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.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Qualities that the Project Team Should Have

The term project becomes so familiar in our every day work. The successful projects running in companies often tempt to have more projects to be launched simultaneously. Upper management could easily forget the important of solid project team member to drive the projects to be successful.

As defined in "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Third Edition", the project management team should understand and use knowledge and skills from at least five areas of expertise:

- The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)
- Application area knowledge, standards, and regulation
- Understanding Project Environment
- General Management Knowledge and Skill
- Interpersonal Skills

One project member is not required to master of the areas above. However, as a project team, they should have covered all aspects. Details of each expertise area are discussed below:

1. PMBOK can be illustrated as sets of knowledge and skills that are generally accepted to have project management. Read details in some PMBOK guides/books.
2. Application area knowledge is the area that has common element to the project but does not need to be present in the project. Such area has standards and regulations that project team member should be aware of. One example is when having a construction project. One should aware that in the application area of construction there are sets of standard (with or without ISO) for building constructions, and sets of regulations that are imposed by government.
3. Understanding Project Environment. Environment could be cultural, social, international, political, or physical environment.
4. General Management Knowledge Skills are the skills required to carry out planning, organizing, staffing, executing, and controlling the project phases. The knowledge and skills could be varied like financial, accounting, sales, marketing, logistics, supply chain, information technology, etc. Project manager should have strong skills on this point.
5. Interpersonal Skills includes the skills like: effective communication, leadership, motivation, negotiation and conflict management, problem solving, etc.

Therefore, an organization should identify the right persons to be included in the project and make sure they (as a team) can encompass all aspect discussed above. This is to ensure the project objectives can be achieved at the targeted time and costs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Attention to Utility Company: When your meter data is not reliable

In some utility company, the meter information stored in billing system is not reliable. This situation could happen when utility company pays too much attention of customer ID or service ID or property ID or other ID to locate and identify the service. It means that when doing meter reading, the readers tends to look for those IDs instead of meter information. If your company is guilty of doing this activity, try to look on how many anomalies or exception related to meter reading. Either, the consumption is too high, too low, or considered as many meter turn overs. If the statistics show that the number of anomalies related to meter reading is high, most probably your utility company has no meter information updated in billing system.

One action to correct the meter information is by doing data gathering to obtain updated meter information. To make it worst is that only readers know how to locate the property based on ID. And most of the time, you will not want to allocate your readers to do data gathering that could take time as compared to normal reading. This can sacrifice the billing period that your company has set. Not to mention if the house is locked and the reader needs to wait.

One solution is to use other resources as surveyors and they will do sweeping the whole area. In order to make the sweeping efficient and they could link all the meter info to correct customer ID or other ID, a preliminary campaign should be done. A reader when doing normal reading should put sticker near the meter info and write related customer ID or whatever ID that the company wants to relate to. This way, the surveyor could link all the meter info gathered to the ID used in billing system.

Train the surveyor effectively so that the method of sweeping is done correctly and surveyor know the meter information to gather.

Take note on meter exchange done during the data gathering period. All meter exchange activities should be monitored and integrated with data gathering data to make sure that the data is always updated.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Project Manager Leisure Activities

As project manager, you tend to be invited to some informal meetings. These informal meetings could take place in restaurants, golf courts, or even casinos. That it why as a project manager, one should as well enhance his or her social knowledges for other sports and/or activities during leisure time. A common interest could make an informal meeting more relax. Imagine a situation where you are invited to casino by your partner to have informal meeting and you just stand there having conversation without playing. Simply because you do not know how to play the game.

Well, it is never too late to learn something new. With advanced technologies nowadays, you can easily try to play online casinos. However, be very careful with some online casinos because they are fraud. Big Fraud! You should keep your credit card from such website. Try to look the reviews of online casino in Online Casino Topic. That website is giving a review of outstanding online casinos available. Try to look on the detailed review and you can find some of the sites are giving bonuses for you to play with. Aside from the review, the site offers you some tips and strategy. If you are really beginner, there is an information page that describe how the game is being played with the rules.

Some of you might thing that this is not a good idea to learn how to play. Well my friend, my opinion is that something is bad if it is excessively and without control Even working could be bad if you do it over and loss control of your rest time. Online casino is a good place to learn as you can control yourself without the pressure of other people watching you or waiting for your move. You can start with penny deals as well.

In the end, it is good to learn new things!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Analysis and Design Phase - Pay Attention to it!

"Analysis and Design" Phase is a phase in Project Management for Application or Software. During this process, a consultant or analyst will do depth analysis on the current situation and relate them with the application, software, or system that are going to be implemented or enhanced.

Though it is one of very important phase in the project management, there seem to be ignored or not paid attention to. Below are the common reasons:

1. The Analysis and Design considered as a "boring" phase in the project. The analyst need to document all activities and gaps that we identified. The design created is sometime too general. Client or parties being interviewed are sometime just tell the problems in general without going into details. They get bored telling the problems and assuming that the consultant or analyst should pick up their own from any documentation available.

2. Lack of of time dedicated. With limited time, analyst often relies on client's documents or interview. The important part is too see or experience him/herself the current system and understand the behavior and problems of the current systems.

3. Related to point 1 and 2, the design is not detailed or not yet verified by the technical people that are going to do the enhancement. The design is supposed to be detailed with proposed print screens of the enhancement or functionalities. Clients or users does not tend to understand the detail design during approval. In their mind, they will wait until the development is finished and will do the review afterwards. But this is not how it suppose to work. Both parties should understand in details what the design is and how the end product will be to avoid arguments during product testing.

In order to avoid problem and make a good analyst and design, project manager or team leader should allocate enough time and good analyst on this phase. Analyst should understand fully about the system and create as detailed design documentation as possible. All proposed windows, functions, and button should be presented if applicable. Analysis on cases, what if, should be documented as well.

On the other hand, client or user should put more effort collaborating with analyst to inform him/her all concerns. When the design documentation if finished, client should understand completely what are in the document.

In the end, it is better to re-work on design documentations until both parties are satisfied with the design. It is more cost and time savings to re-do the design documentations instead of to re-do the development in future.