BEACON AMA onboarding is the entire process a utility goes through from the time an order is placed until users are trained and deriving value from BEACON AMA. One key part of the onboarding process is successful integration of the interface file with the utility’s billing vendor, which can be time consuming and delay implementation of the BEACON AMA solution if not properly executed.
The following information is intended to help the utility understand the overall process, and responsibilities, to help ensure a successful onboarding experience. Refer to BEACON® AMA Onboarding Billing Vendor Integration & Deployment Best Practices for a handy checklist you can use in planning your deployment.
Billing Interface Integration
Integration with the utility billing vendor is vital part of the process, and the first important step is for the utility to involve their billing vendor at the very beginning of the onboarding process. While Badger Meter adds value to the engagement and onboarding process in working along with the utility billing vendor to ensure the utility’s interface file is properly formatted, including your billing vendor at the onset of the process will allow their team the opportunity to qualify the work to be done, define scope of work, and determine what fees may be charged to the utility for the integration.
Overall, the interface process is very straightforward. The billing vendor needs to create an appropriately formatted output file (BEACON Import File), then validate the BEACON Data Exchange (DE) Billing Read Export File data as an input into the utility billing system. After these file formats have been verified, the Badger Meter team will ensure the data sent from the billing vendor interface supports BEACON AMA and does not contain duplication. Refer to the BEACON AMA Onboarding & Billing Interface Process flow chart for more information.
Onboarding and Interface Integration Kickoff
Badger Meter begins the onboarding process upon receipt of the utility’s PO for a BEACON AMA solution and completed BEACON AMA Onboarding Questionnaire. A representative from Badger Meter will contact the utility to confirm the information provided on BEACON AMA Onboarding Questionnaire is correct and answer any initial start-up questions the utility may have at that time.
NOTE: To avoid unnecessary onboarding delays, it is important the utility has contacted its billing vendor before this meeting and placed a PO for the billing vendor’s interface work. The contractual relationship is between the utility and billing vendor, and the billing vendor will rarely work with Badger Meter without your advanced authorization.
Once contacts and information have been confirmed, Badger Meter will begin setting up the utility’s BEACON AMA portfolio. The portfolio encompasses the utility’s specific hardware assets (endpoints, encoders, meters, mobile reading technology), customer account information, consumption data, and utility specified BEACON AMA user access accounts. An Onboarding Specialist(s) will utilize an Onboarding Questionnaire to collect information from the Utility as to its people, operations and processes to be used in configuring the Utility’s BEACON AMA portfolio
Typically, Badger Meter will schedule a conference call with the utility, billing vendor, and Badger Meter team at this time to review the scope of work, responsibilities, answer questions, and establish a schedule. If billing interface requirements have not been previously provided to the utility’s billing vendor, Badger Meter will also provide the interface requirements and other information at this time.
During this meeting the group will review the Data Exchange specifications so your billing vendor may ask questions and leave the meeting with the information, and authorization, to begin work on its interface for your utility.
What’s Next? Sample Data Exchange File
Now the responsibility shifts to you and your billing vendor to provide a sample Data Exchange file with the utility’s data. Badger Meter will validate the sample file to ensure the file layout and data meet BEACON specifications and can be passed between the billing system and BEACON. The billing vendor is responsible for formatting and file layout. The utility is responsible for correcting data entry issues as necessary and keeping its billing vendor involved and engaged in the interface file process.
After the kickoff meeting, the responsibility shifts to the billing vendor to prepare and provide Badger Meter with a sample Data Exchange (DE) file for validation. After validation of the sample DE file format, the utility will be required to work with its billing vendor to provide actual customer data in the approved format for validation. The utility is responsible to correct any data issues that may exist.
Finalizing the Data Exchange File and Scheduling Training
Upon validation of the interface file data, Badger Meter will provide the utility and its billing vendor with a notice to implement the DE interface file. Once the DE file interface is complete, Badger Meter will contact the utility to schedule training so you may begin your BEACON AMA experience.