EDP Improves Control Over €6 Billion Mission Critical Financial Services Operation by Modernizing Payment Collection System

Energias de Portugal (EDP), the principal shareholder of EDP Renewables North America, wanted to modernize its outdated payments collection software without affecting its financial operations. Using OutSystems, EDP built a brand new core system from scratch adapted to its business needs. The result? More control over the operations, fewer errors, and better customer experience.

 

6 billion euros processed

55 million transactions

200 collection agents

0 operational interruptions

The Rise of the Digital World and the New Demanding Customers

Challenge - Over the past 42 years, EDP has been bringing electricity and gas to homes across the world. As the world’s fourth-largest wind energy producer and one of the major energy operators in Europe, EDP deals with an average of 55 million transactions every year, the equivalent to 6 billion euros. In other words, there was no room for error.

However, the majority of these transactions was processed through a legacy collection system that connected the several collection apps from different business units in EDP. And as the years went by, this system was becoming outdated.

Before, banking transfers, checks, ATMs, and credit were the primary methods of payment, but now, with the emergence of new technologies, customers wanted to be able to pay online and through their smartphones.

But adding new payment methods to the old collection app wasn’t an easy process. The system didn’t allow the agility required to do it quickly, consuming too much time and resources. In addition to that, the old application didn’t grant much control over financial operations. So, whenever there was a problem with a payment, for example, EDP only found out after complaints from the customers, leading to poor customer experience. It was time for a transformation.

Given the size and volume of operations EDP has to deal with daily, revamping this core system was a delicate process. On the one hand, it needed to be done fast as time-to-market was an essential requirement. On the other, there was a considerable risk that if something wasn’t implemented properly, it could cost the company a lot of money and even impact the customer experience.

Building a New Collection App From Scratch

Solution - The new system had to fulfill a few requirements:

  • Decrease the time-to-market of new functionalities. With all the new possibilities of payment, EDP wanted to have the freedom and agility to add new features easily and accelerate their implementation.
  • Increase control. As a leading company, EDP wanted to have a more preventive approach opposed to the reactive one that their previous lack of control allowed. For that reason, the new app should give EDP the power to capture and solve problems before they impact its customers.
  • Improve the user experience. EDP has over 200 agents spread across the country to perform collections, and they were used to an old, difficult-to-use app. The new version needed to offer a friendly UX to simplify the adoption and the overall usage of the system.

EDP started by looking for an off-the-shelf solution that fulfilled those characteristics, but when it didn’t find it, the company decided to build it from scratch.

The flexibility OutSystems provided to build a modular app and its ability to integrate with the several systems within EDP made the low-code platform the perfect partner for this transformation. By using OutSystems, the company’s IT team embraced an agile methodology and replaced the old collection system without impacting any part of the business, while uniformizing and centralizing all payment collections.

Introducing Collect

Collect is a smart application that integrates with several other business apps, including SAP, Oracle, and the systems of several EDP business units. The Collect app manages all the payment channels that come from these apps and systems. Collect is also connected to the banking institutions to process the payments.

This is how it works: a customer goes to an ATM to pay the electricity bill, using the reference provided by EDP. Collect manages the whole process from receiving the payment information from the ATM to communicating it to the entire organization.

The new system allowed EDP to automate this entire process that had to be done manually before, leading to errors. Now, any problem in the circuit can be detected, and its users can act preventively. In addition, the payments are now running in real-time when, in the past, it took several days until EDP systems received the notification that a payment had been made.

Better User Experience and More Control Equals Happier Customers

Results - At the moment, about 80 percent of EDP collections are done using Collect. In just a few weeks of use, the new application allowed EDP to detect a few errors that, if they hadn’t been discovered in time, would have impacted a vast number of customers.

With a friendly user interface, Collect’s higher level of control has led to an improvement of EDP customers’ experience. For example, collaborators in the call center have immediate access to each customer file, including the status of payments in real-time. This has led to a decrease in the number of complaints.

As from the back-end team perspective, they have higher control over the app. Before repeated and duplicated information had to be dealt with manually, now Collect detects it automatically.

OutSystems was also crucial to support the development and evolution of the project using an agile approach. Business and IT teams work closely to adapt to the company’s needs faster. In fact, developing and implementing customizations now takes only half the time when compared to before.

Marcelo Reis
"It was impressive how the team was able to put Collect online without any commercial interruption. The robustness and control that the new app gave to operations led to a new confidence in the process. Now, people trust the system."Marcelo Reis, EDP Commercial Director
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