Utility companies rely heavily on Customer Information Systems (CIS), but sometimes there comes a time when you might want to replace your existing setup. There are a variety of reasons you might want to switch, but it’s important to remember that no matter what direction you go, there are a lot of steps to consider as it can be a huge undertaking. In the next few posts, we will provide an overview of all the things to consider when replacing a CIS.

Identifying Requirements

First, you have to decide what you want or need in your new CIS. If you’re not sure where to start, remember that listening  – especially to customer and employee feedback – is a great starting point. But there are lots of other things a new CIS can offer over your existing one. Maybe you want better bill formatting or more efficient database management. Perhaps you’re not even sure what it is that you want. In that case, we recommend Cognizant’s white paper on Unlocking the Value of Utilities’ Customer Information Systems, where they discuss trends, emerging technology, and other things to be aware of when considering a new CIS.

Publishing an RFP

Completing your Request For Proposal (RFP) is another crucial step in your process. Waterworld highlights the importance of an RFP by saying “The utility should define the scope, strategies, and objectives of the CIS project, and it should understand and document current business and technology processes.” The article also stresses how important it is to determine how much the project will cost (including funding sources), how the new system will be selected, and how the project team will work. Additionally, you’ll want to include all those requirements you highlighted in the previous step.

Shortlisting and Selecting the Vendor

Your RFP is submitted and now you have your list of possible vendors. But how do you choose? MECOMS published a whitepaper highlighting 10 important questions you should ask that help you choose your vendor. For example, can the system adapt to ever-changing legislation and business processes? How has the solution fared over the years with other clients? Do you as an organization have the resources and infrastructure to support the installation? What kind of training will be required? (Which we’ve also talked about in previous posts)

Those first three steps are quite a lot. Join us in our next post as we highlight the next few steps once you’ve selected your vendor.