6.1.5 Case study

ENERGEX is one of the Australia’s electricity, natural gas and LPG retailers. It is leveraging its experience and expertise to develop and deliver innovative energy solutions to a market place that is undergoing significant change.  Energex's customer base consists of more than a million commercial and domestic consumers. The company is committed to offering a broad range of energy options and is positioning itself as an innovative multi-fuel retailer. This strategy has put significant focus on its product development capabilities.  ENERGEX products today include domestic and commercial electricity, natural gas and LPG supply.  
“Typical of the innovative, high value-added new products is EMP the company’s energy monitoring program,” says Roman Meister, ENERGEX Retail Marketing Manager. “EMP packages hardware and software into one product which monitors all energy inputs and costs, providing instant access to information on energy usage, power quality, billing verification, on-charging and greenhouse gas emissions. Managers can have access to volumes of data but still lack quality information about one of their most critical operating costs – their energy consumption levels. EMP changes this situation”.
ENERGEX responded to the challenge of deregulation by creating ENERGEX Retail, a fast-moving market-focused corporation that concentrates on developing and marketing energy-based products to commercial and residential customers. It recruited some of the best people in the industry so that it could act swiftly to meet the changing needs of the evolving energy market.

The ChallengeThis team needed a product development process that would help them manage critical risk without slowing them down. According to a business consultant who helped ENERGEX, “We were initially surprised by the call from ENERGEX - energy retailing is a long way from our usual customers in manufacturing”. After initial discussions, the product development environment at ENERGEX was reviewed. This involved structured interviews with both the users and “customers” of the current product development process. A review or “audit” of the existing environment is always a critical starting point for any product development process. Any issues can be brought to light and the existing process elements can be captured and related to the organisation’s objectives.
According to the business consultant the results of the ENERGEX Retail review were positive. “We found high-energy teams passionate about their industry, their business and the need to move at lightning speed in a fast-paced industry. We also found product development processes that had much in common with those of our traditional customers. While much of the existing process was very thorough, it had two significant characteristics. Firstly there was a mismatch with the fast-moving culture of ENERGEX, and secondly there were inefficient mechanisms for filtering and prioritising projects and allocating precious resources.”
In addition, Product Managers and the Product Development Manager were dissatisfied with the quality of “pre-development homework” and wanted improvements in the quality of product definition and specification before committing to development of new products.1


1 InnoSupport: Supporting Innovations in SME. 6.1 New product development methods, 2005