Why You Need a Quality Assurance Consultant for Your CIS Implementation

The customer information system (CIS) is vital to any utility company. It covers everything from consumption and metering process to payments, collections and other downstream processes. While CIS transformations are critical, they are also high-risk, high-dollar projects, which leaves many utility companies concerned about how to be successful or even where to get started.

These concerns are valid —  the breadth of a CIS implementation is wide, covers many business operations and has high internal and external visibility. There are numerous potential risks to navigate, such as schedule, scope and budget. It’s difficult to walk the fine line of managing all these risks—when one goes off track, it can derail the others. However, with a solid understanding of quality assurance (QA) and the support of an experienced QA consultant, you can help guide your utility through a successful CIS transformation.

Understanding quality assurance and quality assurance programs.

First, let’s take a step back to understand what QA is and why it’s so important.

Quality assurance is the monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project or service to ensure that standards of quality are being met. A QA program’s primary purpose is to analyze the quality of project results to ensure they conform to specific requirements and comply with established plans. The results of this analysis help reduce overall risk to the project.

Having appropriate QA programs in place is an investment in the success of your project. CIS implementations tend to be longer, more complex projects, which puts them at risk, making implementing best practices a critical must-have.

With this understanding as a foundation, you’re better positioned to reap the rewards of having a QA consultant involved in your project.

The top 4 benefits that a quality assurance consultant offers.

QA consultants should perform periodic assessments during a CIS implementation, bringing you a multitude of benefits as a result of their seasoned experience.

1. Expertise

Gaining outside views and the opinion of people qualified and experienced in CIS project implementations will help set your project up for success. You benefit from consultants’ years of experience, having done implementations numerous times. They can help identify issues before they happen, navigate obstacles and pull out tips and tricks when appropriate.

2. Objective Evaluation

Secure an objective evaluation and grading of deliverable progress. The worst thing you can do is receive a biased opinion of your project, as you’ll receive either sugar-coated news that lets you walk into trouble down the road or doom-and-gloom news that costs you money avoiding potential issues that wouldn’t have ever come to fruition. QA consultants can identify true strengths and weaknesses in your project.

3. Notifications

Receive notifications about areas that are either not progressing, or likely won’t progress, according to plan. An experienced QA consultant knows when to sound the alarm to avoid hitting a snag in your progress plan.

4. Actionable Recommendations

Obtain practical corrective action recommendations. Because of their seasoned experience, QA consultants know realistic ways to navigate obstacles or improve quality in your CIS transformation plan. These recommendations don’t just tell you what is wrong, but how to go about rectifying the situation. A good consultant won’t leave you unclear about the next step to take action but instead helps guide you to success.

These are just some of the benefits that QA consultants offer to significantly reduce your CIS transformation risk. However, not all QA consultants are created equal. Here’s how to select the right QA consultant for your utility.

Finding the best quality assurance consultant for you.

When searching for a QA consultant, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

  • Check credibility/credentials—Look for QA consultants that have won awards, such as Best CIS Implementation, or has presented at preeminent utilities conferences.
  • Look for more than utility industry experience—CIS transformations are specific projects that require extensive experience, including expertise in billing and customer service projects. An experienced consultant gives you insight into industry-leading best practices.
  • Ensure assessments will be timed appropriately—In the beginning of longer projects, assessments could happen once a quarter. However, once the project is one-third of the way completed, assessments should be done monthly. Timing is everything because the assessments capture information from one point in time, but projects are dynamic and change. Timeliness prevents information from becoming outdated.

The USP differentiator.

Risk mitigation is of utmost importance when implementing your company’s critical business systems. Reduce your risk and help ensure a successful CIS implementation for your utility by having an experienced QA consultant by your side.

With a team of CIS implementation experts, USP focuses on billing and customer service for utilities. Our consultants have decades of experience in the industry and can help you smoothly navigate your CIS implementation project.

For more information and insights, contact:

Jason Gordon
Utility Solutions Partners-Regional Vice President