Utility Billing 23.1
New Utility Billing Feature
With new functionality added in version 23.1, public utilities can now use Customer Master to bill for electricity, gas, water, sewer, and trash, in addition to communication services. Adding utility billing to Customer Master can be accomplished with minimal set up and all services (utilities and communications) can be included on one bill. If you are interested in utility billing, please contact your Client Solutions Manager.
WILDCARD NETWORK WIZARD
File | Preferences | Network Type Preferences: A “Wildcard Network Wizard” icon was added to the Network Type Preferences screen and is used to set up wildcard network data fields for utility-based networks such as Electric, Gas, Water, Sewer, and Trash. When accessed, users will advance through the wizard to select specific fields to be included in their Wildcard Network(s.) The first screen of the wizard contains Setup Options. In our example, we will focus on an Electric Wildcard Network setup.
Setup Options: The “Network Type,” “Network Label,” “Main Number Description,” and “Display Icon” fields will auto-populate based on the selected network in the grid when the wizard is opened. A Billing Type must be selected and will appear as a node below the network in the Service Order/Sales Lead. “Back,” “Next,” and “Cancel” buttons at the bottom of the Wizard screen can be used to move back a screen, move to the next screen, or cancel the changes.
Network Field Selections: Clicking “Next” will advance the user to the “Network Field Selections” screen of the wizard.
Users will be able to check specific wildcard network fields to be present for the network node in the Service Order/Sales Lead. A “Required” checkbox to the right of each field selection can be checked to make the field on the Wildcard Network node required.
Create Additional Fields button: Each wildcard network node selection for Electric, Water, Sewer, Gas, and Trash will have the ability to create additional fields to be used on the wildcard network node in the Service Order/Sales Lead. These additional fields are user-defined and will appear on the wildcard network node along with the selected wildcard network fields. A “Use for Wildcard Network” check box option can be checked so the additional field(s) will display at the wildcard network node established through the Wildcard Network Wizard. When unchecked, the additional field will appear on the “Custom node” in the Service Order for the selected tier.
Additional Options: Clicking “Next” will advance the user to the “Additional Options” screen of the wizard. A “Manual Meter Read” checkbox option is available to include on the Wildcard Network node, along with the selected fields. When checked, it will indicate the account needs a manual meter read and is only available for Electric, Water, Sewer, and Gas Wildcard network types.
Screen Layout: Clicking “Next” will advance the user to the “Screen Layout” section of the wizard. The field selections from the “Network Field Selections” screen appear on this screen. Although not required, users can move the fields in this screen to arrange them the way they want them to appear on the utility node of the Service Order/Sales Lead. The Back, Finish, and Cancel buttons at the bottom of the Wizard screen allow the user to move back a screen, finish the Wizard selections, or cancel the changes.
Other Utility-based Wildcard Network Field Selections: In addition to an Electric network for Utility Billing, below are examples of the “Network Field Selections” screen in the Wizard for Water, Sewer, Gas, and Trash setups. The Network Field Selections screen for a Trash network only contains the “Create Additional Fields” button for users to set up their own network fields.
Maintenance | Common | USP: Once wildcard networks for Utility Billing are activated, and have been selected from the Network Type drop-down, a Billing Category of “Usage” is available for selection in the Billing Category group box in the USP Code Editor. Check the Usage category to establish a USP code for utility-specific wildcard networks. When Usage is flagged the Billing Amount field caption changes to “Billing Rate,” and the value changes from currency to percentage.
Maintenance | Common | Main Report Area: A “Utility Assistance Journal Entries” group box was added to the Main Report Area Editor screen. A grid inside the group box displays Wildcard Network Types set up through the Wildcard Network Wizard to be used for Utility Billing. Grid columns include “Network Type,” “Cash Debit G/L Account,” “Acct Rec Credit G/L Acct,” and “Utility Assist Credit G/L.” When populated, it will create a debit to the Cash GL and credit the Utility Assist GL when Utility Assistance funds are exported using the Export Cash Journal Entry process. During Step 3 of the billing process, the utility assistance amount will debit to the Accts Rec GL and credit to the revenue GLs. During Step 9 of the billing process, there will be a debit to the Utility Assist GL and a credit to the Accts Rec GL.
Maintenance | Common | Address | Address: A new tab for “Meter Information” was added to the Network Address Editor screen. The grid and editor display all associated wildcard network’s meter details. Toolbar icons provide the functionality to Insert, Delete, Edit, Refresh, Status Filter, and to generate a report to view “History.” A “Statement Date” column in the Meter Information grid will populate when meter information has been sent in for billing and indicates the meter is no longer editable.
Adding or editing meter information will open an additional editor to enter the Meter information, Previous and Current Meter Reads, and Date. A “Clear Unbilled Meter Reads” icon can be used to change a current meter read back to the latest billed read or delete unbilled history records.
A checkbox for the “Landlord/Tenant Relationship” is view-only and will be checked if a “Landlord/Tenant” record exists on the “Landlord/Tenant Relationship” screen for the address.
A button on the toolbar to access the “Landlord/Tenant Relationship” screen will only be enabled for Network addresses with a record in the “Landlord/Tenant Relationship” maintenance screen. When accessed, the “Landlord/Tenant Relationship” screen will open and automatically filter to that unique address to view the Landlord/Tenant relationship.
File | Preferences | Network Category: When Utility-based Wildcard Networks are activated new Billing Category rows are added in the Network Category Preferences screen. All utility usage from the wildcard networks marked as a utility will bill to the new billing category of “Usage” (802, 812, 822, 832, 842, etc.) for all Wildcard Networks. Electric (Basic/Non-Basic) and Usage categories are available for the application of utility assistance funds. A checkbox option captioned “Use for Utility Assistance” was added to the Network Category Editor as well as the grid. When checked, the categories will be included when Utility Assistance funds are being applied to the network. When viewing an electric, water, and/or sewer bill, users will be able to view the Read Dates, Previous and Current Meter Reads, and Total Usage under the appropriate wildcard networks.
Maintenance | Receivables | Utility Assistance: A new maintenance table for Utility Assistance can be used to enter a company’s received Energy (Utility) Assistance funds for a given account. This will allow users to allocate assistance funds to a specific network tier, and when billing is processed, the fund’s balance will be decreased and applied to the selected network tier’s billing categories. The Utility Assistance Maintenance screen can also be accessed from the Receivables suite | Maintenance. Utility Assistance is calculated during Step 3 of billing.
Maintenance | Common | Address | Landlord/Tenant Relationship: A new Maintenance screen has been created to display Landlord/Tenant relationships. The screen will also be available from the Address Suite.
When selected, the “Landlord/Tenant Relationships” grid opens to view the Landlord and Tenant information. The grid can be filtered by active/inactive/all, and a right-click option in the grid allows users to “End Landlord Relationship” or “End Tenant Relationship.”
Maintenance | Common | Alerts: A Manual Meter Read checkbox was added to the Inquiry and Payment Alerts in the Alerts maintenance table. Manual Meter Read Alerts will display in the Alerts group box in Inquiry and Payment Entry. If the Alert checkbox is checked, the option is selected in the wildcard wizard and checked on the wildcard network node in a service order. A Landlord/Tenant Alert was also added and will display in Inquiry and Payment Entry for those accounts flagged as a Landlord or a Tenant.
SERVICE ORDER/SALES LEAD
Service Order/Sales Lead – New Install and Existing Accounts: When Utility-based Wildcard Network wizard selections are complete, the selected fields will be available in Service Orders/Sales Leads for the associated Utility Network node. The Utility network nodes were added to the Service Order Preferences (right-click in the service order tree view to access). Users can select the Wildcard Network Nodes for the activated wildcard networks.
In a Service Order or Sales Lead, the Utility node will appear below the network in the Service Order/Sales Lead, like Telephone and Internet nodes, and will use the layout defined in the Wildcard Network Wizard. The Meter Information associated with the network’s assigned address will display and is read-only/gray. Any additional or custom fields set up in the wizard will also display.
An “Adjust Meter Information” button on the Utility node toolbar links to the “Meter Information” tab in the Address Editor to insert readings, edit meter information, and view history. Selecting the “History” button on the Wildcard Network Node will display the customer’s recent (13 months) meter history across addresses.
Print Service Order: A Utility Networks checkbox was added to the Network section of the Service Order Ticket Options screen. When checked, wildcard network selected fields, additional fields, and additional options will print on the Service Order/Sales Lead under the wildcard network section.
Service Order | Credit Node and Network Node: A new icon was added to the Credit screen labeled “Special Billing.” The Special Billing icon is also available on the toolbar for all network tiers. The Special Billing window includes a Utility Assistance grid and a Budget Billing grid. The Utility Assistance grid is a view only list of utility accounts, while the “Budget Amount” and “Effective Bill Date” columns in the Budget Billing grid can be edited. The grid displays the Budget Amount for each Network tier and users can do a manual true-up to adjust next year’s budget billing as needed. Entries are effective immediately and not dependent on applying the Service Order. The total budget amount will be displayed at the bottom of the screen. Special Billing can also be accessed from a drop-down on the Payment entry icon on the Inquiry screen.
Service Order | Utility Network | Landlord/Tenant: Landlord and Tenant checkboxes are available on the Account and Network tiers in the Service Order to be used with Utility-based Wildcard Networks. At the Account node the Landlord checkbox will always be enabled to set the Account as a Landlord and the Tenant Flag will be checked if any of the Account’s network tiers are flagged as a Tenant. When the Service Order is applied all utility network addresses become landlord addresses in the “Landlord/Tenant Relationship” maintenance table.
At the Network node the Landlord box will be checked if the network address is a “Landlord” address, the network is disconnected, and if the flag is checked. The Tenant box will be checked if the network address is a “Landlord” address and the Landlord’s address for that network is disconnected.
A button labeled “Landlord/Tenant Relationship” was also added to the Utility Network Tier’s toolbar. It is enabled if the account is flagged as a Landlord or the tier is a Tenant. Clicking the button opens the new “Landlord/Tenant Relationships” maintenance table filtered to the selected Landlord/Tenant.
In addition, the GPS/MapCom buttons were condensed into a single dropdown. If all three geospatial options are being utilized, they will now be accessed from the drop-down instead of the toolbar.
Packages | Billing |Bill Cycle Process: When processing billing with Utility networks, MACC recommends companies who want to utilize Utility billing and do not have Telephone or Wireless networks, use the Combined Billing option to speed up billing. Clicking Step One in the Billing Process screen will complete both Step One and Step Two and no Toll processing will take place. Note: Call your Software Support Representative at MACC for assistance enabling Combined Billing.
Utility Assistance is calculated during Step 3 of billing. During the Retrieval Process, the Utility Assistance balance specified in Special Billing on the Account will deduct from the remaining balance after each month’s network tier/categories from the Funding Amount during Step 8 of the billing process.
When a Budget Billing customer is billed, the bill shows the actual usage and charges but adjusts the total amount due to the budget amount. The customer also sees their Total balance (actual).
Tools | Receivables | Request Estimated Bill: The Request Estimated Bill option from Bill Inquiry and Tools | Receivables | Request Estimated Bill is not available on accounts with a utility-based wildcard network.
Inquiry | A/R Balance
The A/R Balance screen was updated to include the Utility Assistance and Budget Billing details. The Utility Assistance group box displays the “Funding Amount,” “Remaining Bal,” and the “Last Adj Date.” The Budget Billing group box displays the “Total Budget Amount” and the “Effective Bill Date.” A column labeled “Budget Amount” displays in the Bill Date rows and shows the history of the total budget balance for each bill date. The “A/R Balance Detail” report includes a “Budget Amount” column to represent each tier’s budget amount. Printing the A/R Balance Activity report displays the “Total Budget Balance”, and the Utility Assistance details.
File | Preferences | Trouble Preferences: A “Network Label” and “WC Additional Networks” column was added to the Trouble Preference grid. Checking the WC Additional Networks option will default to printing the utility network fields and options on Trouble Tickets. A “Utility Networks” check box also was added to the Trouble Preference Editor, and when checked, will print the utility network selected fields on the Trouble Ticket.
Packages | Delinquency | Delinquent Notice: A “Budget” column has been added to the Delinquent Notices grid to aid in identifying budget accounts to calculate late penalties manually. If an account is set up for Budget billing the column will be checked. The following Delinquent Reports will also include the budget indicator:
- Listing Report
- Non-Zero Balance Report
- Delinquent Account Detail
Tools | Receivables | Manual and Automatically Adjust Tier Balance tools:
Budget Accounts will be included in the Manual and Automatically Adjust Tier Balance tools. A Budget indicator column was added to the Account Number and Beginning Account Number dropdowns. Note: It is recommended budget accounts be selected individually to adjust balances, rather than adjusting all the accounts in the drop-down list.
Tools | Restructure |Account Restructure
When processing an Account Restructure, Utility wildcard networks can be restructured to another account. However, accounts with Budget Billing records that have not been outdated cannot be restructured.
Tools | Mass Processing | Importer: A new Import Type of “Utility Meter Read” was added to the Import Type drop-down in the Importer. The import type can be utilized to import meter data to the wildcard network node fields based on selected fields in the tool.
VIEW AND WORKFLOW
Utility-based Wildcard networks will be available in the View screen for the associated Wildcard Network node. Wildcard Network Nodes are available for selection from the Network tab of the Workflow Wizard to be used during the Workflow process.
Tools | Reports | Grid Reports
The following Grid reports were updated to include Wildcard Network details for reporting purposes.
- Report Types:
- Billed Services by Network
- Addresses by Network
- Plant by Address
- Plant by Network
- Sales Lead by Network
- Trouble Ticket
- Service Order by Network
Tools | Reports | Grid Reports | Wildcard Networks: A new Grid report called “Wildcard Networks” is available for reporting purposes. The grid report can be filtered by active networks only and network types and selectable fields include Meter data, Utility Type, Demand data, Usage USP, and Additional Fields to name a few.
Tools | Reports | Reports | Pre-Billing Data Error Checks: A new option was added to the Pre-Bill Error Check-MISC report for “Landlord/Tenant Relationship Errors.” This report will help identify errors for Landlord and Tenant issues so they can be corrected before billing.