Business Warehouse (BW) and validated the data to both the SAP General Ledger and the Accounts Receivable sub-ledger. BW would increase both the timeliness and accuracy of the data. We installed and enhanced a standard BW extractor and ETL process to expand the number of fields the utility could use, allowing both summary and detail reporting.
Based on valuable input from one of the utility’s district subject matter experts, HPC was then able to configure BW queries suitable for both management and staff. This would make the new BW system useful for reporting from the board to the district level, including collections management staff responsible for analyzing Accounts Receivables.
HPC also implemented Lumira for graphical presentation of financial data. Lumira gives the customer a picture view of its data in dashboard form, providing more time for analysis and enabling users to drill down from graphs to the underlying granular details. Lumira’s drag-and-drop interface is also so intuitive that it requires very little training to get new users started.
Through HPC’s and the utility’s close collaboration, the utility was able to run an automated production load of data from SAP ECC to BW on June 1, marking the first time the utility was able to analyze accounts receivables for the prior month on the first day of the new month. The A/R team no longer faces a 10- or 15-day lead-time before they can see customer account data—it’s now available in a matter of hours as intended—and has even greater confidence in the accuracy of the numbers.
Next Steps for SAP BW and Fiori
Looking ahead, the utility’s new BW system will be expanded to Budgeting, Revenue, Work Management, and other areas of reporting. SAP Fiori MySpend will be going into production in the coming months, further enabling the utility to capitalize on its robust foundation of information in its SAP Business Warehouse.