By the fall of 2006, Bord Gáis started the implementation.
The Oracle Utilities customer care and billing solution was
being installed, database schemes were being built to match
Bord Gáis’ billing processes to the technology, and Bord Gáis’
development team was feverishly building customizations.
The initial plan was to have the new Oracle system up and
running by November 2007.
But by November 2007, it was becoming clear that the
project was off to a false start. According to Bunworth, the
company’s customer billing database simply wasn’t clean
enough to ensure a good installation, and there were quality
issues with the software.
Bord Gáis management made the difficult decision to
halt the project completely and begin again with a rebuilt
database. It would delay the project several months, yet it
turned out to be exactly the right move (see sidebar, “When
to Restart an IT Project”).
In February 2008, Bord Gáis executives signed off on a clean,
stable billing system that was ready to be built upon. Over the
following nine months, the project team focused its efforts on
another 20 to 30 customizations that were needed—some still
in design, others in development, and a handful in testing. Most
of the development was completed by August 2008, with the
remaining months devoted to acceptance processes.
The deployment of the Oracle Utilities customer care and
billing solution went live in November 2008 with Bord Gáis’
residential gas customers, who were moved into the new system
in batches until all 650,000 customers had been migrated.
Over the ensuing three months, the project team worked
feverishly again to ensure that the system’s electricity billing
functionality was ready to take on new customers. In February
2009, Bord Gáis entered the deregulated residential electricity
market, marking the beginning of what the company states has
been the most successful utility switching campaign in history.
It started small, as the company tested the system by establishing its 1,100 employees as the first electricity customers.
With that success, Bord Gáis started marketing to existing gas
customers, promoting a process that would allow them to switch
from their existing electricity provider in a few clicks online.
The program was then extended to new customers.
Cunningham says management expected to add 80,000 elec-
tricity customers in the first year but reached that number in
less than six weeks. “From an IT perspective, we weren’t antici-
pating these numbers,” says Cunningham. “We had to ramp up
really quickly, both in IT and in the business, to deal with the
volumes of customers that we were taking on.”
All told, Bord Gáis has now accumulated some 425,000