Welcome EEI/AGA Accounting Conference Attendees! Learn more about the automation solution featured in our presentation here.

Fixed Asset System Transformation at UNS Energy

Challenge:

  1. Implement new Fixed Asset Accounting and Tax System
  2. Increase accounting controls and improve automation
  3. Standardize and simplify systems

Results

  • System implementation completed on time and on budget
  • New tools adopted by property accounting and tax teams

Intro

UNS Energy is the Tucson, Arizona-based parent company of Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and UniSource Energy Services. TEP serves more than 438,000 customers in and around Tucson, while UniSource provides natural gas and electric service to about 265,000 customers in northern and southern Arizona.

UNS partnered with RCC to implement a new Fixed Asset Accounting and Tax system with the underlying goals of increasing accounting controls, improving automation, and eliminating customizations to lower the total cost of ownership over time. 

The challenge

UNS was looking to replace its customized ERP Fixed Asset Accounting system with a more modern, utility-specific solution.  While the UNS team had a strong internal support system, the company had identified a need to standardize and simplify systems in their strategic road map.  The underlying goals for the project were to:

  • Identify and select a best-in-class software solution that fit their unique regulatory needs.
  • Review and align property accounting procedures with industry-best practices by enhancing controls and automating processes as appropriate.
  • Reduce complexity and the overall total cost of ownership by eliminating systematic customizations.
  • Minimize reliance on UNS-unique system knowledge to support the application.

After identifying these needs in their strategic plan, UNS selected RCC as a trusted advisor to assess the unique requirements, build a business case, and implement the actual solution.  The same group of consultants both performed the assessment and implemented the overall solution.

TEP UniSource Fixed Asset System Implementation

Beginning the Journey

Instead of jumping right into another implementation, the UNS Property Accounting, IT Support, Tax, and RCC teams came together through a series of cross-departmental workshops over a six-week period to identify and document the true functional and technical challenges facing each of the groups and came up with a plan that identified measurable opportunities for improvement.  This initial assessment highlighted the issues faced and the business value to be achieved.  UNS’s openness and ability to communicate clear goals for the remainder of the project was key to the success of the assessment phase.  This transparency allowed RCC to make recommendations and identify key requirements for the project and support the need with hard-dollar savings through additional tax deductions driven by new system processes.

Staying on course

Once the journey had been charted, the team embarked on a nine-month expedition to decommission the legacy ERP Fixed Asset Accounting system and replace it with an industry-best tool.  UNS and RCC worked together to drill down a level from the initial assessment and define accounting processes that fit their unique regulatory requirements.  After clearly defining process needs, UNS and RCC used and leveraged a RACI model to clearly define roles and responsibilities post go-live.  The RACI approach helped management ensure the project accounting and fixed asset teams functioned as one finely tuned unitizing and depreciating machine after go-live.  Furthermore, one of the key assessment recommendations was for the UNS team to become more proactive with internal controls instead of reviewing queries and logs after the fact.  As such, the teams leveraged system-delivered tools such as Automated Reviews, Alerts, and Validations to improve overall efficiency and control of data.  In addition to only utilizing base product configurations to drive automation, RCC worked with UNS to build all integrations with external systems in preferred middleware technology that called base system APIs.  This greatly simplified ongoing support and reduced complexity for future technical upgrades.

The results

The new system implementation was completed on time and on budget while delivering on all key recommendations identified in the initial assessment.  The same RCC consultants that worked with UNS on formulating the initial assessment and project plan stayed on throughout project and post go-live support period to ensure the new tools were adopted by the property accounting and tax teams.  

Ultimately, the solution was utilized for over four years with minimal support costs, and, when the time came for a technical upgrade required due to database obsolescence, UNS was ready. They again selected RCC to support them in this endeavor.  However, this time the technical upgrade was only a six-month project and cost significantly less than the prior ERP system upgrade, allowing UNS to achieve its lower cost of ownership over time goal.

“It was a pleasure working with RCC on the UNS Power Plan Fixed Assets software implementation and upgrade project.  The RCC team members assigned to the project brought valuable experience both from a technical and from a business user perspective.  The ability to work through business processes and apply that level of industry-specific experience was invaluable.  RCC support staff really listened to our requests and also offered suggestions and recommendations when appropriate. Having worked with RCC on our original implementation and being able to reach back out for a later upgrade in addition to having the same team members on both the original implementation and subsequent upgrade made the latter nearly effortless.” – Christine Cuevas – Manager Plant Accounting

Consultants

Our experts are ready to find opportunities for improvement specific to your company and systems.

Joel Sechler

[email protected]

Andrew Scott

[email protected]