Today’s blog is a Tale of Three Cities.
We’ll give you three brief but instructive stories, and you see if you can match them to the city where each occurred:
The three cities are:
- Westminster, CO
- San Bernardino, CA
- Minneapolis, MN
Short on Cash
In 2012, this city declared a state of fiscal emergency and filed for bankruptcy protection. Reduced staffing made it necessary for an account technician to take on an energy management role. With two electric companies, two water companies, a gas company, and nine months of backlogged energy bills for its energy management software, this city needed a way to stop paying late fees.
This city was trying to implement EnergyCAP energy management software, but they were having setup problems. They had never tried to create a basic structure of accounts or buildings to accurately model the City’s organizational features. The City had never organized its portfolio before. According to the energy manager: “To create a logic tree the first time around was a challenge. We didn’t have an asset system. We didn’t have a nomenclature for Account Codes or Place Codes. We started using physical addresses. But what do you do for street lights? We should have been using meter numbers, and had to switch during implementation.”
Until recently, this city’s utility bill invoicing process was an energy accountant’s nightmare. Departmental Payables clerks in various locations were hand-coding 20- to 30-digit account numbers on every paper invoice. The clerk would mail the invoice to the central Accounts Payable department where another clerk would open the mail and enter the account coding into an ERP payment system. The system was fraught with opportunities for typos and lost invoices, and the City was receiving monthly termination notices and late fee warnings from vendors because of unpaid bills. Often the invoices were miscoded; as a result, charges would be assessed to the wrong department.
Questions and Answers
Utility bill processing and analysis is a challenging undertaking for any organization, not just cities. Each institution’s challenges can be unique, but energy management software helped each of these cities to make changes that favorably impacted their bottom line.
Here are the answers to our matching game:
- Short on Cash: San Bernardino, CA
- Organizationally Challenged: Westminster, CO
- Questionably Complex: Minneapolis, MN
Want to read more about how Minneapolis solved a problem with the City’s utility bill accounting processes?