How we Developed a Custom Incentive Management System for an Energy Rebate Company to Keep Up with Their Changing Business Environment
An energy rebate company, which provides incentive fulfillment services to utility clients throughout the United States, needed to respond to their clients’ increasing and ever-changing business requests.
However, their internally developed incentive management system had become unwieldy and costly with annual updates to these systems taking anywhere from three to nine months. Everything was customized, so it took time to modify.
The client’s competitors started to gain some of their market share because of their inability to make these updates in a more efficient and timely manner. While previous attempts to replace their legacy systems failed, they knew they had to respond to this situation by changing the way they do business.
As a result, they decided to create a new incentive management system that took the process from paper to an online version. This led to the need for a custom solution.
Enter Centric: A Paperless, Incentive Management System Build to Solve Market Share Concern
The client partnered with Centric Consulting’s Boston office to initially focus on three areas:
- Develop a replacement system for the existing incentive management system.
- Assist with moving some existing and new clients – and end customers – onto this new system.
- Support the overall transformation effort to reduce operational and IT costs in this business by reducing the overall time it takes to process a rebate.
Together with the client, we decided to focus on creating a standard system with standard program rules and business values, rather than trying to recreate everything they had in their current system and process. We built the functionality and worked to get it to market.
We formed an agile team consisting of team members with cross-functional expertise in project management, testing, coding and design from our Software Development and Innovation Studio in Columbus and our India office. We applied our highly collaborative agile approach to ensure that business needs would be met while building the new incentive management system.
Our agile team adopted a cadence of two-week sprints and began building and testing the highest priority features. After each sprint, a few team members would travel to the client to interview business users and stakeholders to gauge how it was working. The client user group also had new features to review every two weeks.
The business product owner, who led the client team, used feedback from reviews to continually identify and reset priorities on the features to ensure the team developed the highest value features next.
The Result: A New System and Process with Faster Updates
Our approach to the partnership built trust among all the teams, users and leaders involved in the project because the focus remained on business value. Together, we created a new incentive management system that leads to efficient, timely processing and billing of rebate applications.
Throughout the project, the client also realized additional value beyond the operational system capabilities it delivered:
- Because of our agile approach, which provides continuous feedback and experimentation, the system was built incrementally. This allowed the client to see, approve and apply new features every two weeks while we worked on building the software. They also were able to keep using an earlier version for one of their largest clients, while updating features for new clients.
- By moving to a web form, they significantly cut down their training cycle from days to hours and are able to quickly add or modify energy rebate fields based on requests and needs.
The new incentive management system sets up our client for success as they head in to the future. Even in an ever-changing business environment, changes to the legacy system that previously took months are now handled through real-time configuration and business rule updates, allowing them to keep up with their clients’ constant requests for updates.
And this is just the start of our partnership. The experience does not end with the life of a project.
Our India team has continued to work with the client to create new features that further advance the platform. We’re also supporting the system through our managed services capabilities.