Proper technology strengthens internal controls for utilities

Many utilities spend an extensive amount of time creating reports for their management and/or board of directors. For some, archaic systems lack report writing tools. For others, no system exists so word processing or spreadsheet files house information.

These antiquated processes—complete with hand keyed data, multi-source information retrieval, and manual report creation—can significantly weaken a utility’s internal controls.

Utilities should limit manual manipulation and strive to invest in technology that centralizes data including:

  • Financial software with financial statement reporting functionality
  • Outage management system to assist in restoration of power and provide outage information for reliability reporting
  • Work order asset management system to plan, schedule, dispatch, and track all work – Throughout the asset lifecycle, it tracks and manages asset and location data. This software also achieves inventory, contract, and procurement management.
  • Utility billing to provide billing and customer information management, generate bills, and receive and track payments – This software also maintains historical information regarding services, stores accounts and customers, and tracks and verifies consumption.

Many utilities choose to implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution rather than multiple off-the-shelf software applications. An ERP system supports an organization’s finance, human resources, purchasing, and payroll functions, and it includes functionality for:

  • Transactions
  • Reporting
  • Workflow
  • Approvals
  • Controls

ERP transforms a utility from one with disconnected, redundant data contained in multiple systems into one with a single point of data entry, increased information management capacity, and reduced systems and processing time. Because the software is integrated and data is centralized, errors and time to create reports are significantly reduced.

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly energy and utility specialists can help, contact our team.