AES Electropaulo, a branch of Brazilian energy giant AES Brasil, has streamlined its billing process in an attempt to improve its client relationships.
AES Electropaulo distributes power to 24 cities within Sao Paulo state, and claims to be the largest electricity distributor in Latin America.
Its 12m Brazilian real (£3.3m) project enabled the company to expand its new billing delivery system to more than 400,000 families in Osasco, Carapicuiba and the district of Paraisopolis in August, and to one million customers in total by the end of 2013.
The company has worked with SAP to develop billing software that enables clients to receive their bills immediately after the energy consumption reading and metering process is complete.
The old process took six steps for AES staff: they had to go to customers' homes, offices or factories, take the meter reading, return to the office, upload all captured meter readings from their mobile devices into the back-end system, generate invoices and then send those invoices to the customer.
Now, a member of the AES team verifies the meter reading, identifies consumption, and calculates the price of the bill with a handheld device - the process is integrated into the business system and the electric bill is printed and delivered to the customer at the end of the reading.
According to AES Electropaulo's CIO, Antonio Narvaez, the new workflow takes up to a minute from end to end, while the old system used to take up to three days.
"Our previous process used to take three days from capturing the meter reading to the customer receiving their invoice, the whole new process takes around one minute, and that alone made the business case for us to go ahead with the implementation," he said on SAP's Innovation Tour in Brazil.
Narvaez explained that AES considered both online and offline billing and invoice generation, as it uses 3G to send data back to its SAP back-end system.
The Utility firm needed an alternative solution in case signal coverage was poor, and so the offline version enables AES employees to calculate energy consumption and billing items on their handheld devices, and to process the invoice when they return to base, printing out the customer's copy there and then.
When the signal returns, AES employees can use the online function to send the data back to the AES system as required. The system, he said, can also be connected through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or fibre optic cables.
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