Category Archives: Safari Data

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 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

Safari Data Extracts: Your Data at Your Command

One advantage of a relational database system like EnSite Safari Suite is the ready availability of Safari data—data that is organized, normalized, and accessible via our base product Data Extracts. For Safari Version 4.19, we’ve added no less than seven new Data Extract protocols to the base system, allowing energy marketers unprecedented access to essential customer and operational data.

Read on to learn a little about each of the seven new Data Extract offerings. To learn more, just review Safari Help for Safari 4.19, or the Safari 4.19 Release Notes (available online now).

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Contract Detail Extract – this extract provides much of the same data as the current Contracts extract. An advantage of the Contract Detail extract is that it reports on all contracts for all Utilities (the Contracts extract is created for a specified Utility).

Billed Extract – the Billed Extract reports on invoice data by Utility similar to the existing Invoice Register report. However, the Billed Extract also includes additional column data not available in the Invoice Register report such as Billing Method, Price Type, Customer Type, and more.

Unbilled Extract – the Unbilled Extract provides users an estimate for month-end totals  on as-yet unbilled revenue, units and fees for the month. The extract logic looks at the “last bill” for customers relative to the month selected, then constructs estimated usage/revenue data for the month or the remaining days of the report month based on the usage dates for the customer’s latest invoice (up to the closing date for the selected month). For example, if the extract month is November and an Account’s “last posted invoice” has an End Date of 11/21, the extract will present projected unbilled units, revenue and fees for the nine remaining days in November, plus projected totals for November.

GL Extract – the GL Extract provides robust GL data to complement the existing Daily GL Report. The GL Extract selects all AR data for the selected GL month and organizes results by GL Account. The extract lists individual transaction detail comprising the total dollars for each GL Account and provides GL Account summaries ready to export to Journal Entries in the user’s Accounting system. The GL Extract also supports an optional “lookup” function that can provide more refined GL data results.

User Permissions Extract – the User Permissions extract allows users to monitor permission settings for all users in a single spreadsheet format. The extract lists each Safari User and is ordered by user Last Name. A Safari User will appear once in the extract for each screen or subscreen to which the user has permissions.

Credit Limit Monitor (Extract) – the Credit Limit Monitor reports on Credit limits and outstanding balances for active Customers, providing users a review of Customer credit limits versus their actual AR balances in spreadsheet format for a user-provided date.

Rate Code Extract (EDI) – For EDI customers, the Rate Code Extract provides users with a list of Rate Ready Accounts and their Contract pricing, including Rate Code, along with other information intended to assist users in analyzing Rate Code pricing trends.

Utility Data Management for Marketers

For energy marketers, utility data management and utility relations are a big piece of the success “pie”. The energy customer is, after all, a customer of the utility as well as the energy marketer. In this relationship the customer is, of course, at the center. And as every good energy marketer knows, keeping the customer happy requires keeping the utility happy. Given the sheer number of utilities under which many marketers operate today, good utility relations can be an important strategic advantage. But maintaining that relationship can also be a challenge.

Enter Safari Suite Utility Data Management. Having grown up with the Safari Suite comprehensive system for energy sales and service, the Utility as a manageable entity has long been an integral feature of our energy marketing software and system. From automated EDI to tariff and price modeling, and from dynamic customer data management to utility-specific data operations and rates, Safari has you covered.

EDI Transaction Management

As our blog post on Safari 3rd party interfacing points out, Safari is “EDI ready” in many deregulated markets.

The Safari UDI component (or Utility Data Interface) acts as a bridge between the Safari system and the EnSite customer’s commercial EDI provider to enable seamless, automated communication between the Marketer and EDI utilities (for Bill Ready, Rate Ready, and Dual Billing). In terms of sophistication, the EDI system goes beyond simple data or transaction transfers to conduct complex behind-the-scenes processes in Safari (such as automated price generation/submission for Rate Ready end users). These automated processes permit the Marketer to manage high-volume EDI transactions with minimal human intervention.

Tariff and Price Modeling

Safari Suite’s robust tariff and price modeling functionality takes the guess work out of estimating or creating  “pass-through” Utility charges. The Tariff Model is set up by the EnSite user for one of two purposes:

  • To generate Transportation/Distribution charges based on the Utility’s tariff for the customer’s assigned Utility Service Class
  • To generate comparison pricing based on the Utility’s tariff for the customer’s Sales Class to demonstrate on the invoice the difference between what the customer is paying the marketer and what the Utility would charge for the same service.

In addition to the user-designed Tariff Model, EnSite employs internally developed “tariff programs” that determine rules and methods used for nominating natural gas to the Utility, balancing daily nominations with supply, and managing storage balances.

Account Utility Data

Safari Suite’s Customer Care system manages a variety of date-effective utility data applicable to individual Accounts. Known as “Utility Services”, such account-level data describes characteristics of the Account set by the Utility. Examples include the Account Rate Class, Service Class, its electricity  Capacity/Transmission Obligations, its Maximum Daily Quantity for gas nominations, and much more. In fact, there’s no limit to the amount or type of Utility service data that can be managed in Safari. Users can easily manage updates to values for service data over time, and updates of utility service data via EDI transactions is fully automated.

Utility Rates and UOM Conversion

Users can create and manage unlimited rates for modeled utilities in Safari, known as Tariff Rates. Tariff Rates are available for selection throughout Safari for such purposes as factoring line loss (distribution loss) into metered volumes purchased at the city gate, assigning the utility’s BTU value to natural gas supply,  charging unit-based fees such as transportation fees, setting rates for electricity charges related to Capacity and Transmission, and much more. Tariff Rates are also utilized in setting up utility-specific “conversion factors” that allow Safari to translate usage in one Unit of Measure to billed units in a second Unit of Measure.

Safari Suite: Unlimited Utility Support

As this review demonstrates, the Safari utility is a highly developed, constantly evolving, and inherently flexible model for managing utility-based Account data and processes involving utility usage, rates and charges. It will continue to evolve, as Safari Suite users in partnership with EnSite bring more utilities and utility tariffs into the system.

Don’t get left behind—grow your markets with Safari Suite. We are standing by to incorporate your market footprint into the system that knows how to support your business, your utilities, and the customers you both serve.