Posted by Christopher Kelly
Or more specifically, how well is your utility processing administrative information among your vegetation management contractors and your AP/AR teams? Or your foresters?
We hate to ask but, when it comes to your vegetation management contractors, how many of you receive paper invoices, manually enter data, attempt to match records, discover discrepancies during audits, track down lost information and refuse to release invoices for payment until issues are fixed? This is not a shaming exercise but it is an unfortunate reality for many.
Utilities today employ robust ERP systems, such as SAP or IBM Maximo, to manage their enterprise capital and O&M expense reporting. As such, many are beginning to understand the value in automatically rolling up their vegetation management expenses to the appropriate accounting and work order categories. When done, it will increase accuracy and streamline payment approval and processing.
From a billing perspective, utilities that manage their invoices out of the same system that their contractors are using have real-time data at hand such as labor and equipment hours, or units and/or miles completed. By accessing the shared system, utility foresters can easily audit, inspect for accuracy and approve (or reject) the work completed. Only the information that is entered by the contractor and subsequently approved by the utility will flow into the invoicing system. This provides all parties with full visibility and contractors can be paid from verifiable work records. With electronic invoicing, automated payments and electronic wire transfers, contractors can view what invoices have been created, approved and scheduled for payment.