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Myra D. Lopez, Business Consulting Services

Utilty Consulting

One of the only ways for utilities to differentiate themselves in newly competitive retail markets from commodity energy is by providing better customer service especially through their Customer Call Center and Field Operations.

A Customer Information System (CIS) has developed into an economic asset for many companies. The information collected about customers becomes a means for understanding the value of each relationship and a stepping stone for developing services to fit individual customer needs.

Due to Market forces and technology development, a utility may have to continue relaying on its legacy Customer Information System (CIS). The System might possibly have problems calculating accurate bills or sending them out on time. As you know, when mistakes or delays occur, the utility loses timely revenue and credibility with its customers. Both of these negative results impact the bottom line.

An aging CIS can sabotage the relationship between a Customer and a Utility. Inaccurate and incomplete records of customer consumption patterns and demographic characteristics disable the effort of using data mining to discover a customer's service preferences. If a Utility can not use data to determine what a customer is likely to want, it has to guess. These guesses distance existing customers from your business. And potential customers dislike you offering them a product or service they're not interested in.

Hiring the right advisors to help with the selection and implementation of a CIS System influences the success of a project as much as the system's underlying technology.


Your Consultant needs to be familiar with:

  • the Utility business environment
  • CIS Systems currently on the market
  • other company systems in place and
  • they need to know how to transfer business knowledge to the client

Every Utility has unique needs. The Consultant needs to know the needs of the company they are servicing as well as the direction and strategies pursued by the Utility. In essence, they become business partners striving for a common goal.

Your Consultant needs to:

  • Identify and study your processes.
  • Know operational and regulatory restraints.
  • Maintain a disciplined Project Management Methodology.
  • Practice Quality Control.
  • Assist in determining the appropriate Data Model for your company.
  • Assist in selecting the appropriate CIS vendor.
  • Assist in a strategic Implementation Plan.

Together you should define your data sources, develop your information architecture, build and manage your

  • operational
  • transactional and
  • customer behavioral data
  • (ie. customer movement, payment patterns, load management info. etc.)

Your Consultant should be will versed on new generation CIS systems that can effectively manage complex customer data for immediate operational benefit, and still support future oriented analytical strategies.

As a Utility, you should understand the scope of your project up front, map your staff's existing skills, and then choose the firm that best compliments those skills at the best price. Together, you should focus on savings in operational processes, software licensing costs and maintenance expenses.

A good CIS integration consultant should be able to explain how its integration methodologies might affect the utility's day-to-day business processes. If there are to be interruptions, they should be scheduled as to minimally impact daily operations. Care should be taken to reduce any negative financial burden to the company.

Business Intelligence

How does CIS fit into the corporate big picture?

Your Customer Information System is critical to your business intelligence but in reality it is only a piece of the big picture.

Whether the comodity is electricity, gas or water, these activities require attention to the same basic operational components and data collections. The Energy (Utility) Business may require management of:

  1. generation assets
  2. transmission holdings and
  3. distribution processes.

Let's call these activities functions. Together this data transmits into Business Intelligence (BI). Understanding of the impact of the integration of these systems is what makes the Utility business unique from other businesses.


Processes, Methodologies, Architectures and Technologies

Company information is maintained in different architectures and by a variety of technologies. The goal is to enable these architectures and technologies to communicate and share information. Only then can you establish true efficiency in operations and financial reporting.

The bottom financial record determines your comapany's success. In today's environment and with the introduction of Sarbanes=Oxley, this communication has become a necessity.

Before embarking on a initiative, an organization should create a strategic vision for success as well as strategies for implementing that vision, managing the risks, justifying costs and realizing full business benefits.

Systems

A Utility company manages it's business through a number of different systems. The following is a partial list of these systems:

A List of Systems by Name:

  • SCADA means Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
  • GIS means Geographic Information System
  • OMS means Outage Management System
  • CIS means Customer Information System
  • HR means Human Resource Planning
  • AM means Asset Management System
  • SCM means Supply Chain Management
  • WMS means Work Management System

Common elements of each system include: people, equipment, physical locations, communications, and computer operations. These elements result in business expenses. The expenses need to be compared to commodity earnings or units sold to determine real profit. The Corporate picture is incomplete without the proper communication flow between systems.

The purpose of this discussion is to assure you that we understand the overall nature of the utility business. At Myra D. Lopez, Business Consulting Services, we are aware of the special nature of the Utility Industry and would be honored to assist you in enhancing your company success.

To learn more about our services, please browse our site or call us at:

(323) 869-8867 or (866) 811-8984

Feel free to e-mail any questions or inquiries to us at: MyraDLopez@Yahoo.com

For Free Adult Education in the San Gabriel Valley, go to: www.emras.emuhsd.k12.ca.us

This site was designed and developed by Myra D. Lopez, Business Consulting Services.

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