npower consolidates billing and customer service systems


Peterlee, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — June 20, 2008 – npower, one of the U.K.’s largest electricity suppliers, has been using a document management and archiving system from Macro 4 to support its Core Consolidation Programme, a strategy to rationalize the energy company’s billing and customer service operations onto one centralized platform.

Macro 4’s Columbus document management software has helped npower to archive and maintain availability of key legacy billing data from five million customers, allowing the records to be accessible along with current customer information via the company’s centralized strategic billing and customer service system called CIB (Customer Information and Billing).

The legacy information was originally located on disparate billing systems at a variety of separate geographical sites as a result of previous mergers and acquisitions at npower, which today comprises the former electricity and gas supply businesses of MEB, Calortex, Yorkshire Electricity and Northern Electric and Gas.

“We were operating four core billing systems at different locations, each producing millions of customer documents a year, as well as around 12 smaller systems. Maintaining all of the separate systems demanded significant IT and administrative effort,” explained Trevor Abbott, Senior Support Analyst at npower.

“We knew that decommissioning these systems and consolidating the billing infrastructure would increase efficiency and help us to deliver a consistently high standard of service to all of our customers. One of the challenges of consolidation was finding a simple way to retain the information held on our original systems and keep it easily accessible.

“Billing systems contain a wealth of useful information in addition to billing data – including meter readings, customer histories, correspondence and customer service notes, which is essential for customer relationship management. We are also legally obliged to hold on to much of this data for many years.”

npower wanted to avoid migrating all of the legacy data onto its new central billing system, which would have been complex and time-consuming. Instead, it opted for the Macro 4 archiving solution, which would provide the capacity to store seven years of historical data for the five million customers being migrated. Columbus met npower’s requirements in terms of being easy to implement, yet able to cope with the individual data formats produced by the different systems.

Once extracted into Columbus, the data is compressed, enabling billions of records to be stored cost-effectively on a single server. The information can then be accessed quickly over npower’s network, within any number of business applications, including the CIB system and can be converted automatically into a range of compatible viewing formats. npower now intends to use Columbus as the online archive for historical data from the current CIB billing system, enabling system performance to be maintained as customer numbers and data volumes increase.