The liberalization of the electricity market for all business customers requires some adaptation on both customers’ and service providers’ sides. In this regard, two years ago CEZ Electro Bulgaria AD paid special attention to its technological capabilities related to the sale of electricity to a large number of customers to determine whether it is ready to deal professionally with the forthcoming legislative changes.
Initially, the company tries to find a solution among the systems it already works with. However, it turns out that they require too much manual work and will not be able to meet its plans to retain customers in Western Bulgaria and enter the market more actively in the rest of the country. "You make the trade contract in one system, enter data in the other so that it can be invoiced. In the evening, sales reps report sales in an additional system and thus monitor them. This was extremely inconvenient and did not correspond to our future plans to meet the needs of our existing customers and expansion to other territories, " says Dimcho Stanev, CEO of CEZ Electro Bulgaria AD. This is the main reason for the company to focus on finding a new solution that not only offers security and convenience but also allows for upgrades and expansion later.
"For this reason, we looked for functionality that is not only the typical CRM system, i.e. not only includes customer relationship management but also covers the entire process - from the idea of sales and planning, through the purchase of electricity, to the sales themselves and the after-sales period with our customers. We are the largest trader with end customers and that is why we were looking for the safest, fastest, easiest and most convenient system that would provide us not only with the present but also the near and distant future ", adds Dimcho Stanev.
Dimcho Stanev, Executive Director of CEZ Electro Bulgaria
After reviewing the market offers, CEZ Electro's shortlist includes three world-famous solutions, with the final choice of the company being Salesforce as a system and Next Consult as a partner in the implementation of the platform.
"The successful implementation of a system depends not only on its price, but also on knowing what you want from it and especially on the consultant who understands it, and together you find the right solution to the issues that arise. In this sense, we chose Next Consult and found a reliable partner in them", says Dimcho Stanev.
The implementation of the project for overall optimization and digitalization of the processes related to customer relationship management goes through several stages. First of all, CEZ Electro pays special attention to defining the scope, internal tasks, and the plan that will be followed in the implementation phase. The company aims for the new system to not only increase sales, but also optimize all related processes, and information between the various platforms used to be shared, integrated and accessible at all times.
"We want to be not only a classic electricity trader but also a modern company that offers a full range of services. In the implementation of the project, we focused on the sales process, the purchase of electricity, forecasting what energy we need to secure the portfolio, document management and, of course, something extremely important - both for me and for my colleagues who manage sales directly - to have the vision of what you want to do at the palm of your hand, as a whole, by sales units, sales reps and for each customer. This is key if you want to be able to sell qualitatively and quickly nowadays," says Mr. Stanev.
At the next stage, the company focuses its efforts on the technical details of the project, which, in addition to the mandatory scope, also include future functionalities for implementation, including a connection to the next products, next sales, after-sales business and process optimization. In addition, the company plans to facilitate cross-selling by taking advantage of all the information gathered in different systems, combining it using a BI approach.
The next step is the development and implementation itself, which starts in June 2020 and ends in December of the same year, followed by the official launch of the solution. During the implementation, an interface is built between Salesforce and the main billing and service system in CEZ Electro (SAP) in order to synchronize and complete the information.
"The customer's business model itself is very complex, the processes are very complicated, the scale is huge, the customer base is very large (more than 1.7 million customers, of which over 106,000 legal entities). In addition, success in the project depended on completing a very serious integration between the core system (SAP) and Salesforce in order to centralize information and eliminate unnecessary duplication of activities," says Maxim Kolev, CRM Solutions partner at Next Consult.
Maxim Kolev, Partner, CRM Solutions at Next Consult
Challenges are rarely lacking in projects of this scale. In the case of CEZ Electro, the first hurdle comes just weeks after the start of the implementation of the already defined scope. Two weeks after the start of the project, regulatory requirements were introduced that oblige all business customers to enter the free energy market. Until then, they were serviced by CEZ Electro as a final supplier, i.e. at regulated prices, which swiftly changed the scope of the project, the complexity of implementation and the volume of migrated data. This changes the complexity of the task and requires additional data migration.
“Next Consult demonstrated flexibility and professionalism by adapting the scope of the project and the deadlines for implementation. Given the complexity and unpredictability at this step, I would say that they performed with absolute professionalism and on December 11, 2020, we had a working system", says the CEO of CEZ Electro Bulgaria AD Mr. Stanev.
According to Maxim Kolev, all this was made possible in such a short time thanks to the technology itself, which allows the implementation of relatively small steps, but with a view over how the system will develop in the future. For the expert, one of the most critical stages of the project turned out to be the development of a quote configuration tool. The reason for this is that in the specific field of calculation of the price quote for a client is complex and based on many parameters that must be taken into account. This has necessitated a very complex development by Next Consult.
"The task itself was not easy, but even more challenging was the requirement of CEZ Electro, the preparation of an offer and the conclusion of a contract with a customer to take an extremely short time. Hence, price calculation and contract management are some of the most complex and important processes in the company's project. Today, the entire process of customer relationship management is managed through the Salesforce platform - from defining a potential customer, through quote configuration, signing and managing contracts and their subsequent service", says Kolev.
According to Dimcho Stanev, the good results from the project, which the company is currently enjoying, are due to the precisely defined scope of the project, the stable partner in the face of "Next Consult" and last but not least - the support provided within the organization by senior management and employees working with the system. Following the success of the CRM platform, CEZ Electro is already looking ahead and planning its next steps. The company envisages the development of retail functionalities, as well as the introduction of business analysis and marketing functionality in the offering and sales processes.
"Our joint project with CEZ Electro Bulgaria AD is truly successful due to several main reasons. Of course, in the first place - the direct participation of senior management throughout the entire project implementation period, very clearly defined goals, the involvement of employees from all levels of hierarchy, and the extremely good organization and efficiency of work. Second is the innovative way of thinking and the perceived need for digital transformation of the company. It was a pleasure for us to work with the CEZ team and we are happy that together we have completed this successful project, "adds Kolev.
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