If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? We hear that all the time in relation to Utility Billing Software. In fact, often, we hear from utility entities that their software is working fine,, and they don’t want to go through the hassle of changing internal processes and implementing new software.
But be honest here, is your software REALLY working?
Obviously, we have some stake in the upgrade game, but we think it’s far more important for billing entities to be educated on what is available in the current software marketplace.
So here is a step-by-step guide for asking yourself if it’s time to replace your utility billing software.
Conduct an honest assessment of your toolset against something not in the utility billing space.
When was the last time you changed the AC coolant in your car? Probably when it stopped blowing cool air right?
There’s a reason we don’t naturally gravitate towards preventative care and replacement of things that are working well. Things that work tend to vanish into the background of our minds because they aren’t obviously broken...until of course they break.
A good first step in looking at your current tool is to look at your utility billing software critically and compare it to a piece of software you use in your day to day, such as email, CRM, Microsoft 365, etc.
Comparing your software to something not in the same space as your utility billing software is a terrific way to see what is technologically available that may not be in your current software set. It is also a wonderful way as a consumer to challenge the dominant providers in the space to create what is on-par and standard across other technology platforms.
Here are a few questions we’ve heard our own potential customers ask when assessing their current utility billing tools.:
Can you access your software from anywhere or are you limited to a certain machine?
Can you instantly search for records?
Can you easily export and import data and information?
Is the user interface easy to use?
Are you able to customize input fields?
What is the upgrade and update process like?
How often are there new software features?
Creating a checklist of general software components to assess your current platform is a wonderful way to shine a light to see if it’s worth the effort to do some research for new tools.
It is also a great first step in figuring out what your entity specifically needs in a utility billing tool.
Figuring out what YOU need in a utility billing tool
The good news is that with your earlier list, you’re already halfway there! Everything else is now about the details for your current system and processes.
There is no better time to assess improvement of processes than when you’re searching for a new piece of software. The dedication it takes when assessing your internal processes will also help to determine what is important in your search for a better tool.
We know that no one likes to peel back the layers and peek inside at how the sausage is made. However, we’ve seen repeatedly that those companies who start searching for a product without fully assessing their own processes will try to make a software that may not be the best fit for them fit into their world.
It should really be the other way around!
The software should be flexible enough to slide into your current processes with as little disruption as possible.
By clearly defining your dream processes, you can then be better informed to purchase a utility billing software that will make your processes even more efficient.
With that in mind, here are some of the points that we think are important to ask your potential utility billing tool other than those you’ve defined in your processes:
How customizable is your platform?
Are you able to customize your billing rates as an admin?
Does your tool have a customer portal where customers can pay bills and access usage data?
What does the onboarding process look like?
Are you able to customize alerts and notifications?
What does your on-boarding process look like?
How easy is it to contact someone when I need help?
How easy is it to add on additional features?
How to research options and talk to existing users.
Just like anything is the world...Start with Google! Do a quick search for utility billing tools and you’ll get tons of results and potential places to look.
But we all know Google can be gamed and may not give you all the options. You may not find the best software or hear from real-world contacts about what makes a software valuable.
So, where else can you look for other options?
We personally love the team at Capterra.com and their search is honestly one of the best places to find honest reviews for all kinds of software, particularly Utility Billing Software.
There are even product screenshots, contact information, features, accessibility, and pricing information. You can even sign up for a demo right on the platform.
You can also use that opportunity to find some potential real-world users to connect with once you start shopping around for utility billing providers.
Speaking of real-world users, when you get a demo be sure to ask your providers for a few contacts that you can reach out to and ask about their experiences with the software.
Most companies will have a few contacts that are more than willing to speak to their experiences and the potential gaps in the software that could be critical for your research.
Determining how to get the most bang for your buck.
Migrating systems is a chore, particularly ones that are crucial to the profitability of your business. However, that is exactly why you should take the time to do an honest look at your current software and compare it to others that may be available.
As with anything though, sometimes the more expensive and more difficult the process, the more it can save you in time and energy overall. Determining the “actual cost” of a platform when adding in the difficulty of switching will oftentimes make the lower priced options cost more eventually.