Customer Management System

There are tons of systems out there trying to improve business processes of utility companies in general or electric companies in specific.

The key is still doing the re-engineering process well and the application system will just a tool to follow the processes. I put some of my thoughts about Electric Management System in this blog. Feel free to read and comment.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Backing Up Your Starting Data after Conversion

When implementing new system, conversion was done during cut off period. When all data have been converted from old system into new system, the back up data of this starting data for new system should be backup and stored into separate dB that can be accessible easily.

Even thought that the data should undergone validations process and approval, it is common that after the new system go live, some people will ask for again for the starting data to check how the data were being converted. Thus, for the first year of new system in operation, it is better to put the starting data in certain dB that can be accessed easily. Not in backup tape that should need a lot of IT admin work to load the data and access it.

Once the request of starting data is lessen on the 2nd year, the starting data can be moved to another backup media for free up the dB in production or development.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Daily or Monthly Charges?

Many utility companies are still applying monthly charges for customers. Let us say: monthly meter rent, or monthly fixed charged. Why? Mainly because the companies implemented monthly billing and the system is not able to compute daily.

Monthly charges seem to be simple and easily understand by customers, but it is NOT fair to both company and customers. Imagine that the electricity is contracted on the middle of the month, since the billing system produces monthly billing with monthly charges, the customers will be charged the whole month for the affected billing concepts/details. The same case will happen when the customer terminate the contract.

Thus, utility company with these kinds of billing concepts charges should redesigned their monthly changer into daily charges. Even if the bill will be computed monthly, but the computation will take into considerations how many days is used from the last reading date until current reading date. By using number of days, billing becomes more fair!

This daily billing computation charges will benefit as well when the customers want to change the load power or tariff that will affect the cost of electricity. For example: customer A wants to increase the load from 1300VA into 5000VA in the middle of the month. Since mostly the computation of charges are different from 1300VA to 5000VA, the billing system from be able to compute by using number of days:
- billing computation using 1300VA from last reading until middle of the month
- billing computation using 5000VA from middle of the month until current reading

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Christmas is near

Christmas is coming next month we need to buy some gifts for our loved ones. It is becoming a tradition in my family to exchange gifts in during Christmas eve. We need to email our wish list to family to make sure that the gifts are usable. I like to do shopping a month before Christmas to avoid hassle and crowd places in shopping centers. Anyway, most stores already started their SALE signs even a month ago.

During my leisure time, I like as well to browse for coupons to save more money for money Christmas shopping budget. For my colleagues, I could find Hallmark coupons and get a 20% off for my orders during checkout.

Aside buying gifts for my families, I would like to reward myself during this Christmas. I started to do this kind of reward 2 years ago when I read a book regarding motivate myself by rewarding my hard work for the year. For me, I am thinking a brand new laptops. I am still comparing the prices and specs of different manufactures. Ofcouse I also browse some coupons to save my laptop spending. I saw some coupons on Dell deals.

Online Payment 24/7 for Billing System

Online payment for billing system in general or utility billing system in specific requires a defined business process to ensure all financial statements are correct and good data integrity.

Online payment could be handled in several ways, namely:
- Online payment through website. This requires coordination for any payment gateways or banks to receive payments using credit card and/or bank transfer.
- Online payment through ATM. A collaboration with banks is needed.
- Online payment through cell phone. A collaboration with mobile service providers are needed.
- Etc.

One of the benefits of online payments methods above is that customers can pay at their convenience and they can do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, All payments mentioned above should be treated “offline” by billing system. What does it mean? Why Online payment should be treated “offline”? What I mean is that outside or third party should NOT be allowed to access and updated the billing system online/directly. This is important to ensure billing system data integrity and security.

All online payments should be stored in a file or separated database for further processing during batch process. Thus, these payments are treated “offline” similar like payments in the offices that do not access/LAN to billing system.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Closing of Cashiers – Important for Customer Management System!

In Customer Management System, especially in utility companies, the process of cashier closing is important. At the end of the day, all cashier (whether online of offline) should be closed and do not receive any payment anymore. A good customer management system could detect any unbalance money movement when the cashier is closed. How?
Let say that there are 3 cashiers: cashier A, B, and C. At the end of the day, all money received should be transferred to one cashier (say cashier A) to deposit it to the bank.

Cashier B when declaring that the money is moved to cashier A, a printed money out movement receipt/report should be printed by the system on terminal of cashier B. Cashier A when declaring that he/she received money from cashier B will let the system in his/her terminal to print money in movement receipt/report. This will create balance. The printed receipt/report is only for documentation signed by both cashiers involved. If the declaring of money out and in are not done, system will refuse to be closed because there are money “hanging” somewhere. The same case when cashier C will move the money to cashier A.

By having this money in/out reports, the manager of finance or commercial office will be easy to monitor the movement of money. It would be great if the system is centralized so that the manager can always check the amount of money collected and movements between cashiers.

Then, how about implementing 24/7 payment system through online website or ATM. Well, this will be a different procedure to handle that will be discussed in next blogposts. Watch out for it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Private Plate Number

Why do people like to personalize their plate numbers? One common reason is to have it personalized with the owner personality or name. They tend to buy private plate numbers with their initial name on it. However, most companies nowadays are buying personal plate numbers for their cars as part of marketing strategies to promote their company or products.

Northumbria Numbers is a company that can help company to do mass registration of private plate numbers. However, their service also available to individual. They have a huge database of private plate number that you can search on. The good thing is that the company also process the transfer of paperwork, unlike other companies that only provides certificate and let you do the hassle work of processing the number plates. Try to look at their bargain page to save further on your budget.

For individual or company that want to sell their private number plates, the site is can help you sell on a "no-sale, no-fee" commission basis. This is a win-win solution for both seller and the company.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Knowledge Management in Project Implementation

Project Implementation, especially in Utility System Project Implementations, requires specialist consultants to do the tasks. Each consultant has his/her role and responsibility to carry out the project implementation. Mostly, there is no overlap knowledge to minimize the cost of consultants in the project.

The situation like above creates a fragile project environment if a one consultant is absent due to any reasons. The project could be affected or worst it could be stopped temporarily if the consultant who are absent has the knowledge that could create a bottle neck in the project implementation.

This is where knowledge management should be considered in project implementation. There should be another person or consultant that could handle the task if a certain consultant is absent. Of course the result could not be maximum as the replacement consultant is a current consultant working on the project implementation handling other area. Knowledge management could be implemented by assigning a buddy consultant (from different area) to each consultant (say consultant A). The buddy consultant should attend all meetings attended by the consultant A to make sure he/she knows the progress and some tasks done by consultant A. This ways, a buddy consultant could handle temporary some tasks if consultant A is absent temporarily?

Another question is that... how if consultant A is absent permanently because of resigning? Well, a good human resource department in a company should require 1 month advance notice for a consultant to resign. This time could be enough for a company to hire another consultant with the same or similar profile.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Online Project Documentation Management

It is normal for a project documentation to have a tons of documentation. Each phase of the project often mark by documentation deliverables. Not to mention all the minutes of the meetings that needs to be documented. Due to high quantity of the documentations, proper documentation management is required. However, hard copy documentation management is not anymore a trend in project implementation. Most of the consultants and project managers are mobile, thus, most of the informations should be shared online. This is where a proper online project documentation is needed.

A project usually started online project documentation using an intranet within the organization. This way, all members in the intranet network could share the resources that were organized properly. The problem is that if the internet could not be accessed online from outside the office or network. This will be useless as project managers and most of the consultants are mobile.

UK based company created an innovation to offer Small Business Intranet UK. A web based intranet solution that allow all defined members to access the folders based on the privilege that have been set. You will be able to access your files remotely from home with the secured connection to protect all your project documentations. Small Business Intranet UK offers a 30 day free trial so that you can make sure if the customizable solutions fit your online project documentation management. Project manager can ensure to monitor all day to day activities with ease even if he/she is traveling.