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Louise Blackman

|Louise Blackman
Louise Blackman

About Louise Blackman

Louise Blackman is Vice President of Member Services and Business Technology at Peace River Electric Cooperative in Wauchula Florida. She is responsible for I.T., billing, member services and energy services. Louise was previously employed for 26 years at Snapping Shoals EMC where she last served as Vice President of Business Technology. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems from Georgia State University. Louise may be reached at louise.blackman@preco.coop

GAME OVER

We are live on iVUE®! When we started our implementation college football was ending and Ohio State defeated the top ranked teams to win the national championship. The year has flown by and as our implementation draws to a close football season has started, Manchester United is in the top three of the EPL and Ohio State continues to maintain their #1 ranking. The week preceding Go Live was busier than we anticipated.  We finalized configuration, tested a few changes with Bill Calc. and made final preparations for the cutover weekend. Legacy data was cut for the final time on Tuesday night. The two minute warning clock was ticking while we waited for Tracy to convert the data to iVUE®. We expected to have data on Friday and Tracy put one in the back of the net when he loaded data on Thursday. By Thursday afternoon the data was balanced and we began execution of the cutover plan on Friday. The member portal, credit card payments and AMI integration were turned on and tested Friday instead of Go Live day. A huge relief to have those functions tested and ready prior to live day. Tracy was able to convert most of our data but due to the nature of the service orders we had to enter all open service orders from our legacy system before we went live. Our dedicated team of employees spent the weekend entering 1,500+ service orders along with other miscellaneous member transactions into iVUE®. The final whistle blew, the game was over, October 5th arrived and we were live! Ryan arrived with a team of NISC staff. We celebrated that morning! October 5th was not only Go Live day but it [...]

By | October 26th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on GAME OVER

Dawning of a New Day

The pastel colors of the sunrise are slowing rising in the sky, Kip Moore is blaring on the radio and I am pulling into the parking lot as another day dawns on our final days of the iVUE® implementation. Another day closer to Go Live! September arrived, kids have gone back to school, the long Labor Day weekend ended and unofficially summer was over. We came back to work from Labor Day and began parallel testing. We do not have the volume of staff that allowed us to duplicate all of the entry from our legacy system into iVUE® but we duplicated as many of our daily processes as possible. Service orders were created and processed, payments entered, collections ran, and bills processed. Hundreds and hundreds of bills were printed and verified between the legacy system and iVUE®. Parallel testing allowed us to fine tune the system, verify the accuracy of the bill and ensure our employees know how to use the software. All the project tasks slated for September were implemented. The remittance system was configured, credit card machines were ordered, cash drawers and printers installed, and the new payment line was ready. We are ready for the cutover week when our legacy system will be set to Inquiry only, the final data cut sent to NISC for the go live conversion and a few days of “normal working hours”. With all of the long hours we sometimes just need to take a break and get away from the implementation. Usually this means lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant or an ice cream break but a couple weeks ago my employees found the time to celebrate my birthday complete with streamer, cake and all [...]

By | October 7th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Dawning of a New Day

Eight, Seven, Six, Five…

The clock is ticking away and go live is three weeks and four days out…(but who’s counting). We are counting down the weeks and days and many times wishing we could stop the clock for a bit. Over the past several months, our employees participated in web based and classroom training. We validated data and have been introduced to Mobile WorkForce. At eight weeks until live, we started seeing everything come together. Ryan was onsite for a week of process training. He taught our billing personnel how to run the bill calculation program, process bank drafts, run the delinquent-collection processes, balancing and analysis reports. Billing personnel are scheduling time over the next couple weeks to test all of the processes. We are able to verify the processes work because of process training earlier in the project. We also have one more data conversion before the go live data cut in the event conversion programming changes are required in order for process to work. Seven weeks to go live and we began validating the bill print. We billed two cycles and Energy Services and Member Services employees reviewed the bill to iVUE notating bill print errors. The billing department verified the bill calculations in addition to the bill print. The same issues kept surfacing and we decided to stop validating bills until programming was corrected. We billed a third cycle and began validating another stack of bills. We are tweaking the design of the bill to make the information a little easier to understand for the member. We will continue to review the bill print through the remainder of the project. Employees have expressed the exercise is helping them become familiar with the bill print and [...]

By | September 14th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Eight, Seven, Six, Five…

Just Another Day

Accounting went live on July 27th and the preparation, testing and training proved beneficial. Data was balanced on Friday July 24th and go live was a non-event. We encountered a few issues during the week but none affecting daily operations. Rusty was onsite and available to assist employees with questions and issues that arose. Payroll has processed, invoices paid and material purchased since go live. The accounting department began running the month end processes this past week.

By | August 12th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Just Another Day

Two Minute Warning

We are halfway through the implementation and final preparations are underway for the ABS Go Live on July 27th. Employees are continuing to test the application and validate data. The dollars are balanced and conversion programming to correct the remaining static data is being performed. Integration between iVUE® and third party applications has been tested and ready to become operational this week.

By | July 29th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Two Minute Warning

The Calm Before the Storm

Toes in the water…

By | July 7th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on The Calm Before the Storm

Excitement Mounting

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 [...]

By | June 17th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Excitement Mounting

Connections

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 [...]

By | June 3rd, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Connections

Blast Off!

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 [...]

By | May 20th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on Blast Off!

3…2…1…PRECO in Action!

About six weeks ago, a few of NISC’s staff came and visited PRECO. This wasn’t part of the usual NISC implementation routine.

By | May 6th, 2015|Peace River|Comments Off on 3…2…1…PRECO in Action!