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According to a 2015 study by TMG Consulting titled 'A CIS Survey and Industry Perspective', 54% of 80 major utility companies across the country are looking at major modifications or an outright replacement of their Customer Information System in the next 5-7 years. A large population of these utility companies use SAP and subsequently the number of implementations of SAP ISU and C4C have been on the rise over the past 10 years.

The core of this transition to new customer information systems has been getting the customer operations teams prepared and setup to deal with business process exceptions. As a consultant how can you get your clients prepared? As a utility back office manager/team member what should you be looking out for?

In this post, we are going to review the key items to plan around to get teams prepared to handle business process exceptions as they transition to new SAP CIS systems. There are a few factors to consider while setting up your teams and/ or managing client expectations.

First things first… let’s talk environments and data… how do you make sure your environments for training are setup and ready to handle the volume of learners practicing multiple exception processing ? Setting up a dedicated training environment is important to make sure there are no disruptions with testing and having enough data sets available will really help your learners get comfortable with practicing processing transactions. Making sure you have enough cases for business exceptions is however the challenge. Working with your functional teams to understand what the ORT cycles schedule are, the volumes involved in each and the proposed refresh cycles. The ideal way to handle environment setup for exception processing training is to take a copy of your ORT environment after a few batch cycles are run and exceptions have been generated. This should in most situations give you an environment with most of the data generated for the cases needed. Incremental copies of ORT data might be needed for cases where data wasn’t generated with batch depending on the scope of the cases you are working with.

Second – How do you finalize what exceptions to actually train on? This is another area where the coordination with your functional teams is essential. Understanding the volumes in each ORT cycle and keeping track of which ones are moving to auto close as the design is getting finalized will help narrow down your scope for training. Documenting processing steps via exception management guides is going to be a critical precursor to make sure learners are setup with the tools to be successful during processing training. Also keep in mind that volumes could change after go live so watching these volumes and planning for Post Go Live training as part of hyper care will be prudent. Focusing on what you are seeing in ORT cycles should get your learners prepared sufficiently for cutover.

Third, focus on the system fundamentals. Before you dive into the details of exception management and how to handle cases, it is vital to make sure your user base is grounded on the fundamentals like understanding navigating the S/4 system, knowledge of foundational master data, processing individual transactions like billing/invoice/print outsorts and blocks, setting up installment plans, service order setup etc. This is vital to get the basic building blocks solidified so learners feel comfortable with the system, understand system concepts and are familiar with discrete business processes before delving into more complex concepts.

Fourth, now that we have solidified the basics concepts it is time to move to exception management training. Diving in headfirst into exceptions seems like a logical choice but easing into it will build proficiency and confidence with the learners. Starting with a phased approach of training on some of the easier exception cases first helps determine comfort levels and will help your team readjust the training approach as needed. Allowing the learner, the ability to practice and process these cases individually by referring to the guides is crucial to make sure the concepts are solidified

Finally, something companies do not think about and plan for – Post Go Live Support. It is best to come to the realization that your system integrator is going away soon…. how do you build this expertise in-house so you can be more self-reliant?

  • One way to do this is engaging your team members from your to-be support organization early in the process. For instance, embedding them in the functional teams to do ORT testing. This is an effective way to have them experience exception generation, routing and processing firsthand.

  • The second way to do this is embedding them as part of the training delivery team – this will give them experience to understand how processing guides are structured, what the possible options for resolution are and how to actual support employees as they experience issues with navigating the exception management process.

  • Embedding these team members as part of the super user/hypercare team is also essential to ensure they can support questions from team members. With the possibility of volumes for cases varying Post Go-Live, it is imperative to stay on the pulse and understand if there are any gaps in knowledge or refreshers needed to help the back-office team members be successful.

To bring this full circle, it is important to have a dedicated training environment to be setup post go live to support this training/refresher and work with your technology support team to copy over generated case data from the production environment to the training environment to help with training delivery.

Getting your customer operations teams prepared to manage business process exceptions can make or break a successful CIS system deployment. Planning around these considerations will help you get your teams closer to getting confident about preparedness for go live and post go live stabilization.

Exception Management Training Approach



This post was also published in Energy Central here