How long have you allowed your GIS to just skate by doing what you asked for and not really pushing the limits and meeting its true potential? This time of year many of us are having those same conversations with our kids as we get ready for another year of school. Some of those conversations are ones around reaching for the stars or focusing on your strengths. Your GIS data is no different. Now is the time to really evaluate the potential your GIS has once it realizes it has no limits. Here are a few tips to help prepare you for your “Talk…” Take a deep look at your data and really think about what information you have at your fingertips. Is it functional for your crews in the field to take with them and optimize the way they work? Put on your creative thinking cap and think about the possibilities—do you explore putting information like voltage data into the map? Are there other pieces of information that visualizing the location would assist in solving work challenges you face each day? Remember, think about what is your true business problem you are trying to solve and can your GIS data have the potential to get you there? But be cautious and to not overcomplicate your data. Have a solid base map without additional layers that clutter the map and slow the performance. Most importantly, ensure your data is accurate and if not take measures to get it there. Just remember that just like in parenting you are not alone. NISC is here to help support you in your “talk.” For more information on assisting your GIS in meeting its potential contact our NISC GIS [...]
Since NISC and its parent companies NCDC or CADP were formed nearly 50 years ago, the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has never visited a campus of the technology cooperative. That changed Friday, July 17, when NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson visited NISC’s Lake Saint Louis, Mo., location for a day of technology talks and a discussion about the utility industry.
IT Cooperative Adding 33,000 Square Feet to Accommodate Continued Growth Mandan, N.D., June 24, 2015 — National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), a leading provider of technology solutions to utility and telecommunications organizations worldwide, officially broke ground today for their newest building at the Mandan, N.D. campus. This expansion will accommodate the current and projected growth of the IT cooperative as well as connect all buildings on the campus. "Breaking ground on a larger facility reflects NISC's commitment to our growing Membership and to North Dakota. We are very thankful for the community support we have received," said Jasper Schneider, Vice President of Member Engagement at NISC The groundbreaking was marked by speeches given by Vern Dosch, NISC President and CEO, John Smith, NISC Board of Directors Chairman, and Arlyn Van Beek, Mayor of Mandan. Smith, Van Beek as well as Jim Keller, NISC Team Lead Automated Mailroom Operations and Facilities, shoveled the ceremonial dirt to officially begin the $7.5 million project. The event was attended by many NISC Mandan employees and members of the Bismarck-Mandan community. The Mandan location, one of four NISC campuses in the United States, has been the North Dakota campus of the technology cooperative since 1966 and is home to more than 400 employees. The Mandan facility will expand by 33,000 square feet in an effort to accommodate the demands of a growing organization, offering additional office space, meeting rooms, a dining facility and fitness center. At NISC, employees focus on service excellence and innovative information technology solutions that enable their Member-Owners to excel in customer service, maximize diversification opportunities, and compete effectively in the changing utility and telecommunications industries. Due to the continued steady growth of the IT cooperation, NISC [...]
IT Cooperative Recognized by Computerworld, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Lake Saint Louis, Mo., June 22, 2015 — National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), a leading provider of IT and software solutions to utility and telecommunications organizations, has been named one of the Top 100 Best Places to Work in IT by Computerworld Magazine. The recognition marks 12-straight years that NISC has been included on the Computerworld list. “This recognition is very special, because it comes directly from the NISC employees,” said Vern Dosch, NISC President and CEO. “We work very hard as an organization to make sure that we have a positive, productive and enjoyable workplace. Being recognized as one of the Best Places to Work shows that our employees are passionate about what we do as an organization.” This year, NISC is ranked No. 13 in Computerworld’s small business category. Computerworld’s Best Places to Work in IT list is built from a comprehensive survey sent to employees that judges satisfaction with the organization for several categories including benefits, career development, retention and training. NISC has made the 100 Best Places to Work in IT 13 times. "The 100 organizations on Computerworld’s 2015 Best Places to Work in IT list realize that attracting and retaining a highly-skilled technology workforce leads to competitive advantage,” says Scot Finnie, editor-in-chief of Computerworld. “In a tight market for tech talent, these outstanding employers attract the best and brightest IT pros with generous salaries and top-drawer benefits, then deepen their teams’ engagement with challenging, business-critical projects built around cutting-edge technologies. As a result, these winning organizations are best positioned to take advantage of the digital transformation sweeping through every industry.” Along with the Computerworld recognition, NISC has also been named one of [...]
Excitement is at an all-time high this week. The biggest football event in the world started last week. Yes, the excitement is about football and not as much about our project... I am talking about the real football, the game played with the round ball and what the United States calls soccer. The FIFA Women’s World Cup™ commenced this week! My friends and I are in the minority in the United States, we schedule our life during these four weeks around this beautiful game. Good thing the tournament is being played in Canada. The games are in the evening and I can concentrate on our project during the day and the games at night. ABS is scheduled to go live in approximately six weeks and employees continue to validate data and test the software. I am pleased with the status of the ABS data conversion; we have relatively few data issues with the first data cut. Last week, we saw the first cut of the CC&B data and our employees began data validation. We kicked off the week meeting with our employees to discuss the changes between our current system and iVUE®, data we will and will not convert and how to report issues. We provided employees with a list of accounts to validate and instructed them to select random accounts to validate in addition to the ones assigned. We asked each department to verify the data they work with in their daily job. Data validation serves two purposes; first to expose any data conversion issues and second users are becoming familiar with navigating in iVUE® and the information contained on each screen. Issues are reported in our help desk system and are reviewed by [...]
What do lush bath bombs, black socks, Johnny Castle, and Randy Savage have in common and why am I discussing them in my software implementation blog? The story begins in 2006. I worked at an electric cooperative in Georgia, where we were implementing iVUE® and Rusty was the ABS Project Manager. Over the course of the implementation, I developed a personal relationship with the Project Managers and other NISC personnel. I learned about their families, discovered what they do for fun and learned about their interests outside of business. Fast forward to 2014, PRECO and NISC were under contract to implement iVUE and we were discussing timelines and Project Managers. Our first request was to obtain Rusty as our ABS Project Manager. We had a relationship with Rusty and knew he is an expert with iVUE and understands the financial side of the business. Rusty and Mathew arrived on Monday for ABS training and within minutes I learned how the two met. Mathew and I bonded instantly when he told me he watched the US Men’s World Cup game from a bar. After a brief kickoff meeting the training was underway. Rusty and Mathew performed training with small groups of employees in their offices. Personnel learned how to enter time, run payroll, purchase and receive material, create work orders, manage fleet, maintain the general ledger, run reports and other accounting functions. The training the employees participated in over the past month paid off, they knew how to navigate in iVUE and understood the basic concepts of the accounting modules and Rusty and Mathew were able to devote the entire week to process training. PRECO’s service territory is broad - extending within 30 miles from the [...]
iVUE® is launched and the implementation activities have taken off like a rocket. It didn’t seem that long ago that we signed the contract and employees were anticipating the start of the project. Like a child waits for Christmas, the project kickoff seemed like it was never going to get here. Now we want time to slow down, it is almost June and we wonder where April and May went. Didn’t I just get off my vacation in March? Training resources and Go Live resources were identified during the contracting phase. After the analysis trips we discussed resources requirements for the onsite training trips and Go Live week with Rusty and Ryan and decided additional resources are needed for both ABS and CC&B. Our employees are located at five office locations and coordinating centralized training while still conducting business can be a logistical problem. WebEx and video conferencing are great technologies but sometimes users grasp new concepts when training occurs in a face-to-face environment. We added a second resource to the ABS process training, Rusty will remain onsite at the headquarters and Mathew Krogen will travel to the branch locations to train employees. The CC&B side is bigger in scope with nearly all of our employees requiring some level of training. We have personnel who perform a majority of their job function within the CC&B application to field personnel using the mobile product. Our initial approach was the train the trainer method: train a group of employees who would then train the remainder of our employees. After careful consideration and recognizing the scope of the project we determined the train the trainer approach was too risky. We do not have the volume of staff to [...]
About six weeks ago, a few of NISC’s staff came and visited PRECO. This wasn’t part of the usual NISC implementation routine.
It’s been a few weeks since I took “spring break” and we are back on task after celebrating PRECO’s 75th anniversary. I mentioned in an earlier blog that training was one of the key components to a successful implementation. Training has kicked off for our employees and they are participating in a variety of training methods to ensure they are familiar with all the components of iVUE®. Our CC&B users are taking a series of courses which will help our employees get started using iVUE®. They are learning terminology, search techniques, navigation, and working with data. They are also participating in an iVUE® basic training and searching learning courses. The system provides numerous ways to navigate and once completed, our employees will be able to search and navigate through the screens and be able to customize the look of the application to suit their personal preferences. The ABS users are participating in training as well, learning about navigation and functionality. Rusty began Administration training and we have our first look at some converted data. Gene Ehli, ABS conversion programmer assigned to PRECO’s project, has converted a majority of our administrative/setup data. We expect to see data in May for both ABS and CC&B and the navigation training will prepare our users to be able to navigate iVUE® when we begin data validation. Channon and Tracy are busy analyzing and converting our data for CC&B. We’ve received a number of emails from Channon with questions confirming how data should translate to iVUE® and data that needs to be corrected in our current system. Both parties are aware of how critical clean data is for conversion and between our data cleanup initiative and the analysis Channon and [...]