02/04/2009 - 13:20

Synergy restructure to save $75m

02/04/2009 - 13:20

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Energy retailer Synergy has announced a business restructuring that involves partnering with local IT firm Alphawest, call centre operator Stellar and an unnamed global IT partner to create $75 million in cost savings and benefits over five years.

Synergy restructure to save $75m

Energy retailer Synergy has announced a business restructuring that involves partnering with local IT firm Alphawest, call centre operator Stellar and an unnamed global IT partner to create $75 million in cost savings and benefits over five years.

The company today released a five-point plan that it said will protect local jobs and support industry. It comes as speculation heightened yesterday that 120 Synergy jobs will be outsourced to India.

The plan ensures Synergy can implement a new customer care and billing sytem, which is said will deliver significant benefits to customers.

Synergy managing director Jim Mitchell said the transformation comes at a time of significant tariff increases.

"Our vision has been to develop a world class energy retailer, meeting the needs and expectations of our customers, and we're on track to do that," he said.

"Tariffs are increasing, and Synergy is acutely aware of its obligation to be the most efficient business it can be.

"Every additional dollar it costs Synergy to run its business is a cost borne by our customers."

Under the five-point plan, an extra 31 jobs will be created in the short-term after appointing Stellar as its contact centre service provider.

Synergy stressed that all calls will be answered in Western Australia.

Meantime, Alphawest will support Synergy's data centra and IT services for five years, assuring around 15 local jobs.

The unnamed global partner will provide IT service and back office knowledge from their WA office while workers are trained and the new system is implemented.

Synergy will also invest $2 million in training its employees, which will be provided by local companies.

 

 

 

Synergy's statement is below:

Transforming Synergy

The Synergy Board today endorsed a plan by Synergy to transform its business to deliver a new, world class customer care and billing system, which will deliver significant benefits to customers. The plan, which has always included the retention of IT, contact centre and back office functionality at Synergy, will support local jobs and industry, and see no permanent jobs outsourced overseas.

Synergy Managing Director, Jim Mitchell, said Synergy's transformation would create in excess
of $75m in benefits and cost savings over five years, at a time of significant tariff increases.

"Our vision has been to develop a world class energy retailer, meeting the needs and expectations of our customers, and we're on track to do that."

Mr Mitchell said Synergy was implementing world class customer care and billing systems which include:

- Direct debit, bill smoothing, and more choices for customers in how they interact with Synergy;

- The ability to save energy by providing energy efficient products such as advanced meters and solar solutions.

"Tariffs are increasing, and Synergy is acutely aware of its obligation to be the most efficient business it can be. Every additional dollar it costs Synergy to run its business is a cost borne by our customers."

Mr Mitchell said the business had previously and regularly communicated with employees that it would need to engage with partners to support its transformation.

"There has been speculation recently about job losses. We have made it clear to our employees, and publicly, the speculation far exceeded anything we have been considering. Today's announcement puts that speculation to rest.

"In doing this, we are also supporting local industry and we are supporting local jobs."

"Every decision we make and have made has been in the interests of our customers, our employees and the state."

Below: Synergy's five point plan to support WA jobs, local industry.

To complement our own IT, contact centre and back office teams, the following initiatives will
be put in place:

1. Synergy has selected Stellar (Joondalup) to provide contact centre capability while it trains staff on Synergy's new customer care and billing system. This will create an additional 31 jobs in the short term for Stellar and Western Australia. All calls to Synergy will be answered in Western Australia.

2. Synergy will engage Stellar to provide selected contact centre services on an ongoing basis keeping these jobs in Western Australia for the long term. Stellar has the ability to leverage its customer relationship with Synergy, and in the scale it is creating, to source new relationships, and potentially create new employment opportunities. Synergy will act as a key reference site for Stellar as it seeks out these new business opportunities.

3. Synergy has chosen a local IT service partner Alphawest to support its data centre and IT services for five years, and is building a new IT network. Synergy understands this will assure approximately 15 local jobs.

4. Synergy will work with a global service provider to establish a presence in Western Australia. This partner will provide IT skills and back office expertise from their West Australian office. In the short term they will provide the back office processing support while our people are trained, and to help us through the period immediately after
system implementation.

5. Synergy will invest $2 million training its employees to acquire new skills, demonstrating Synergy's commitment to maintaining a local, skilled workforce. This training will be provided by local companies.

 

The Minister's announcement is below:

 

Energy Minister Peter Collier today announced a plan developed with energy retailer Synergy to ensure no permanent jobs from Western Australia would be sent overseas, as part of Synergy's business transformation program.

Mr Collier said he had worked with Synergy to develop the five-point plan to protect local jobs and support local industry.

"I am pleased that we have been able to work co-operatively and collaboratively with Synergy to ensure a tremendous outcome for the WA workforce," he said.

"I am pleased Synergy's chairman and managing director have taken my concerns over this matter on board and we have been able to work together to ensure no permanent jobs will go overseas."

The plan ensures Synergy can implement a new, world-class customer care and billing system, which delivers new and better products and services for the State's energy users. It would also establish a new IT centre of excellence in WA.

The Minister said Synergy had secured the establishment of a local presence by a global partner to develop new and innovative IT skills and back office expertise in WA, which was not previously available, and would provide a strong IT presence in Perth.

"This will result in a new local office and capability being set up and grown in WA, which will in time create more local jobs as this partner grows its business and provides its services to other companies," he said.

"We have worked hard to keep jobs in WA, support local industry and establish a new industry which brings new skills and knowledge to this State.

"It has taken some time, but I am delighted this has been achieved, in order to deliver a world-class customer care and billing system which will provide benefits for customers, as well as the State.

"We were able to resolve this matter despite the Opposition being irresponsible in misrepresenting this issue for base political motives."

Mr Collier said Synergy's plan would achieve cost savings and benefits worth $75 million during the next five years, which would have a positive impact on customers' electricity bills at a time of rising electricity tariffs.

"In addition, Synergy is partnering with local businesses, which is supporting employment in other industries," he said.

"They have selected Stellar in Joondalup to provide back-up Contact Centre support, as well as ongoing services which means anyone calling Synergy will be answered by a Western Australian.

"Synergy's commitment to utilising local services is also highlighted by the selection of WA-based IT services provider Alphawest to support Synergy's data centre and IT services."

The Minister also welcomed Synergy's proposed investment of $2million in training which will be delivered locally to its employees in the next nine months.

"Synergy is to be applauded for working to deliver a solution which supports local jobs and local industry. At the same time, it will deliver efficiencies and savings to its business and improve customer service," he said.

 

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