April 2023

How IFS software enables the energy sector to address its biggest operational challenges

It is never a case of ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) and other complex software initiatives. To maximise the chances of a successful project, factors such as sector-specific expertise, vendor reputation and the quality of support on offer must all be given special consideration during the solution selection/procurement process.

This is especially the case for businesses operating within the energy sector. From the revival of the switching economy, through to intense pressure to diversify and decarbonise, energy companies are facing a complex mix of sector-specific operational and market driven challenges at present.

With a track record of serving the needs of the energy sector since its inception, global cloud enterprise software company, IFS is acutely aware of the implications of these challenges.

Here’s how its offerings are equipping energy companies to tackle them head on…

1. Business-wide challenges demand an integrated approach

If a particular plant is hit with performance issues, or a sudden policy shift impacts a niche area of operations, what are the implications for the entire business? What does it mean both operationally – and for your bottom line?

Resource planning and performance management have never been easy for this sector. However, over recent years especially, it seems that the problems faced by energy – political instability, volatile pricing, and, of course, the pressure to hit net-zero, to name just a few – are of a different nature. For one thing, they are less localised: i.e. if an event hits, its implications are rarely confined to a particular business function boundary or geographical area. Another increasing descriptor of such challenges is non-linear: the idea that the full impact of an event or decision is difficult to trace and understand.

For energy enterprises to get a grip on performance and make the right decisions on asset management and allocation, they need clear visibility over all moving parts of the business. This includes linkages to possible early warning signs on performance-related issues. IFS appreciates this better than anyone. Its applications – including EAM, ERP, Enterprise and Asset Lifecycle Management – are made available through a fully composable, integrated platform. It enables planners to collect key information all in one place, get a joined-up picture of performance and make timely, better-informed business decisions.

2. Supporting enhanced customer service

As the price cap gradually becomes redundant, the coming months look set to see a return to competition across the energy sector.

The first stage will most likely take the form of a switching bonanza as customers cast their eyes across a newly competitive market and head for the most attractive tariffs. Beyond this however, savvy operators will be careful to focus not just on price, but on quality of service as a means of securing customer loyalty.

Energy companies need to look carefully at what type of experience customers expect, and whether they are equipped to deliver it. Factors such as speed of response, knowledgeable staff, and consistent, seamless messaging can all offer energy companies the opportunity to establish points of differentiation in the race for both consumers and commercial customers.

IFS applications directly support the development and optimisation of this type of standout customer experience. From human capital management through to customer fault logging, the entire process of service engagement management can be handled on a single platform. These are the building blocks for rapid, consistent service, happier customers and a stronger brand reputation.

3. Ensuring maximum return on technological investments

When market conditions are uncertain, businesses are more likely to think twice about major investments. Against this however, there is a desire on the part of energy companies to boost visibility across their organisations and to ensure they can respond with agility in the face of rapidly changing conditions. As such, despite – or perhaps more accurately, because of – a difficult economy, as many as 60% of businesses plan to increase investments in digital transformation this year.

Businesses are keen to upgrade their capabilities. But with budgets under strain, there is little room for expensive mistakes, and business leaders need to think very carefully about how and where to focus their investments.

Managers responsible for procurement and implementation on major software initiatives need to look very carefully not just at their choice of solutions, but also their choice of vendor. If it is a purely transactional relationship with the vendor attempting to shoehorn the business into a one-size-fits-all solution, the chances of failure are high. By contrast, IFS solutions have been devised and optimised with the needs of the energy sector squarely in mind. This sector-specific expertise helps ensure a genuine strategic partnership, complete with a carefully considered plan for prioritising projects, aligned to the organisation’s goals. This is precisely what companies require to maximise the prospects of success.

4. Helping create more agile businesses

The energy companies most likely to prosper over the coming years will be the ones who can respond with agility to shifting conditions and pre-empt customer demand and expectations. This includes the ability to spot trends in usage demand and behaviour, equipping suppliers with the intel to hone their service offerings accordingly.

IFS applications enable companies to manage and analyse all data relating to customers in a single location. Alongside tools to streamline service management, IFS also offers integrated customer experience management (CXM) software solutions to capture feedback data from customers. Utilising this intel, companies can get a better handle on what is and what isn’t working and focus on service improvements that are in line with customer needs.

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As a premier IFS Managed Service Provider, Millennium Consulting is ideally placed to support energy companies as they seek to transform their operating models to meet the challenges ahead.

To discover what’s possible through the IFS platform reach out to Philip Keet, IFS Customer Services Director via email or LinkedIn.

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