Let’s first understand Utility, and then we will extend the concept to SAP Utility.
What does Utility really mean?
Utility has 2 different meanings based on its context.
1. In Economics & game theory Utility means the Satisfaction a person receives from the use of goods or service
2. In business Utility refers to a company which produces and distributes vital energy or water resources (essential nature of service) to customers. Generally these companies usually operate as a local monopoly regulated by the government to protect consumers from price gouging.
Ok, now that I know the literal meaning, what it really means to me?
When one moves to a house or an apartment, one need basic services like gas, water, electricity, sewage, broadband internet, All these comes under utility sector.
As utility companies require significant infrastructure to build and maintenance, there are very few players in the business. Very less market completion exists in this sector. One firm when able to produces at lower cost than competitors, competitors eventually priced out of the market (natural monopoly). Moreover duplication of efforts by other firms is wasteful as the industry is characterized by economies of scale. Therefore governments regulate public utilities so that there won’t be monopoly side effects on consumers and they can receive a reasonable service at a fair price. The regulations help in reliability, universal accessibility and national security.
In many countries utilities are owned by government. Government creates autonomous bodies to prevent them from political interference. The goals of these bodies are generally aligned towards societal goals. For all utilities operational excellence is an important differentiator. Achieving this ambitious goal depends on optimizing cutomer facing or resource consuming process without weakening the quality of products and services.
SAP ISU: Industry specific solution for Utilities Industry
It is also referred as SAP CCS (Customer care and services) /SAP CR&B (Customer Relations and Billing).
It is used for managing and billing residential, commercial, industrial and prospective customers.
1. Device management
2. Customer Service
3. Billing and Invoicing
4. FICA (Contracts account receivable and payable for utilities, insurance and telecom module) (I will define each in the upcoming blogs)
It uses full-fledged R3 components like Material management, Plant & Maintenance, Sales & distribution and Warehouse management.
1. Regional Structure (Postal & Political)
3. Meter reading Unit
5. Schedule master records
1. Business Master data
a. Business partner
b. Contract Account
c. Utility Contract
2. Technical Master data
a. Connection Object
c. Device Location
Business master data and technical master data are integrated by having utility installation.
SAP ISU Integration
The integration of the SAP BW, SAP CRM and SAP IS-U systems makes it possible to model and analyze all sales processes - from customer acquisition through product ordering to billing - across all systems.
CRM: Customer Interaction System
CRM is the front-end system used for interaction with the customer. It contains the full range of functions from the areas of marketing, sales, and customer retention
CRM performs all activities relating to customer interaction. Various channels, such as call centers, Internet and laptops can be used to communicate with customers. Data objects are synchronized via the Middleware and exchanged with the backend and analysis systems.
IS-U: System for Device Management, Contract Accounts Receivable and Payable, Billing, and Invoicing. IS-U is the backend system. Information on new customers is not transferred to IS-U until a contract has been concluded with the customer. It contains all the data and transactions for the following areas: device management, contract accounts receivable and payable, billing, and invoicing.
BW: System for Analyses, Planning, Monitoring, and Success Checks. When integrated, serves as instrument for analyses, planning, monitoring, and success checks. BW enables you to gather information from any system (CRM, FI, IS-U as well as external systems) in Info Cubes and evaluate them based on your requirements.
Data Synchronization between CRM and IS-U
Both IS-U and CRM can operate independently and in combination with external systems. This necessitates the existence of central objects in both systems. In an integrated scenario, there are a few objects that are synchronized via the Middleware since they must be available in both systems. The integrated scenario SAP CRM and SAP IS-U supports the automatic synchronization of the following objects:
· Business partners and their contract accounts
· Connection objects and points of delivery
· IS-U contacts in CRM activities