Plymouth Rock Puts Energy Into a New IT PlatformBy Samuel Greengard | Posted 2014-09-30 Email Print
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The energy provider built a new IT platform to increase bill accuracy, manage customers and accounts more effectively, and improve the way it works with brokers.
In today's high-octane business environment, the ability to manage and share data often determines whether an enterprise soars or stumbles. However, integrating legacy systems—and connecting them to more modern tools and technologies—can prove daunting.
At Plymouth Rock Energy (PRE), a leading independent provider of energy in the Northeast United States, growing pressure to operate faster and better forced the company to completely revamp its IT systems.
"In recent years, we achieved significant growth in both our customer base and the volume of resources we handle," says CIO Jonathan Adlerstein. "It had become difficult to manage customer information and a variety of other data within legacy systems."
In fact, the privately run firm—which sells electricity, natural gas and heating oil to residential, small business and commercial/industrial customers—found itself sinking under the weight of Excel spreadsheets and an Access database.
The situation made it increasingly difficult to handle essential tasks, from managing customer interactions to conducting audits. Adlerstein says it had gotten to the point that the inefficiencies were threatening to undermine the firm's performance. "We required a more flexible and reliable IT framework," he explains.
Unfortunately, major ERP vendors weren't an option. "Those vendors did not offer products tailor-made for our industry," he says. In addition, most industry-specific software did not match the firm's needs.
The company's management understood that it needed to engineer a solution from the ground up and address a number of factors and criteria that spanned numerous areas, including general ledger, billing, customer service and CRM. As a result, PRE turned to consulting and integration services firm Bluewolf to design and build a solution that could power the business into the future.
PRE launched the initiative at the beginning of 2012. "We locked ourselves in a room for several weeks until we came up with a blueprint," Adlerstein recalls. The company went live with the new platform in August of the same year.
Designing the platform wasn't the most difficult task, however. "The migration created a great deal of complexity," Adlerstein explains. "We had a number of unique challenges related to connecting Salesfore.com and Force.com. That included handling large volumes of data not typically associated with the cloud CRM tools.
"Our data sets made it very difficult to work with the platforms, which are geared more for speed. We had to work with Bluewolf to navigate around the governor limits and fully understand how best to work within the platform. The process required some out-of-the-box thinking and a good deal of dialog with a Salesforce rep."
The effort paid off. The company's annual revenues grew 1750 percent, and the number of employees increased from seven to 75. Moreover, PRE has increased the accuracy of bills, while managing customers and accounts more effectively, and improving the way it works with brokers to procure energy resources.
"We have a more flexible and extensible system that allows us to plug in additional technology solutions more easily," Adlerstein concludes. "We have areas of the business we hope to develop, and we now have the technology platform to support everything."