‘The software changes have been complex,’ says Allison Morris of ESB


ESB began scoping in preparation for the new payments system in mid-2012, with the formal SEPA Programme commencing in November of that year. “We identified five SEPA migration projects to be delivered, each with different project timelines, focusing on different ESB business areas and covering both SEPA direct-debit and credit-transfer migrations,” says ESB’s SEPA project manager Allison Morris.

Three SEPA migration projects have been completed successfully: credit transfer of payments to ESB’s suppliers; direct debit payments from Electric Ireland customers; and migration of ESB’s internal health-insurance provider Medical Provident Fund to direct debit and credit transfer payments.

“It was important for ESB to be prepared in advance of the February 2014 deadline as we have significant volumes of bulk payments being processed electronically every day.”Morris says. “At Electric Ireland we have over 300,000 direct debit transactions per month processing electronically .”

The project required significant changes in a number of areas. “There are few important aspects to becoming SEPA ready; changes to payment dates, update of the bulk payment files to SEPA XML format, and the conversion of stored bank details into the correct format – BIC and IBAN. These changes impact on both business processes and IT systems. The direct debit scheme involves significant changes to the existing scheme and so the business impact and software changes were greater for this aspect of SEPA.”

Extensive changes were required to implement the new direct-debit mandate management rules, and a number of challenges had to be overcome. “The software changes have been complex and we’ve had IT resources with many different areas of expertise involved. Similarly, on the business side, processes have had to be reviewed and updated, and a lot of training on the new SEPA rules was required within Electric Ireland,” says Morris.

“It has been a complex project, but with three successful migrations behind us, we are ready to move forward with our target of having our ESB SEPA programme successfully completed before the end of 2013.”