Traditionally many companies think that throwing more employees to manage complex energy bills will fix the pain experienced, but this is no longer the most 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 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 really should make sure the switch has happened ok, that your new rates reflect what you signed up for and applied correctly and make sure 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 has got the right number of billed days right. 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?
And to further the complexity you can 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 empathize with the employees that are responsible for managing the energy category.
How can an army of digital bots (our 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 that the humble home electricity bill, large organizations bills add up to tens or even hundreds of millions in outgoings each year and getting this 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) can occur causing business disruption and lack of confidence in responsible staff members/ areas.
What are the automated alternatives to outdated manual Energy Management approaches?
Let’s first demystify automated Robotic Process Automation platforms. How does the process all work?
- The onboarding process
The RPA platform requires 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 – our clever RPA platform does the rest:
2. Bill Collection
It automatically collects bills from retailer portals, receives them via email or EDI, or even access them via a mailbox and a scanning service.
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 get them fixed
- And ensures that data is cleansed, reliable and trustworthy
5. Continuous learning – the RPA Platform can get smarter
The exception management bots are our 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, etc
- and you will be forced to pay for an army of very expensive human workers all doing their best with error-prone spreadsheets and large data sets.