The Customer Information System is the brain of a Utility. Replacing such a mission-critical system does not happen overnight and implementing new technology can be challenging, even daunting.
When choosing a new CIS, it is so important to define selection criteria and to establish a selection process to assure you select the right solution and the right partner.
1 – Do you want a CIS delivered as a service in the cloud?
Spend time clearly defining your long-term strategic objectives (technology roadmap), and the expectations you have for the delivery of new technology, processes, and functionality. Interview Utility-centric consultants or work with an industry analyst, like Gartner, to evaluate if they can assist you with developing an RFP and/or assessing the RFP responses. They can also introduce you to leading CIS providers in the market. You may be surprised to learn of technology and functionality you did not know existed.
2 – Planning is Power
Getting CEO sponsorship is critical to the success of the project. Create a Selection Committee made up of Subject Matter Experts from every department within your organization. CIS solutions today feature automated workflows and best practices to eliminate duplicate data entry and departmental silos. A new CIS will have a large impact on your organization. Getting departmental leaders invested in the project early will pay dividends when adopting a new CIS system.
3 – Automation and Digitalization
Discover what other Utilities are doing to elevate their business process and customer engagement through CIS and CRM solutions. Peer Utilities will often openly share their experiences and provide real insight into how their CIS and CRM solutions are operating and hopefully changing their environments for the better.
Industry events, such as Future of Utilities or Utility Week Live, or industry Associations such as the Energy and Utilities Alliance, Energy UK or Renewable UK are very useful tools in establishing and building peer Utility relationships.
4 – Focus on your big picture goals
Define what matters most in the CIS replacement process and the order of importance in achieving your overall Utility goals.
Technology, cost of ownership, cost of acquisition, cost to serve, functionality, references, and implementation track record are all areas for critical review. Defining what is most important early in the process will help you stay focused during the evaluations.
5 – Show me
After selecting your finalists, ask them to demonstrate your most important business processes over two or three days. Provide detailed scripts for the vendors to follow, to assure your selection committee. Subject Matter Experts clearly invest in the best solution for their needs, and your Utility’s overall needs.
BWSC and its 500 employees are responsible for the water distribution and wastewater collection for over 90,000 accounts within the City of Boston (US).
Listen to Peter Hunt, BWSC’s CIO, talking about the main challenges and drivers he faced when evaluating and replacing their legacy CIS, and how he prepared for selecting the right vendor.