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 [...]
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.
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. [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Fortunately for us, November and December were more about strategic planning with regards to implementation preparation. Thankfully, this allowed us to focus on our friends and family as well as some good college football. As the holidays approached and college football entered a new era, the College Football Playoff, we were developing a playbook of our own for our implementation teams. Here at PRECO, a lot of smack talk goes on among the Seminole, Gator and Tiger fans and declarations of “Ohio State won’t beat Alabama” were spoken. Ohio State thankfully, put those naysayers to rest not only beating Alabama but defeated Oregon to take home the national championship trophy. We are equally thankful that we don’t have to worry about a lot of smack talk when it comes to our implementation as we have a plan in place on how to work best with NISC to meet our needs. The holidays are over, college football is done for the season and we are now going by our implementation playbook, we are on track with our training and making preparations for our project. While we don’t go live until July with Accounting (ABS) and in October with Customer Care and Billing (CC&B), there’s a lot of upfront work being done by several hard-working, dedicated people on this project. We are rolling along and ready for NISC’s first onsite visit, scheduled for the end of January. We have two lead project managers, one dedicated to ABS and another to CC&B. This way we can focus on specific needs for each group and meet employee needs. Carol Braxton, PRECO’s ABS project manager completed the ABS analysis questionnaire and is ready for our upcoming visit. Veronica Fabila, PRECO’s [...]
Peace River Electric Cooperative (PRECO) is a new Member of NISC. We are embarking on a new journey with NISC—as we are now in the process of converting several of our solutions to NISC’s iVUE® solutions. Over the years, many people have inquired about NISC’s implementation process and when they approached me about documenting our implementation as it happens, I jumped at this unique opportunity. To share an implementation experience as it happens has never happened before in our industry and I think there will be many benefits of sharing our experiences. This is a software implementation and we know the system will have errors and things will not work right out of the box. We know we will have some hard days ahead and the Florida sun will not shine every day but in the end, I know that NISC will be there right with us, ensuring we are on track to a successful implementation. I hope what I share in this blog that you will find a tidbit or two that you can take away and apply at your office. We will be posting blogs on the NISC Community (that may have some proprietary information) as well as on the www.NISC.coop website. Please join me over the next year, as I share with you an honest dialog as to how NISC and PRECO work together to implement several iVUE solutions.