Billing and bill collection revolve around data base management – management of meter readings, customer account information and billing records. In that billing is most effective for both the utility and the customer if it occurs on a regular, predictable basis (e.g., the first of every month), billing practices must revolve around those policies and procedures that a utility conducts on a regular interval (monthly, bi-monthly, etc.) to collect and archive customer meter reading information, and generate and mail bills to each of its customers.
Even though billings can be a very personalized process, performed differently by each water utility, the business of billing is very much the same everywhere. For this reason, computer-based tools have been developed to assist water utilities with the common data base management tasks that are a component of all utility billing efforts. In that maintaining consistent electronic files help a water utility with record-keeping, auditing, and reporting, and can reduce systematic data handling errors, best management practices for all utilities should consider the use of computer based programs that support all aspects of billing data archiving, bill production, and bill collection.
In addition, some utilities may wish to forgo or at least reduce the number of bills mailed to customers to reduce operating expenses. In addition, some customers find online bill paying easier and more convenient. In response to these growing interests, online billing programs have been gaining popularity. Therefore, online billing programs may increasingly be worth consideration for most water utilities, as web based commerce grows in popularity and reliability.
The best management practices for billing and bill collection involve the following:
Example Utility Billing Software Providers (Some include meter reading applications and support)