“I’ve worked with a lot of utilities,” explained Jerry Cavalieri, CEO of consulting firm HPC America, “and it’s rare to have as many branches as the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) has.” The nonprofit entity serves 50,000 customers across the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation with electric, gas, water, wastewater, telecom, and solar offerings. “The ERP has to serve multiple utilities, each with different requirements from billing to work management,” Cavalieri said. “The NTUA has managed that complexity with a relatively small staff for years.”
Despite the NTUA’s good track record of doing more with less, its small staff and lack of defined workflows were creating challenges for its customers. “Calls were being bounced from district office to district office,” said Gerard Curley, deputy chief financial officer of NTUA. “If one person didn’t answer a call, it would go to another person. We would get complaints like, ‘I was on the line for 20 minutes and no one answered my call,’ or ‘I was transferred to this department, but they weren’t able to answer my questions.’”
Early Customer Cloud Adopter
NTUA had to implement a CRM solution for its call center quickly, but it needed to invest in a system that would also allow for future growth. That’s why the NTUA and HPC America decided to take the leap as an early adopter of SAP C/4HANA in the cloud. “The initial call center was going to be pretty small, maybe 10 people to start, and they didn’t have a CRM to begin with. To get a system up quickly, we looked to the cloud,” Cavalieri said.
Curley determined that NTUA would need better workflows, a centralized call center, and the right customer experience technology. He brought in SAP utilities consultants HPC America to help. “We started working with the NTUA back in the mid-2000s on some of the financial aspects of their ERP,” Cavalieri explained. “We already understood how SAP was operating there, which modules were active, who was using those modules, and what kind of support was in place. We knew the organization and its needs well.”
In the Middle
The team landed on an atypical solution: use SAP middleware to connect SAP C/4HANA on the cloud to NTUA’s existing SAP IS-U implementation. It was a new way of doing things, but it made sense for NTUA’s business structure and budget.
“SAP already controls the back office. Then SAP C/4HANA brings together the work management and front-office aspects so they’re all in one place,” Cavalieri said. “I don’t think there’s any other solution with that level of front-to-back-office integration, so you can fully take advantage of the ERP data that’s out there.”
Curley and Cavalieri described what it was like to be an early adopter of SAP C/4HANA for this project to Ann Marie Gray, VP of content at ASUG.
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