Throwing more employees at the task of managing complex energy bills is not a cost-effective, accurate, and efficient way to manage the energy portfolio.
If you are a multisite business, not leveraging the benefits of Robotic Process Automation and its digital workforce to reduce errors, improve data quality, reduce overpayments and unwanted disconnections, you need to understand what it’s all about.
How hard can it really be to pay an energy bill?
Let’s start with a residential electricity bill. It is not that hard right; you just get the bill sent to you and pay the amount due by credit card – no questions asked and away you go.
But did you bother to really check it?
Probably not, it looked about right, similar to what you normally pay, the address was right, so you paid it.
If you recently switched to a new supplier you should ensure the switch occurred, that your new rates reflect what you signed up for and have been applied correctly, and that the old supplier has switched you off.
But you may be unsure how to check if the rates/discounts are correct and if the old supplier billed you for the right number of days. When the bill is wrong, it can be difficult dealing with the energy retailer to get it resolved. Many residential customers can (and do) live with small errors on their bills, but…
Imagine the pain incurred when this is a few hundred, a few thousand, or even tens of thousands of bills across different locations
To add to the complexity you might even have the bills spread over 5-10 different suppliers (or in the US, hundreds, or even thousands of suppliers). It’s not hard to sympathize with the employees who are responsible for managing this kind of energy spend.
How can an army of digital workers (the RPA platform) ease the pain for these multisite clients?
There is a lot of pain, complexity, and time involved to manage bills for a big organization with thousands of sites. There is far more at stake than the humble home electricity bill.
The utility bills of large organizations can often add up to tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in outgoings each year. Getting this aspect of a business right could be the difference between success and failure. If a single bill is not paid, the company can get hit with late payment fees and at times disconnection of critical sites (retail outlets, bank, or key telco equipment). This can result in business disruption and a lack of confidence in responsible staff members/areas.
Let’s first demystify automated Robotic Process Automation platforms. How does the process all work?
1. The onboarding process
The RPA platform offers an easy onboarding process to establish the basics, by exploring where all the sites are and who the energy retailers and the billing cycle for each responsible site.
Then you are able to sit back and relax –clever RPA platform’s like Bid’s Utility Bill Management does the rest:
2. Bill collection
The digital workers automatically collect utility bills from retailer portals or they are received via email or EDI, and at times bills are sent via a mailbox and are scanned in.
3. Validating the information on the bill
Once all the bills are collected, the platform starts the automatic validation process by checking:
- all bills to ensure none have gone missing
- the right retailer is billing the right meter number
- there are no duplicate bills or bills on closed/ disconnected sites
- that consumption amounts match the meter data feeds
- all rates charged match the contracted amounts
- the trades, if the company is buying on the flexible market
Did you know our records show that approximately 10% of all bills we manage have some sort of issue that needs to be resolved?
4. Issues resolution
Once again, the RPA platform does the heavy lifting in issues resolution by:
- managing these billing exceptions and getting them fixed
- ensuring that data is cleansed, reliable, and trustworthy
5. Continuous learning – the RPA platform can get smarter
The exception management bots are the smartest digital workers, they are capable of learning and change their approach over time by observing patterns of data (called Machine Learning).
6. Consolidation and Accounts Payable
The RPA platform’s job is to then consolidate all the bills relevant to each supplier, that are due to be paid and create a single consolidated payment file for that supplier with all the company’s accounts payable and general ledger coding is done i.e. cost coding, vendor coding, etc assigned correctly.
The payment file is configured to be pushed straight into the company’s payment system (SAP, Oracle, JD Edwards, Microsoft Dynamics, etc).
And the super-efficient nature of the RPA capability means that all the processes described above for thousands of bills can be achieved in hours, not days (like our competitors who use manual workers)
All multisite organizations need to consider RPA to manage and pay energy bills.
Organizations trying to achieve this with manual or semi-manual workers will incur:
- an increased number of data issues
- significantly slower processing times especially when disruptions occur to your employees with illness, holidays, and etc.
- pay for a team of very expensive human workers all doing their best with error-prone spreadsheets and large data sets.
Looking to increase control of your utility data? Found out how to successfully manage your utility data in 8 easy steps.