NCIS goes live this weekend (part 1 of 3)

This coming weekend, while we are enjoying the Labor Day holiday, Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU)  plan to finally launch their late, over budget NCIS billing and customer service system. This is the first installment of a 3-part series looking at NCIS, the new customer service and billing system for Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light. This post looks at what will happen during the rollout, what the utilities’ customers will see, and what happened over the last six months to get to this point.

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How NCIS Went Badly Wrong

Thanks to a public disclosure request and some helpful folks at SPU’s public information office, I got copies of the monthly reports of Tim Almond, the QA consultant for the troubled NCIS project. NCIS is the new billing and customer-service IT system for Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities that has been under development for the last two and a half years, and is now a year late and $43 million over their original budget.  Almond’s monthly reports paint a harrowing picture of a project that went wrong early, often, and predictably.

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NCIS hearing: things were learned.

This afternoon the City Council conducted a hearing on the NCIS billing and customer service IT system being co-developed by Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle City Light, and SeattleIT, the city’s newly-consolidated IT department. It was neither the bloodbath I expected, nor was it a font of revelations as to why a $66 million project went $43 million over budget. But if you listened carefully, arranged the puzzle pieces just so, and squinted a little bit, you could make out roughly what happened — and the rough waters ahead.

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NCIS briefing Tuesday afternoon: don’t forget to bring popcorn

Tuesday afternoon, in a joint meeting of two committees, the Council will get briefed by representatives of Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, the newly-formed Department of IT, and an outside consultant on the NCIS billing and customer service IT system that is very late and very over budget. And going by the published materials they have submitted in advance, they have drastically misread the situation and it’s going to be a bloodbath.

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