Connexus Energy (CE), Minnesota’s largest electric cooperative, provides electricity and related products and services to homes and businesses in portions of 7 counties. Based in Ramsey, Connexus Energy serves over 128,000 members and has 250 employees. In 2014, Connexus Energy’s total electric revenue was $254 million. Energy sales were consistent at 2.3 billion kilowatt hours from the previous year.
For the longest time, CE was using IBM’s Maximo 4.11 for its Work and Asset Management functionality. Over time, CE heavily customized the application directly into the code, which met short term challenges, but proved to cause significant upgrade issues.
Brian Lambertz, Business Analyst with Connexus Energy, comments, “We had so heavily customized Maximo that we were no longer able to do a simple upgrade to the version we were using. Maximo was running on an Oracle platform, which was no longer supported, and Maximo 4.11 was no longer supported as well. Maximo was also running on old hardware that needed to be upgraded.”
Lambertz says, in short, Connexus could no longer support the cost of ownership that Maximo, Oracle and the hardware demanded.
One of the biggest challenges CE faced was finding the right solution provider to help them wade through the deep waters of challenge that lay ahead. Lambertz notes, “It was indeed a challenge as we are an electric cooperative that pre-capitalizes some of our equipment before it is used. We were searching for a solution that would combine Work Management, Asset Management and Inventory.”
CE buckled down and distributed their Request for Proposal to seven different and well-qualified vendors. After a stringent selection process, CE narrowed their decision down to two vendors for software demonstrations and deeper exploration. What gave Cogsdale an upper leg at this point in the competition was the fact that they were one of the few vendors that offered an Asset Management solution.
Rather than continue on a merry-go-round of expense, and belaboring functionality issues further, CE gave the contract to Cogsdale for a number of compelling reasons. For example, Cogsdale’s solution resides on a Microsoft (SQL) platform, which is less expensive and operates on less expensive hardware. Lambertz explains, “Cogsdale’s solution, coupled with Microsoft Dynamics GP as a financial solution, is significantly less cost to own than our old Maximo and Lawson solutions.” He says working closely with Cogsdale also brought additional integrated functionality into CE’s solutions.
By moving to Cogsdale and Dynamics GP, CE was able to decommission three Oracle software applications: 1) Lawson’s accounting package 2) Powerplant’s construction capitalization process, and 3) Maximo’s Work and Asset Management application. The move also provided CE with access to a full Microsoft environment for IT staff to manage. Lambertz comments, “We are now off the expensive Oracle hardware and application support contracts and on to more reasonable Microsoft contracts. This will represent long-term cost savings for our company, and is a model that could be repeated by other companies facing increased hardware and software maintenance costs.”
Because Cogsdale’s solution is coupled tightly with Microsoft Dynamics GP, CE now had one integrated system for all of its Accounting, Work and Asset Management, and supply chain needs. Lambertz notes, “Prior to Cogsdale and Dynamics GP, we needed three separate Oracle applications to accomplish this work. The Construction Management module was built in a way that puts all of the pertinent information about a construction project right in front of the user—making it a very user-friendly module, and easy to obtain pertinent, relevant information for workers and managers.” Lambertz says as a result, supply chain has been able to maintain appropriate inventory levels and process transactions smoothly in the system.
According to Lambertz, CE users of Cogsdale’s solution have had many positive comments since the solution went live. “The users are impressed that Cogsdale responds to our issues and needs,” he says, “by regularly meeting with us to discuss business challenges. They continually find opportunities to help us improve the business process and software to make work more effective and efficient.”
After several new release installations, Lambertz has heard users comment “We can tell that Cogsdale listens to our needs, the new release does exactly what we need it to and makes our jobs easier!”
Lambertz says it’s encouraging when the staff at Cogsdale always go above and beyond. “From the professional implementation team who helped us learn about the software and build solutions, to the aftercare teams who continue to support us as we move forward…everyone who we have encountered at Cogsdale has been courteous, professional, and truly a pleasure to work with.”
Dragan Karanovic, Work Management Product Lead with Cogsdale, says, “Working with Connexus has been a tremendous opportunity to learn and improve our product. We’ve reached some fantastic grounds enhancing our Capital Work solution (Construction Management) and today we have a robust, flexible, application that meets the most demanding Work and Asset Management requirements on the market.” Karanovic says Cogsdale is a very strong competitor, and has strengthened both its learning and implementation experience while working with Connexus.