Effective billing and collection systems are a critical component for ensuring the viability of a service provider. Improving billing and collection activities has an immediate impact on the revenue streams of a service provider that can, in turn, help the service provider in improving services. However, while effective billing and collection practices depend on many internal factors (including customer databases, the extent of metered and unmetered service provision, tariff and billing structures, delivery of bills, and facilities for customer payments), the institutional arrangements under which service providers operate and provide services determine whether such practices will remain sustainable in the long term. Efficient billing and collection practices can set incentives for the provider to effectively charge and collect water bills while also fulfilling a commercial orientation to services Most water utilities and service providers are under severe financial strain, with insufficient funds for routine maintenance, replacement, and expansion. Poor financial health is a result of a number of factors including inefficient operations, poor levels and/or absence of metering, poor billing and collection practices, poor structure and levels of water tariffs, increased and inefficient operational costs, and weak management. Billing and collection systems hence are critical for ensuring financial sustainability and for achieving cost recovery, especially if a service provider is looking to expand services and improve the equity of service provision .
1.1 Theoretical Background
The technologies used to implement the system are Visual Basic 6.0 programming language and Microsoft Access 2003 database. The programming language is used to create an interface that would be used to capture and compute water billing details and the information can be saved to the database for future retrieval. For instance, the source code below is used to query for bill records of customers using Adodc data control that is linked to the database by next due date for billing or by account number.
Private Sub Command1_Click()
Adodc3.Recordset.Filter = “NEXT_DUE_DATE_FOR_BILLING ='” & Text1.Text & “‘”
Private Sub Command3_Click()
Adodc3.Recordset.Filter = “ACCOUNT_NO ='” & Text2.Text & “‘”
Fig 1.1: Query form for existing records
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The following problems were identified to be faced by water billing companies like Akwa Ibom water company:
The aim of the study is to design and implement automated water billing utility service system. The following are the objectives of the study to realize the aim:
The significance of the study is that it will provide a more accurate and reliable approach to the computation of water bills as well as the storage and retrieval of bill records of consumers. The study will also serve as a useful reference material for other researchers seeking related information on water billing.
This study covers the design and implementation of automated water billing utility service, a case study of Akwa Ibom state water company.
1.6 Organization of the Research
This research work is organized into five chapters. Chapter one is concerned with the introduction of the research study and it presents the preliminaries, theoretical background, statement of the problem, aim and objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study, organization of the research and definition of terms.
Chapter two focuses on the literature review, the contributions of other scholars on the subject matter is discussed.
Chapter three is concerned with the system analysis and design. It presents the research methodology used in the development of the system, it analyzes the present system to identify the problems and provides information on the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed system. The system design is also presented in this chapter.
Chapter four presents the system implementation and documentation, the choice of programming language, analysis of modules, choice of programming language and system requirements for implementation.
Chapter five focuses on the summary, constraints of the study, conclusion and recommendations are provided in this chapter based on the study carried out.
Bill – a written statement of how much money is owed for items purchased or services provided.
System – a collection of related parts working together to achieve a particular goal.
Revenue – money that comes into business from the sales of goods or services
Tariff – a list of fees, fares or other prices charged by a business.DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AUTOMATED WATER BILLING UTILITY SERVICE