Ferranti - NLE challenges the Dutch energy market with MECOMS™
NLE has a mission: challenging the Dutch gas and electricity markets to stir up competition. After a successfully ascend in the residential market, NLE went after commercial and industrial customers. In this highly competitive market, success depends even more on consistently offering better service at lower prices.
NLE decided to in-source all of its back-office processes, and chose MECOMS™ as the basis of its IT solution. After a remarkably short implementation, NLE was able to lower its operational costs while providing even better service.
Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij (NLE) sells electricity and gas to households and commercial & industrial customers in the Netherlands.
Daan Van Dulst, Director Operations at NLE: "The Dutch energy market was deregulated more than ten years ago, but there was hardly any competition. NLE was founded in 2005 with a mission to challenge the residential energy market. Armed with only an Excel spreadsheet, we set off to win customers from the incumbents."
NLE became famous for its assertive marketing style, and started eating away at the residential customer base of the incumbents. Mr. Van Dulst: "People take energy for granted: it’s a low interest product. We started as a real sales and marketing company, and most operational processes were outsourced. We introduced ambitious prices to rapidly acquire new customers."
By 2012, NLE had become the fourth largest supplier in the Dutch energy market. To continue its growth, NLE decided to enter the commercial and industrial (C&I) energy market, with a similar mission of increasing competition through lower prices.
Mr. Van Dulst: "We are the challenger in the market, and keep the competition on its toes. In the C&I market, customers are even more price sensitive. Moreover, they employ professional buyers who expect excellent customer service."
To retain their edge, NLE decided to increase control by gradually in-sourcing its business processes. Mr. Van Dulst: ""
First, the contact centers for residential and C&I customers were moved in-house. The next step was to in-source all the back-office processes. To do so, NLE needed a new IT system.
Finding a solution
Wessel Lamers, Manager of NLE Business: "Our greatest challenge was finding an out-of-the-box IT solution to optimally serve our corporate customers. It should support segmenting for single sites and multi-sites, but also for high and low consumption customers. Also, it had to be an integrated product, supporting the complete cycle, including market, sell, fulfil, collect, bill and serve. Therefore, we organized an extensive selection process to compare vendors of integrated products on a number of criteria."
Mr. van Dulst: "During the vendor selection, we have paid special attention to who could offer a working product off the shelf. While other vendors could only show us PowerPoint presentations or very limited functionality, Ferranti was the only vendor who could show us a working system."
Mr. van Dulst continues: "The product should support all basic processes of the Dutch energy market, with the possibility to do flexible customizations based on our requirements and changes in the market. Based on our comparison, we believe that MECOMS™, which is based on Microsoft technology, scores the highest in this regard."
Mr. Lamers: "In the end, we chose MECOMS™ because it is proven technology: it works."
Sander Elshof, Manager Back-Office at NLE: "We did the project with a team of only five people, and it was delivered within a year. This was truly a business project: we did not have to worry about technology, since this was all covered by MECOMS™. We were able to do the project according to real business needs."
Mr. Elshof continues: "The cooperation with Ferranti was very smooth: we could always spar about concrete challenges and solutions. Sometimes, when we had to make a lot of decisions, we would just get together in a meeting room. We were able to take decisive action, without endless discussions about budgets, scoping, etc. which are all too common in many other IT projects."
Mr. van Dulst: "In reality, MECOMS™ really proves to be quite easy to change. We were used to traditional energy systems, with massive, cascading change trajectories. With MECOMS™, changes are made in an agile way, which works very well. Most new functionality is delivered and live within two weeks of our request, which is exactly what we needed."
Mr. Elshof: "The project was divided in three phases of four months each. After each phase, a working piece of software would be delivered. So the first go-live was already after four months, which is very fast for a project of this size."
Mr. Elshof: "When we informed our people about MECOMS™ and the changes it would bring, we noticed a general enthusiasm. People were eager to use the new system and our project could not be delivered fast enough. I am relieved that in reality people actually like MECOMS™ as much as anticipated. It really helps us run our business."
Mr. Lamers: "I feel very positive about the MECOMS™ project. There was an immediate fit with our business."
Mr. Elshof: "I am delighted about how a small team was able to realize our goals within such a short time frame. The experience of Ferranti and the quality of the product were an essential contribution."
Mr. Elshof concludes: "Since using MECOMS™, our operational costs have gone down, which allowed us to lower our prices. Meanwhile, we have more time for our customers, so we can offer better service. This is exactly what we need to be successful in the Dutch energy market."