Safari 5.0 Preview: Retail Energy Contract Volume Upload

Expansion breeds challenges for retail energy marketers, whether moving into new markets or growing the local base. One of these challenges is managing contracted units for monthly- or daily-priced energy contracts across a large and growing customer base. Our upcoming Safari Version 5.0 streamlines the process of inputting monthly or daily energy contract volumes with the new Contract Volume Upload. 

This new import will allow our users to automatically import monthly and daily unit volumes for multiple customers, and for multiple pricing periods per customer, for all contracted units of all types. For example, the upload file can include both monthly contracted energy units and monthly contracted capacity units for the entire contracted period (e.g., one year) for a customer. Or users may use the import to set daily ‘critical day’ volumes for a group of natural gas customers under a specific utility.   

The import data for all customers and periods can be organized by our users in a single Excel file, which is the import file format. Because the import keys on the unique Safari Contract Number, users can upload fixed units of various types for a single contract or for multiple contracts per customer.  

Like other new Safari imports mentioned earlier on this blog, the upcoming Contract Volume Upload represents EnSite’s continuous commitment to improving user experience and streamlining daily operations.  

In fact, it’s what Safari is all about. If your retail energy enterprise could benefit from streamlining, automation, better data control and decreased risk, we invite you to take a closer look at EnSite Safari Suite.

New Safari Data Imports for Energy Marketers

Question: What can save you from the tedium (and risk) of manual data entry? Answer: Safari data imports for energy marketers. And with the latest version of Safari, our users get two new efficiency upgrades: the Safari Account Property Import and the Safari Status Import.

Account Property Import

The Account Property Import uploads prepared data from a spreadsheet in order to populate Account Property values and their Effective Dates for Accounts in Safari. Account Properties in Safari are shared by every Account in the company database; however, an Account may have a unique value assigned for a given Property. And that date-effective value may be subject to change over time.

Yes, we’re talking manual data entry, for every Account needing a new value assigned. Until now.

Safari users in the mass market utilize Safari Account Properties to create automated monthly charges. When (let’s say) a few thousand Accounts are set up for such Account Property-based recurring charges, a blanket change to the charge value—effective next month—can quickly become a Herculean task involving many hours of manual keyed entry.

The new Account Property import de-Herculizes such a task by automatically updating Account Property values and Effective Dates for the imported values for any number of Accounts. The import’s key value for each record is the Utility Account Number, used to identify the Safari Account to receive the Property value. Each import record also identifies the Account Property to update, the property Value to assign, and the Effective Date for the new Value.

What’s more, the import accommodates an optional “End Date” for the imported Value. Account Properties in Safari do not have an “End Date”, only an Effective Date. To effectively ‘end’ the Account Property value when an End Date is supplied in the import record, Safari will set the property Value to ‘0’ (zero) effective the day following the import record’s End Date. If the Account Property is a recurring charge-based property, this means the charge will no longer be invoiced after the End Date.

For example, a group of Accounts may be newly subject to a monthly charge beginning in January, with a fixed duration of six months. In this case, each record in the import file will identify the Account to be charged, the Amount to be charged, the beginning month for the charge, and the date on which the charge is no longer in force.

All with the push of a button.

Status Import

Like the Account Import, the new Status Import for Safari 4.19 provides users the ability to automatically update a block of Accounts, in this case with new Status records. The import file is simple: For each Microsoft Excel®-based import record keyed to the Utility Account Number for the Account, the Status to assign is indicated, along with a Status Date. These are the only required values for the import record.

Applications for the Status Import include the ability to assign “triggerable” EDI Statuses for multiple Accounts, such as a Historical Usage Request Status or an Enrollment Request Status. When EDI exports are next initiated (either manually or programmatically), Safari will detect the new un-triggered statuses and create the EDI request transactions (which “triggers” the Status so that it will not create such requests again).

Additionally, Account Statuses can be configured and managed for any purpose such that the addition of the Status will trigger specific Safari Workflow-based events.

  • If the Status is configured to send “Notice to Rep,” an e-mail containing the Description text for the Status will be sent to the Default Sales Rep for the Account.
  • If the Status is configured to send “Notice to List,” an e-mail containing the Description text for the Status will be sent to each member of the configured list. (This function utilizes the existing Safari User Notification List screen.)

For example, a Marketer may wish to run the Expiring Contracts report to gather a list of Accounts with expiring commodity pricing contracts. They can then load these Accounts’ Utility Account IDs into the proper Status Import column to assign an Account Status of “Contract Expiring,” and configure this status internally for “Notice to Rep.” In this way, the import automatically facilitates notification of all Sales Reps of Accounts whose contracts are about to expire.

It’s all about efficiency born of technology – it’s all about Safari Suite for retail energy marketing.

Safari 4.19 Preview: New Reports for Energy Marketers (Part 2)

Back in February we blogged about new reports for energy marketers available in Safari Version 4.19 “Part 1”. Well, the wait is over – here’s Part 2 of our breakdown of new reports in Safari Suite 4.19 – enjoy!

Aging by Categories Report

The new Aging by Categories report is built upon the current report, Aging by Utility-Commodity. The new report includes new column data and new report parameters that will filter the “bulk” report data by all filter categories selected by the user.

The Aging by Categories report includes a variety of Report Parameters, which allow the user to filter the data that will be displayed on the report.

Safari Aging by Categories Report Parameters

EnSite clients can read more about the Aging by Categories report in the 4.19 Safari Release Notes, available at the My Safari Web site (password required) and in your Version 4.19 Safari Help system.

Customer Counts Report

Based on user selected criteria, the new Customer Counts report presents year-over-year ‘counts’ of customers who match the report criteria and are active on the user-selected Report Date. The report provides a quick snapshot of year-to-year customer growth for defined categories of Accounts (e.g., for a selected Utility).

To be included in the count for a given year, the Safari Account must:

  • Match the Account selection criteria
  • Be Active on the Report Date

The counts are presented for the current year and two previous years. Thus for a Report Date of 5/1/2016, Safari will return counts for all Accounts determined to be Active on 5/1/2016, plus a second “set” of Accounts active on 5/1/2015, and a third “set” of Accounts active on 5/1/2014.

New and Dropped Accounts Report

The New and Dropped Accounts report provides users with a listing of Accounts that were successfully activated or terminated within a user-selected date range.

To run the report, the user selects a From Date, a To Date, and may select an AR Group (or “All” AR Groups). Safari will select all Accounts with an Active Status or a Terminated Status dated within this range.

The report will output the following data for each Account selected:

  • Account Name
  • LDC Account #
  • Commodity
  • Utility
  • Meter Number
  • Nom Group Name (Gas accounts)
  • Nom Group Number (Gas accounts)
  • Sales Rep
  • Customer Type
  • Rate Class
  • Billing Cycle
  • Distribution Method
  • Active Date (if any) – the Date for the most recent Active Status
  • Drop Date (if any) – the Date for the most recent Terminated Status

Bad Debt Report

Although named the Bad Debt report, this new report may actually be used to report on transactions for any Safari AR Transaction Type and/or Charge Type. The report presents a detail row for each AR Transaction for the selected Safari AR Transaction Type/Charge Type posted within a selected Date Range.

To run the report, the user selects from the following Report Parameters:

  • From Date
  • To Date
  • AR Transaction Type
  • Charge Type (or “All” Charge Types)

In Safari, Charge Types set for “Export to AR” (e.g., “Commodity Gas”) must be associated with an AR Transaction Type (e.g., “Invoice”). An AR Transaction Type may have one or many Charge Types associated with it. The AR Transaction Type is the basis for each AR Transaction in Safari. Therefore the user must select an AR Transaction Type for the report in order to “find” AR Transactions of that type. The user must also specify the actual Charge Type to report on, or “All” Charge types may be selected.

For the selected date range and Transaction/Charge Type(s), the report will present the detailed information for each selected AR Transaction.

Learn more about the Bad Debt report in the 4.19 Safari Release Notes, available at the My Safari Web site (password required)  and in your 4.19 Safari Version Help system.

Welcome George McCoy!

Let’s all welcome brand new Sr. Application Developer George McCoy to EnSite! Like yours truly, George grew up traveling the globe in a military family, and attended the University of Nebraska while his folks  were stationed nearby at Bellevue’s Offutt Air Force Base. After a few more years of travel and adventure, George settled in the Omaha area with his wife and sons. Among other IT skills gathered over the years, George is proficient in software development for VB, SQL Server, ASP and ASP.NET, to name a few. This pleases us! Besides arranging zeroes and ones, George also enjoys hiking, camping, photography and of course Husker football. Welcome George!

Safari 4.19 Preview: New Reports for Energy Marketers (Part 1)

EnSite Safari Suite’s on-board reporting provides a wide variety of industry-focused reports that help retail energy marketers stay on top of their data and their business. Last time, we outlined Safari’s newest data extracts. Also for Safari Version 4.19, no less than eight new standard reports are added to aid our users.

Read on to learn more about some of the new reporting tools available to energy marketers in Safari Version 4.19. (And stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll dish up the rest.)

Safari Suite Reporting Interface

Rate History Report

The Rate History report provides a date-effective history for a selected Pricing Rate at the Pricing Rates screen. This report provides energy marketers an on-demand review of a selected pricing rate’s daily or monthly values over time, for a date range selected by the user. Simple! But effective.

Invoice Special Attention Report

The Invoice Special Attention Report provides energy marketers with a single, comprehensive report of all batched, Not Posted energy invoices that require special handling based on instructions in the Billing Notes field of the Customer Detail screen.

The report works by identifying the Billing Group (i.e. invoice recipient for one or more service locations managed under the group) for each invoice in current Not Posted invoice batches, then determining if there is a Billing Group Note for the Billing Group at the Customer Detail screen (Notes tab). Each invoice for a Billing Group that has such a Note will appear on the report, along with information about the Billing Group and the contents of the Billing Notes, as shown in the report mock-up below.

Safari Suite Invoice Special Attention Report

Billing Activity Report

The Billing Activity Report is a detailed report for a single Billing Group providing a history of transactions for activity that occurred under the “Safari Invoice” Distribution Method. The user may select to review “All Transactions”, only “Invoice Transactions”, or only “Unpaid Invoice Transactions” for the group.

The Billing Activity Report will display the energy marketer’s logo (from the invoice template) in the upper left corner, as well as company Contact information from the address-based User Defined Fields available for the invoice template located at the Safari Invoice Administration screen. In this way the report is made suitable for inclusion with the invoice as a regularly delivered activity report.

Billing Detail Report

The Billing Detail report is much like the current Invoice Register, except that the Billing Detail report is produced for a single Billing Group and provides energy marketers the option to report on “All Invoices” or “Unpaid Invoices.” This report breaks down invoices into their component charges and provides the billing volume for each invoice.

The report’s header design is similar to the Billing Activity Report, using the logo for the Billing Group’s assigned invoice template and the template User Defined Fields for energy marketer name and address information. This enables easy incorporation into the monthly invoice delivery.

Like the Invoice Register, natural gas or electricity commodity volume and a detailed charge breakdown are provided for each invoice, with Grand Totals for each charge category, Total Volume, and Total Invoice charges.

Safari Suite Billing Detail Report