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Yearly Archives: 2015

|2015

University of Mary and NISC Announce Capstone Course with NISC CEO and Employees as Adjunct Professors

BISMARCK, N.D. – University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea announced Tuesday, April 14, 2015, a new capstone course in the Gary Tharaldson School of Business, to be taught by National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) President and CEO Vern Dosch and NISC employees. The announcement was made at the conclusion of the noon Lunch and Learn series sponsored by the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and the University of Mary. Today's program was entitled "Wired Differently: Leadership Through Service." Wired Differently is the name of NISC's newly released business book that highlights the company's unique business model, servant leadership principles and shared values. Wired Differently will be the textbook for the new college course. "We are truly excited to have Vern and his team work with our students and teach from a book that humbly describes how to spark better business results," said Monsignor Shea. "This new capstone course is a perfect example of our university's work to strengthen relationships between the business community, our students and our faculty." NISC is a nearly 50-year-old technology business built on the cooperative model. It started out providing software and IT services for three rural cooperatives a half-century ago and has grown to 14 million end users in 49 U.S. states or territories and in Canada. NISC has four locations and employs more than1,000 individuals in Mandan, N.D.; Lake Saint Louis, Mo.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Shawano, Wisc. Dosch is an alumnus of the University of Mary as are 61 NISC employees, or 17 percent of NISC's Mandan campus employee population. He says he hopes NISC employees will help students see what servant leadership looks like in a business setting and he wants students to better understand how shared [...]

By | April 14th, 2015|News|Comments Off on University of Mary and NISC Announce Capstone Course with NISC CEO and Employees as Adjunct Professors

RUS Acting Administrator to Join NISC Staff, Lead Member Engagement Division

Mandan, N.D., April 13, 2015 — Jasper Schneider, most recently acting Administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Utility Service, will join NISC as the organization's Vice President of Member Engagement. Schneider, who brings to the position professional experience in technology, law and rural issues, is a North Dakota native. He holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Jamestown, Jamestown, N.D., and a law degree from the Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minn. Before attending law school, he worked as a business analyst for Cisco Systems. He has served in the North Dakota Legislature and was in private law practice before becoming USDA's North Dakota Rural Development State Director in 2009. Schneider was appointed acting Administrator of the USDA Rural Utility Service in the fall of 2014. "Throughout the nation, companies are competing to attract the best and brightest technology talent to meet the surging demand for technology systems and software," said Vern Dosch, NISC President and CEO. "It's with that perspective that NISC is especially pleased that Jasper will be joining the organization. It's rare to find an individual who has a deep understanding of technology and experience providing support to the nation's electric cooperatives and independent telephone systems. He is an ideal fit to help advance NISC's culture of service." According to Dosch, Schneider will lead NISC's new Member Engagement Division. "Today, our Members' business, technology and consumer environments are rapidly changing," Dosch said.  "Utilities and telecoms are embracing new technology and putting a greater emphasis on operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. We are proud to support their efforts to achieve these goals.  Jasper and his team will work closely with Members and our development staff to make sure, at [...]

By | April 14th, 2015|Press Release|Comments Off on RUS Acting Administrator to Join NISC Staff, Lead Member Engagement Division

Time for a Celebration

Peace River Electric Cooperative celebrated a milestone on Saturday March 21, 2015 – we celebrated our 75th anniversary at our Annual Meeting! A lot has changed since the early days of the cooperative. At our meeting we reflected on how far we’ve come through advanced technology and equipment since 1940. One example that stuck out to me and how it relates to today is about meters. Members were responsible for reading their own electric meter and then mailing in their readings. Whereas today, advances in technology allow meters to be read remotely. Members were notified of co-op of outages through a party line and today dispatchers are aware of outages before the member through the use of AMI technology. Poles were once set by hand are now installed using digger derrick trucks. Paper, pencils and ledgers have now been replaced with software, computers, tablets and phones. But not everything in the cooperative has changed, some things have stayed the same over the past 75 years. The seven Cooperative Principles that guided us in the early days still guide our cooperative today and our commitment to deliver safe, reliable electric service at the lowest possible cost is as strong today. While our implementation is in the early stages, we know our members will be well served with the iVUE® solutions we are implementing today and the technology NISC will continue to develop in the future.

By | April 8th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Time for a Celebration

Time Out

At the end of the analysis trips, Rusty and Ryan stated there would be a lull in the project while they reviewed the data gathered during the analysis trip. It is spring break for many colleges and Sarasota is the preferred destination for many people enjoying their break. I figured, what better way to take advantage of the lull than to enjoy a visit with my two sisters? While I'm enjoying a nice break at the beach many of my co-workers are wondering what Rusty and Ryan meant by the lull. Because while I am having a short break from the project, many of my colleagues are still very busy with the implementation. Over the past few months we've identified data that needed to be tidied up and during the data mapping portion of the CC&B analysis trip Channon identified some additional data that needed to be cleaned up. Mainly it’s about organizing and creating a better experience for our members. For example, our mailing addresses and location fields contain information that should be in other fields. While the software we had evolved over the years, we never took the time to clean up and move it to appropriate fields. We made a decision to clean up the data and our employees are busy reviewing and correcting mailing addresses and location data. In addition to cleaning fields, we are working on improving our customer’s experience. A few employees are busy redesigning the bill print. To give us ideas of what we wanted, NISC provided sample bills to help us design our own bill layout. We spoke with several departments to get feedback on the most frequently asked questions from our members about our current bill. [...]

By | March 23rd, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Time Out

Game On

Another part of the NISC team arrived last week. Channon Lowman, Business Analyst, and Ryan Wolfrum, Customer Care and Billing (CC&B) Project Manager, came onsite for the CC&B analysis trip. Tracy Liley, CC&B conversion programmer, participated in the three day meeting via WebEx. As I mentioned in my last blog, our team has been learning the importance of training, testing and data validation. Channon started the first day with a PowerPoint presentation which included lessons learned for a successful implementation. We learned that while executive sponsorship is required and solid project planning and project management are important, however, the key components to a successful implementation are communication, training, testing and listening to the people who use the software. The CC&B analysis was similar to the ABS analysis trip, with NISC gaining an understanding of our business procedures, rates, and policies and mapping our legacy data to the iVUE® data fields. The room was filled with personnel from a majority of our departments, we wanted them understanding the system capabilities and making the decisions on how iVUE will operate. We provided NISC a copy of our data early in the project. It was beneficial to Channon, Tracy and Ryan as they went through the analysis. Reviewing the data helped us determine which fields we did not need to convert to iVUE. For example, you may consider the criteria of an inactive account and which ones will / will not convert. It is beneficial to review your current data before NISC comes onsite otherwise the amount of information being discussed and the decisions that have to be made can be overwhelming. We finished up with the analysis and started on the fun stuff, at least according to [...]

By | March 5th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Game On

Advancing the Annual Meeting with NISC’s New Annual Meeting Tools

How many times have you hauled stacks of printed membership records or set up PC workstations at your annual, regional or district meetings in order to register your attendees? Does your method of tracking progress toward quorum involve tick marks on pieces of paper or having someone continually tabulating registration counts of everyone who’s walked through the door? With NISC’s new Annual Meeting tools, these issues are things of the past. Enhancements to iVUE® Customer Care & Billing and iVUE AppSuite empower NISC Members with new registration functionality that will bring speed, efficiency and security to their meetings. With iVUE AppSuite running on smart phones or tablets, you’ll be able to register attendees as they arrive with just a few taps. If you mail barcoded annual meeting notices to attendees in advance, the registration process is even faster as the barcode can be scanned using the device’s built-in camera to immediately access a member’s information. Keep tabs on your progress toward quorum with a dynamic graph and registration count, along with a total number of attendees including guests. Your consumer data is securely transported to iVUE AppSuite, and on-device encryption and remote-wipe capabilities enhance its security. When you get back to the office, all of your meeting registration information will be available in iVUE CC&B. You’ll be able to generate reports quickly and easily for management or to help you prepare for future meetings. If you’d like more information about NISC’s Annual Meeting tools, or about CC&B or iVUE AppSuite, please contact us!

By | February 27th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Advancing the Annual Meeting with NISC’s New Annual Meeting Tools

NISC Publishes Business Book Entitled Wired Differently

Orlando, Fla., February 23, 2015 — National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) President and CEO Vern Dosch has authored the business book Wired Differently which shares the compelling story of the organization and its nearly 50-year history of being based on the cooperative business model. Dosch unveiled the book during NISC's annual meeting on Feb. 22, 2015 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. "There are tangible reasons why NISC has seen consistent growth over the years, and why so many of our employees have chosen to build a career at NISC rather than consider us merely as a stop along their journey," Dosch said while addressing an audience of over 500."To the best of our ability, through story and example, Wired Differently offers NISC as a business, cultural and leadership model for the reader's consideration." NISC leaders have discovered that the power of leadership through service, the importance of putting values in action, and the foundational strength of operating as a cooperative combined to deliver a collaborative culture in practice, according to Dosch. "Wired Differently seeks to present an intriguing business case for these elements because, at NISC, we have seen how effective they are at drawing out the best in people, empowering them to consistently deliver positive bottom-line results to our Member/Owners and our customers," Dosch said. Readers of Wired Differently are taken inside the IT cooperative where one out of every 10 employees has chosen to stay and contribute for more than two decades, and the average tenure of over 1,000 employees exceeds 10 years. Wired Differently offers insights, errors and the story of NISC's successful evolution into the well-respected community partner and industry leader that it is today. NISC is [...]

By | February 23rd, 2015|Press Release|Comments Off on NISC Publishes Business Book Entitled Wired Differently

NISC Emphasizes Changing Landscape, New Technologies at 2015 Annual Meeting

IT Co-op Focused On Leveraging New Technology While Maximizing Existing Solutions Orlando, Fla., February 22, 2015 — At the 2015 Annual Meeting, National Information Solutions Cooperative President and CEO Vern Dosch recognized that the landscape is changing for Members in the industries served by the IT cooperative, electric utilities and telecommunications organizations. By leveraging new technologies, though, NISC understands how Members can stay ahead of industry shifts. "It is great to be here and to be your technology partner. It is an exciting time to see and experience many new innovations and solutions,” said President and CEO Vern Dosch, to the crowd of more than 500 NISC Members and Customers in attendance at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, John Smith of Pella Cooperative Electric, recognized the accomplishments of NISC’s 2013-2014 fiscal year. "Our commitment lies with our Members, therefore our Members should reap the biggest benefit from the solutions NISC creates. That is why we increased our Member returns by nine percent." The meeting also discussed some of the challenges utilities and telecoms will face in the upcoming years, increased or changing regulations and consumers that are living in more connected homes than ever before. Dosch, along with David Bonnett, Vice President of Marketing and Todd Eisenhauer, Vice President of Engineering and Operations addressed the crowd. The key message from the group was getting the most out of NISC’s suite of solutions to help combat some of the industry challenges through increased customer service, better data access and more efficient analytics. During the meeting, NISC Members ratified several new and newly re-elected members to the Board of Directors: James Mangum: Wake EMC, North Carolina John Smith: [...]

By | February 22nd, 2015|Press Release|Comments Off on NISC Emphasizes Changing Landscape, New Technologies at 2015 Annual Meeting

Kickoff

The official iVUE implementation kicked off on January 27th with the ABS analysis trip. As I mentioned in my previous blog, PRECO's project team includes an ABS and a CC&B project manager. In addition to the respective PRECO project managers, there is a group of additional employees who are assigned to lead various areas: any third party integration, data conversion, SmartHub, Work Management, and Technical Services needs. Along the way, several PRECO employees will be participating in key roles with testing and/or training. Now that we've gathered our core project team of 16 - the Sweet Sixteen - we were ready for our analysis trip. An analysis trip is when an NISC project manager comes out to the site to review current needs and possible challenges that may arise before the implementation. This process helps identify and manage expectations for both NISC and PRECO. In our case, Rusty Willey from NISC came out and is serving as our ABS project manager. Fortunately, the Sweet Sixteen had a couple weeks to continue preparing for the implementation before Rusty visited us onsite. It's important to note that a majority of our employees have not been through a major software conversion before—and as a coach prepares the team before the season begins—we have been preparing our team for the project. We met early in the fall and I provided an overview of the project phases which included analysis, data conversion, testing, integration, and go live date and the preparation and tasks associated with each of these phases. Our project team participated in training on PRECO's project management and data conversion methodologies. Testing is an integral part of ensuring a successful project. In fact, having a structured testing strategy [...]

By | February 18th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Kickoff

Cobb EMC Completes NISC Customer Care & Billing Implementation

Georgia Co-op is fully operational on NISC software after completing first month of billing Lake Saint Louis, Mo., February 17, 2015 — Marietta, Ga.-based electric cooperative Cobb EMC has successfully implemented National Information Solutions Cooperative’s (NISC) Customer Care and Billing (CC&B) suite of applications.  During the fall of 2013, Cobb EMC chose NISC to be its primary utility software service provider. Now, just more than one year later, Cobb EMC is fully operational and has completed its first month of billing on the new software. As part of the project, Cobb EMC also began using NISC’s Automated Mailroom Services for its printed billing and delinquent statements.  Cobb EMC’s members have also migrated to SmartHub®, a contemporary Web and app-based platform to manage and pay their bills.  Cobb EMC completed a conversion to NISC’s Meter Data Management System at the same time to take advantage of tighter integration between the NISC applications and the Cobb EMC AMI infrastructure. "We are excited to be part of NISC and to be using solutions that are built for cooperatives by a cooperative," said Chip Nelson, President and CEO of Cobb EMC. "The hard work that was put in by the Cobb EMC and NISC teams should be commended.  This has been a good partnership and one we expect to build on for many years to come." Vern Dosch, NISC President and CEO, also commended the project teams. "When you take an organization the size of Cobb and implement CC&B, SmartHub and MDMS in just over a year, it takes a lot of communication, hard work and commitment by both organizations," Dosch said. "Cobb EMC has made us a better organization, and we hope that our tools continue to improve [...]

By | February 17th, 2015|Press Release|Comments Off on Cobb EMC Completes NISC Customer Care & Billing Implementation