22 Apr 4 Things You Should Ask About Rapid Implementation
A trend we’re expecting to see more of at CS Week is the branding and promotion of quick implementation methodology. Accelerated implementations are attractive because they save both vendors and utilities money.
At AAC, we encourage innovation in implementation methodology. We fully support any partner that takes a thoughtful, responsible approach to implementation projects.
Our advice to utilities is to listen; be willing to hear multiple ideas about implementation. Just ask the right questions and make an informed decision.
Here are four to start with:
Does this solution and process meet my compliance needs?
Every utility’s regulatory environment is different. Whether you’re reporting to a county council, a board of directors, shareholders, or the PUC, compliance with regulations is a priority. We have yet to see a software that could meet all compliance requirements out-of-the-box. So investigate and determine if the software being offered in the solution meets your utility’s needs.
How much IT staff will I need to commit to this solution? and for how long?
Many utilities have right-sized IT departments. Their technology professionals are tasked with daily maintenance and security of the existing environment. CIS projects require dedicated resources from the business and IT. When you evaluate the rapid-implementation solution, ask how many IT persons you’ll need to support the project and the product. Ask how long those people will need to be dedicated.
With some approaches, a solution provider could envision several iterations deploying over a period of time. That means the first version your users experience is not the one they’ll use for the duration. Your IT staff will need to support future deployments.
Can we prepare our users, our company, our suppliers, and our customers in this short period of time?
Software deployment in a utility requires a rather complex change management strategy. Asking the vendor what their change management approach is can help you determine if your project team will be able to ready the organization for rapid-implementation. In many cases, swift change is painful and can cause disruption that brings additional scrutiny to the utility. What is your utility’s current public relations condition? Can it afford the scrutiny that comes with accelerated change? How can we prepare internal and external users for change?
What kind of solution is the rapid-implementation suggesting?
If you think of rapid implementation in two general ways, it may help you to get your mind around the offerings.
The first may be to copy the solution most recently deployed. So wherever this software was last implemented, that’s the version the vendor will bring to your utility. The good news is that the solution is the latest (and probably greatest) version of the product. The bad news is that the last utility to adopt it may be nothing like yours. The regulatory environment, the rate structure, even the service level your utility provides might all contrast dramatically with the last utility. What does this mean to you? Possibly more work.
A second approach may be to maintain a permanent version of the software that can be slightly altered for rapid-implementation. In this case, the version is a gold standard from which the integrator will strip the irrelevant pieces before installing. So if the gold standard has water metering and your utility doesn’t need that functionality, it’s removed. The assumption is that the gold standard has all of the functionality needed to generally operate best practices in a utility environment.
Every utility is different and the needs vary greatly from business to business. AAC suggests our clients first look inside before seeking a solution. Complete a comprehensive assessment of your current conditions, discuss future needs, evaluate available resources, and determine your capacity for change.
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