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Author's profile photo Kenneth Ringera

A Wellness Program for Utilities in Africa.

Five things a Power Utility should consider to remain Healthy and Well.

Numerous wellness programs for individuals exist that have been written to help people mirror the life of very successful individuals. I was reading one such article by ICAS a wellness company that helps corporates create plans for wellness for their employees and this article dated 30th July 2015 got me thinking;

What would a wellness program for a Power Utility in Sub-Saharan Africa look like? What should the Power Utility be considering at the bare minimum. And I thought these five elements would make for a good start.

1) Infrastructure development built on Operational efficiency for the Plants and Grid

In the recent past and across the African continent huge investments are being made in the Utilities. Many African Utilities are rising to the occasion so that they can bring light into every home under a quest known as the universal access.

Many of these initiatives are funded by the International Financial Institutions in various capacity building programs. A major one is the POWER AFRICA initiative by USAID and there are many others. Needless to say the time is now. A growing population and youthful one at that needs electricity power to engineer the next Industrial revolution in Africa.

There is no gainsaying that providing access to electricity provides for an improvement in a country’s contribution to the economy both locally and globally. This positive proven fact is driving another key milestone that sub Saharan Africa is looking to grow which is the Entrepreneurial aspect of the economies where growth is expected from small medium businesses.

As the Utilities plan to expand they should consider a technology platform that helps support this undertaking. SAP Capital Portfolio and Project Management can be used to support the huge capital investments as its a solution that helps Improve transparency into capital projects to manage risks, activities, budgets and costs.

2) Procurement
Another wellness area results directly from the above Infrastructure expansion. A Utility needs to engage in heavy procurement for goods and services as they build the Plants and grid many utilities in Sub-Saharan Africa are finding its important to streamline their procurement process to reduce inventory costs and to create a more robust and transparent environment where various suppliers can help the utilities in procurement cost savings. While many utilities focus on revenue, procurement Savings can help increase profits with far higher impact.

SAP Ariba solution can help with Supplier discovery and lifecycle management where utilities can find new suppliers on the Ariba network, where they can manage these relationships online, identify and act on sourcing opportunities, create favourable, low risk contracts. The better a Utility can procure and Source the more they can accelerate their procurement turnaround.

3) Managing Talent and delivering efficient Human Resources processes

The need to align the new business strategies with the people. Power Utilities must now manage the expansion and the need for new skills and training required to support the expanded network.

The need to improve the employee productivity means then the most important element that must be considered is then obviously improvement in new Human resources requirements and new ways of working to leverage mobile devices to increase customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.

SAP Success Factors solution that covers Talent management, Core Human Resources Business processes, Time and Attendance Management and on boarding new employees, reducing the costs of HR processes by enabling employee self service to free the HR department to deal with Strategic HR requirements and training. SAP Workforce Planning and Analytics can also help Utilities move with speed towards having the people on the field doing all scheduled and routine work in a streamlined fashion to support the expanded Grid network.

4) Customer Experience

Customers have changed how they engage with utility companies and they now want to communicate via Twitter or on Facebook or instagram when they need to report an outage whether its planned or not, report poor service, wrong billing etc. The need for a seamless way for a utility to communicate, the need for proper customer engagement grows as you on-board new customers. The need to provide a customer with a full view of what to expect when the Power utility provides an Invoice or provides the prepaid token continues to be a key aspect that will differentiate most utilities.

Consumers want the Uber experience as they deal with their Power Bill and solutions to key issues they have raised.

SAP Multi Channel Marketing, is a single platform for all marketing activities, and can help utilities gain Insights, build trust and loyalty with customers through relevant customer communications and campaigns.

SAP Bill to cash is the solution that can help manage the billing and invoicing for customers, receivables management & handling payments,credit and risk collections. A customer will delay their payment if they can’t understand the bill such delays cost the companies and result to huge DSO (daily sales outstanding) issues for the company and this leads to low cash flow.

5) Business Intelligence and Predictive analytics

Finally to really understand todays Utility challenges as they try to keep well one must take cognisance of the world we now live in. In a world where machine to machine communication and devices are creating more data ever day and data is growing exponentially utilities must adopt proper integrated Business intelligence solutions. Many times time is wasted where Field Engineers have no visibility of what is happening to the grid and the ability to see into the existing data exists. From the shop floor to the top floor data needs to be shared to enable the utilities move faster and adapt to the needs of the enterprise. With an expanding network utilities must be able to predict using data the effects it will have on people, on their bottom line and customers.

SAP Business Intelligence can empower the utilities to make more informed decisions. SAP Enterprise Performance Management is a portfolio of solutions that can help the Chief Finance Officer and Strategy department deliver on their mandate. Having a well to do Utility Enterprise is within grasp for any forward looking Utility.

SAP Strategy Management can help with better visibility into how the strategy will be executed and the decisions that have to be made to manage the expanding network and the resources that have to be applied. It helps management and the board understand and make better decisions to secure the future and to innovate daily.

In conclusion the Utilities that have a plan will win. Having a plan means investing in a Single Integrated platform that has been tried and tested by your peers and making a part of the Roadmap to success. Most important though is making sure that the plan is executed sooner rather than later. Many utilities have plans that continue to gather dust based on old thinking. So progressive utilities will always forge forward and seize the moment.

As Utilities continue to progress, opportunities will continue to come their way and Innovation will become the order of the day. So to constantly embrace change and create a learning organisation is essential to remain well as a Utility. Hopefully all boards and managements for Utilities will ensure that a stable sound platform is part of the current expansionand a key component. Utilities are a key pillar to a better Sub Saharan Africa.


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