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CASE STUDY

Customer focus, efficiency and process transparency with iGrafx

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The energy market is becoming ever more complex. Alongside meeting the full range of traditional customer demand for water and energy, companies must now also offer numerous accompanying services and develop innovative projects that deal with environmental protection and the energy revolution. And don’t forget: Even if service companies handle a wide range of different services, customers still expect their providers to keep track of every detail at all times.

The only way this works is if the background processes are transparent, which means they must be presented in a standardised way. This was the main challenge that badenova was facing in 2015. The company is the largest energy and environmental service provider in South Baden and has more than 1,300 employees. Its core competencies are distributing energy, gas, water and heat, operating the necessary networks and facilities and providing a wide range of advisory services on topics from renewable energies and energy efficiency to tailored municipal climate protection concepts. In 2014, faced with increasing complexity in their business and rising customer expectations, the decision was made on the part of the shareholders, 96 municipalities between the High Rhine and the Northern Black Forest and the executive management to restructure badenova.

Reorganisation and business areas

Since 1 January 2015, badenova has had separate business areas for its sales activities and for its technical infrastructure, i.e. the operation of electricity, gas and water networks. They also have a separate business area for heat production and distribution, which deals with developing, planning, constructing and operating facilities as well as producing renewable energies. E-MAKS works with badenova as a full-service provider for all billing and energy data management.

One of the goals of restructuring the company is to develop a standardised system for visualising processes. This is intended to make all operations transparent and provide a standardised, company-wide groundwork for process management. The business processes in the individual business areas had grown over the course of years and were documented in very different ways and with different tools. “But customers are right in expecting that we take a holistic approach to all of their requirements and expectations and that they be able to deal with us as a unified legal entity end-to-end, across all business areas,” says Oliver Losch, Process Manager at bnNETZE.

Existing experience as the groundwork

E-MAKS already had several years of experience with using iGrafx FlowCharter and iGrafx Process Central to visualise its processes, and this became the groundwork for creating a new standardised framework. The primary concern was to visualise all company processes in a standardised way on a single platform. In addition, badenova wanted to be able to model and handle processes in a business-area-specific way that would still allow them to do comparable cross-business-area visualisations in order to map the entire process chain. They also wanted the user experience to be as simple and intuitive as possible.

One primary goal was to start visualising all processes according to internationally recognised standards. This is important for ensuring that new employees can quickly learn the process landscape. It also significantly simplifies communications with suppliers and with certification authorities whose auditors review the quality of company processes. badenova has an ISO-certified environmental and energy management system; E-MAKS’s quality management system is also ISO-certified.

For the new process visualisation, badenova decided to use BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation), an internationally recognised standard that is supported by iGrafx. A further plus for iGrafx came in dealing with the need to extend the existing license model throughout the entire company. It was important to badenova’s process managers that they have a good and transparent way to visualise all areas of responsibility – i.e. who in the workflow is responsible for reviewing, approving and verifying new processes. iGrafx provided a way to easily meet this requirement as well.

Decision for iGrafx

“After we balanced our requirements with the potential solutions, it quickly became clear that we wanted to start working with iGrafx to make our processes transparent” says Project Manager Oliver Losch. Other arguments in favour of iGrafx included the simple form of modelling and the intuitive way of recording results. Then things started moving quickly: Three video conferences with the product managers at iGrafx were held to discuss the implementation in detail. Then, the iGrafx platform as well as the modelling and simulation tools FlowCharter and Process were installed and individual templates were created. Shortly thereafter, four process managers and several modellers at badenova took part in two one-day workshops to learn about integrating processes into iGrafx and to clear up any remaining questions.

There were just two months between the implementation and the system go-live. After concepts for all necessary structures had been developed, it was just a small step to visualise them in iGrafx, which meant that badenova very quickly had a groundwork for modelling its processes. In parallel to this work, a convention handbook was created to define the standardised rules that apply to all business areas. iGrafx provided comprehensive support during this period, according to Anja Snella, Process Manager at badenovaWÄRMEPLUS. “The workshops during that period were targeted and specific to our company and our needs. This made it possible for us to learn very quickly.“

iGrafx web-based platform

Since spring 2016, all business areas at badenova have been using iGrafx Origins, a standardised system for modelling and simulating business processes. The fact that the web-based platform is integrated into the company’s intranet makes using the system very convenient. According to their approval areas, users can trace the processes with just a mouse click. For instance, it is possible to display all processes that are relevant to daily business for each respective employee. It is also possible to link all sub-processes and navigate between multiple individual processes.

Around 600 processes have now been documented at badenova according to BPMN, providing transparency that extends to all business areas. And further goals have already been defined, says Ewald Teuber: “Next we want to develop the end-to-end view of our customer relationships and, of course, ultimately we want include all core and subprocesses.” Anja Snella continues: “It’s important that we include the employees so that they can actively exploit the advantages of our process management – for their daily work and for communicating with our customers.” With the new standardised process platform, badenova now has an ideal way to inspire customers with excellent processes and to act with agility and flexibly in the dynamic market environment.

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