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City of Carmel’s Scott Campbell has the best advice for your utility SaaS project

It’s no secret that Scott Campbell, Manager of Customer Service and Billing for Carmel Utilities, is one of our favorite people; we have written—and video recorded—lots of moments with Scott since his utility become an ESC Partners customer a few short years ago.

Beyond just being a complete delight of a human being, though, Scott has some great wisdom to share as the City of Carmel moves from planning to go live and beyond to the support and service phases of their Oracle Customer Cloud Service (CCS) implementation that we’re pairing with our own ESC Application Managed Services (AMS) and our customer portal ESC Hometown Hub (HUB).

Scott joined other utilities and municipalities putting in cloud-based projects at the recent Oracle Energy & Water’s Customer Edge conference in Austin. During the session, he covered everything from using AI to aggregate information and scrub their database to how their utility—and all other utilities—are facing a changing customer with new and growing data requests and communication requirements.

Here are the top four advice tidbits from Scott’s talk that you can apply to your utility’s SaaS project.

  • Be cognizant and flexible with timing. While the project, once complete, will bring you a lot of time savings with future endeavors, you may need to invest a little more time upfront while planning and putting that plan into place with your system implementor (SI). You really can’t expect them to know your system as well as you do or understand all the daily ins and out with one chat or sit-down. You have to invest your own time in this project, too, and understand that times and deadlines are tentative and may change with issues uncovered or new problems to tackle.
  • Forget about what you’ve done in the past. We all get caught up in that sunk cost fallacy—whether the cost was time or effort or actual money—but the best way to move forward with your SaaS endeavor is to come in with a clean thought process, no “we always did this” or “we do it this way” or even “this is the right way to do it.” You have to let go of old processes and concepting even if they served you well in the past. It’s a new project on a new day. Come to it with a fresh and open mind.
  • Start your data conversion early. In fact, the earlier you can start, the better off you will be, according to Scott. It’s going to be a tedious process. There’s going to be some slogging and extra effort required. There will be sticking points. So, get on top of that as soon as you possibly can. And then stay on top of it. While a SaaS model is more proactive and less reactive than traditional approaches, it takes a lot of prep—and 99% of that around the data.
  • Trust your system implementor, the software, and the process. Recognizing that it can be difficult to give up the lead position on projects that dig into and change the very fundamentals of your job, Scott asks that you remember why you chose your SI in the first place and why you started this project in the first place. And then, breathe deep and let go. Realize that your place in this project isn’t as scout but as support.

“We came from an on-prem situation we’d been part of for 20 years,” he told the packed room. “We really needed to change our utility fundamentally. My advice to other utilities: Trust your SI. Trust their experience. ESC has never let us down. Everything they said they would do, they did.”

When Scott revealed later in the session that Carmel had their go live with zero customizations, the room applauded. He added, “It’s great. We don’t have to do anything. By following all those points and going along with CCS’s best practices and ESC’s support methodology, things don’t break. That’s one of the best benefits. In fact, we just did an upgrade, and we didn’t even notice.”

The moderator joked that Scott’s applause moment was the hit of the gathering. “That’s the quote of the session,” she said. “Move to the cloud so you don’t have to do anything.”


This article is part of the 2024 #summerofSaaS content series.


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