In early 2012, as part of changes to our core customer care and billing system, TrustPower introduced a Business Intelligence Reporting system. The result is a system that seamlessly spans multiple aspects of our business. Here, focusing on our Metering & Field Services team, we explain why and how the new system was developed, and the shared benefits it brings.
Time For a Change
Prior to 2012, TrustPower used the same core customer care and billing system for more than a decade. The longevity of the technology confirms that it performed well. However, over the years, many different reporting mechanisms had been built around the core system, to extract the information needed to run day-to-day business. These mechanisms had been individually developed: they were 'reporting silos', with different teams using different tools and techniques to extract information.
By about 2011, the reporting mechanisms were increasingly difficult to maintain. They weren't easily accessed or shared, and in some cases, they were no longer well understood by our staff.
"We were faced with a big challenge. The information delivered by the reporting mechanisms was essential for our business operations. But it was clear we wouldn't be able to adapt the mechanisms to work with the new system," explained Paul Bacon, Technology Strategy and Services Manager.
The Meter & Field Services team was a great example of the challenges. In essence, all the key systems used by the team to source information were to be changed in 2012: the reports the team relied on to run their business would no longer work.
"The Meter Reading team really know their stuff. But they didn't have the knowledge or tools necessary to replace all the reports," said Tim Roberts, TrustPower Business Intelligence Specialist.
The Business Intelligence (BI) team had been developing a new reporting framework, to support the whole business. If BI had taken a traditional approach, they would have developed the meter reading reporting mechanisms based on lengthy initial analysis and rigid requirements. Instead, the BI and Meter & Field Services teams worked closely together, to build a comprehensive reporting system.
"The Meter Reading team provided knowledge of the business to make sense of the data, while the BI team had the technical know-how to bring it all together," said Tim Roberts.
The Benefits of Collaboration
The collaboration brought many benefits, including knowledge transfer, quick turn around on key decisions, and a high quality outcome. "The BI reporting system gave us the ability to perform our critical tasks on day one, for example issuing and monitoring Final Reading, and Out of Cycles requests to our meter readers in the field," said Cushla Dyer, Metering Services Team Leader. "That was just the beginning of an ongoing BI journey.
Once we had our critical tasks covered, we worked with BI to develop reports to help us work smarter. One example in particular is our No Read Action Report. This provides a management tool to monitor and report on properties that haven't received a recent meter reading. It also enables our 60-plus meter readers to identify the sites and work to resolve the issues on a day to day basis. And with all our reports in one place, they are easier to manage, access and maintain."
The enduring legacy of the project is that the Metering & Field Services team has far deeper knowledge of the reporting solution. This enables them to access data and answer questions themselves, without needing the costly technical support that may previously have meant questions were left unanswered.
"The Metering & Field Services team are now actively involved in enhancing their reporting capability to meet future needs," said Tim Roberts. "This will enable them to manage their business more effectively, reducing operational costs and improving the service they deliver to our customers."