Utility Automates Customer, Billing Services With Database Management System

Maywood Mutual Water Company, based in Huntington Park, Calif., automated its customer information and billing procedures with a database management system (DBMS) more than five years ago. Since then it has evolved through three generations of the management system, including two DOS versions and the current Windows-based system.

Maywood Mutual Water Company, based in Huntington Park, Calif., automated its customer information and billing procedures with a database management system (DBMS) more than five years ago. Since then it has evolved through three generations of the management system, including two DOS versions and the current Windows-based system.

Today, Maywood Mutual manages, maintains, organizes and retrieves all records on each service (or separate meter connection) in its district, using the DBMS from Dynasty Software of Laguna Hills, Calif.

“Each upgrade has allowed us to smoothly grow to the next level in terms of our customer base and the range of services we can provide,” said Monte Jewett, general manager for Maywood Mutual.

Jewett headed the company’s original search for a DBMS, studying several software systems. At the time, the water company needed to automate the process of reading meters on a monthly basis and issuing invoices to customers. The utility also needed to maintain comprehensive customer data, such as account number, name, address, meter number, usage history, credit history and other information.

The Dynasty DBMS includes more than 300 forms that address different invoicing issues. The software can generate pre-defined billing statements, including “Bill,” which can be formatted as a post card, statement or self-mailer; “Reminder Notice” and “Past Due Notice,” with user-defined penalty percentages or amounts; and “Shutoff Notice,” with payment penalty and reconnection charge. All forms can be created on demand and all of the dates and rules for billing operations are contained in user-defined tables. Examples include date-sensitive rate codes, minimum or maximum bill amounts, shut-off criteria and messages.

There is no practical limit to the number of meters per site or customer that can be tracked, and the system can read a wide variety of meters, including single dial, compound dials, master-sub, reduction and demand.

The Maywood customer information system maintains a data base using Microsoft Access. Information on customers is accessible from a single screen, with major customer data functions represented by “tabbed folders.” The operator calls up data held in the folders with a mouse click.

“All the information is right there,” said Jewett. “The process of accessing information is faster and it is simpler than with previous versions of the software. In addition, our representatives are now able to print from the screen at the moment they are viewing the information.”

The current version of Utility/2000® enables users to choose from a wide selection of predefined reports, all of which are grouped within the functional areas to which they belong (customer address, credit history, history of bill detail, etc.) In addition, the system a built-in Access Report Writer, which allows any user to compose and produce customized reports from any function area or combination of areas. More advanced report writer techniques, including spreadsheet calculations, graphics and analysis, are available by sharing data with Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software.

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