At ARDEM, we consistently strive to exceed our client’s expectations. This was the goal when we were contacted by an ESG data management company that provides software solutions for the commercial real estate industry and was looking for a reliable partner who could help them with high-volume utility bill processing.
This client is one of the world’s leading ESG software providers, collecting utility information to provide advanced analytics including investment-grade sustainability data for corporate and commercial real estate. Their primary goals are achieved by tracking every client’s in-house ESG (environmental, social, governance) data to yield average metrics for long-term sustainability reporting.
The Scope of Work for Utility Bill Processing
At first glance, the task seemed simple, the client required help with processing the incoming utility bills that are received daily as PDFs. However, as we probed further to truly gauge the client’s current mode of functioning and processing needs, our team realized that the task was not quite as straightforward as it initially seemed.
As mentioned above, the primary task was to process the incoming number of utility invoices received every day, which entailed a minimum volume of 20,000 utility bills received on a daily basis. Before proceeding to how we managed this task, let’s take a look at the current challenges of processing utility bills.
The Current Challenges of Utility Bill Processing
A utility bill is actually a highly-detailed document that serves as an invoice for monthly utility consumption whether it be water, waste, gas or power. The monthly bill serves as a record of the no. of units consumed and the charges due for the same. However, apart from its primary objective to collect monthly dues for services or utilities delivered, the utility bill also serves as a tracking document, containing vital data points that help companies track, among other things, the average consumption. This data is used to formulate further strategies for smarter utility and energy management.
While these utility bills for both individual households and companies are quite similar in structure, utility bills for commercial entities contain considerably more charges and accounts to monitor. A single utility bill can also be defined as a string of data comprising up to 20 different fields that are captured at the utility meter level.
After exploring the nature and purpose of processing utility bills, let’s now take a look at the challenges of processing commercial utility bills for the task at hand. Our team will be receiving and processing thousands of different utility bill formats:
- Each unique format needs to be mapped.
- Each data field has to be identified off the bill in order to accurately extract the data within the desired turnaround time.
- The incoming bills are global. This means that: Bills can be received from different countries all over the world.
- These bills will be in different languages, currencies, and usage units.
- This will require a fully trained and experienced team to ensure accuracy, speed and quality.
Managing Exceptions and Errors
Apart from the challenges of processing varied utility bills in varied formats and units, our team also had to come up with a plan to deal with exceptions and errors.
Occasionally while processing utility bills, we will come across an exception or an error that needs to be checked and corrected. These exceptions or errors will be noted down and logged for
the client and will be managed accordingly after being assigned an error code.
- Ex. New bill ->mark with error code and request mapping file
- Ex. Is it missing some of the required fields? -> Mark with error code
The Proposed Solution
Therefore, as stated above, the task was not a simple one and required deep industry knowledge and experience to ensure swift and accurate processing and delivery of data in real-time.
After in-depth study and evaluation, ARDEM formulated the following solution for Utility Bill Processing:
- A mapping file of every vendor is provided and then diligently studied by our team, currently, we have over 3,000 utility providers mapped out.
- Utility bills that are received in different languages are coded to make note of the different currencies and process data accordingly.
- The usage data is further coded on the basis of type and unit of measure. For example, Electric, Unit: kWh, etc.
We further code and sort the data as per the different types of services including:
- Natural Gas
All the data from incoming utility bills is extracted and entered into a CSV. file using the mapping system provided so that the client can easily upload the file into their system.
Once data has been extracted, it is delivered as a CSV. file every 1-2 business days to ensure that the client gets access to their data at the earliest.
At ARDEM, we believe in building long-term partnerships for long-lasting success. Our aim with this project, as it is with every one of our projects, is to truly understand our client’s goal and devise a solution that helps them reach it.
Using cloud-based technology like the ARDEM Utility Manager, we try to make our processes as transparent as possible while making it easier for our clients to communicate with their remote team and update their work instructions in real-time.
If you are looking for a trustworthy partner who can help you process your utility data more efficiently or have more questions about how ARDEM can help you achieve your goals, please reach out to us for a free consultation today.