Guide to Buying DSM Tracking Systems
Advice from Micheal Stockard, who while working at a utility was tasked with acquiring the services of a DSM platform.
Identifying Your Organizations Needs
- What are the essential functions that you want the system to perform? Manage customer applications/process payments/interface with other systems etc.
- Write the requirements for work-flows that streamline and simplify operations.
Develop the Business Case
- Identify your current costs in IT systems or FTEs in how you manage and track your DSM programs.
- Review your Company’s IT investment business case policy and document your needs before starting the procurement process. The approval process should review the cost-benefit analysis to identify pros and cons.
Create Vendor List
- Identify potential vendors – you can accomplish this through a simple internet search/contacting counterparts at other utilities/trade shows. Get an idea of the capabilities of each vendor, who their current clients are and what services they are providing.
Sole Source vs Request For Proposal/Qualifications (RFP/RFQ)
- Whether you have decided to award the project to a single vendor or send it out for bids, you should have a very detailed set of business and functionality requirements to send them.
- Have a small multidisciplinary proposal review team consisting of DSM program subject matter experts, procurement experts and IT specialists to review evaluate proposals consistently.
- Oral presentations given by those you will be moving to the final offer round is helpful so you can drill deeper into the solution proposed.
Selecting Your Vendor
- By this time, you should have a good feel for which proposal best fits your needs. Start negotiating with your preferred vendor, but have the other vendors waiting in the wings if you cannot reach an agreement.
- Allow the procurement professional to take the lead during negotiations while DRM experts answer questions about items specific to the tracking solution.
- After the contract has been signed, an internal meeting should be held where roles and responsibilities for each of your team members are outlined.
- Then host a project kick-off meeting with all parties where detailed notes of the meeting should be taken along with assignment of action items.
- At the completion of the development stage, you will move to user acceptance testing. Be conscious that you will probably go live with a list of to-do items usually because business requirements change or other related issues.
- In the last stage of the buying process, your will need to monitor the specified benchmarks in order ensure the system is operating according to the agreement. Frequent meetings with the vendor and your team are important.
Keep focused on the overarching business objective of implementing this system that will enhance your program operations. You will encounter problems along the way and how you respond to these situations will set the stage for the success.
For the past ten years, I have been associated with ANB systems and am familiar with their products and services. I have found that the eTrack+ platform to be an extremely flexible and powerful tool in the management of demand-side management portfolios. Additionally, their team is committed to the success of their clients.