Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Top 15 - Field analysis of Customer Indexing for a Utility Company

GIS based consumer indexing is one of the effective tool to improve the complex network of consumers for the utility company. The complexity of network and minimal baseline data available, the utility needs to take substantial efforts on field to create a strong database of the consumer.

While working with a major water utility in India, some of our observations are listed below. These observations could help in creating a strong database of consumer.

Problems & Resulting Issues:

A) Systemic Problems (arising due to problem in process/system)

  • Background and purpose not clearly defined which is essential for correct inputs and improve the quality of data. 
  • Lack of strong processes and system base implementation for customer indexing
  • Recruitment of low quality people for on-field surveys which leads to lack of presentations skills, confidence, convincing capabilities, etc.
  • No processes for submission of on-field data which results in faulty batching of data and missing of survey forms
  • No regular updates of data (Monthly or Quarterly)
  • Lack of effort estimation and resource allocation which results in exceeding deadlines and duplication of efforts

B) Data Collection Problem (Due to Presentation / Understanding / Customer Support)

  • Wrong plot markings of property polygons in GIS base maps
  • Incomplete information filled by surveyor to achieve the daily target
  • Missed out consumers and properties by surveyors
  • No validation of Consumer Indexing process compliance by surveyors who are doing mistakes on field
  • No continuous tracking of surveyor records and inputs
  • Management of surveyors becomes difficult due to high attrition rate on-field
  • Difficulty in categorizing registered, unregistered and no-connection Consumers 
  • Lower level supervisors tackling the issues arising out of political influence may create unwanted barriers


- Create a strong stakeholder (internal & external) agreement on what is required output of the consumer indexing survey
- One of the most effective ways to ensure high quality of data collected is to emphasize more on re-validation of the data by a field team
- Preliminary survey by taking GIS base map also helps to minimize GIS related issues on-field.
- On-field continuous training and quality monitoring of surveyors which will help minimise mistakes at ground level
- Appropriate costing and effort estimation is required for timely delivery of data
- Frequent updates of data is important which will help resolve to bring consistency in data


A systematic execution of customer indexing creates a whole new intelligence about the local variables. At the same time it can suggest strategic interventions which could be used for creating a positive cash flow for the utility.

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