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Water Billing IT Solutions Company Business Plan Report (Assessment)

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Executive Summary

The proposed business plan entails exploiting a business opportunity identified in the UAE for the water supply companies that have consistently experiencing billing and collection problems. Taking billing and collection as a business opportunity, the company aims to provide outsourced services using modern information systems applications and other digital devices to collect billing data that can be used to bill customers. The goal is to increase the performance and improve the revenue stream by 45% for each year in the next three years. It is projected that the business plan will be effective in the provision of the products and services mentioned in the business plan.

Introduction: Reason/Rationale

The entire country of the UAE provides a wide market for the provision of billing and collection services. Studies show that the UAE has several companies that provide water for domestic use and other industrial applications as well as billing and collection services. Because of the large number of companies that operate in the industry, the billing and collection company aims to address the existing market segment of domestic users of water in the UAE. This provides a wide market opportunity that resonates well with the strategy that shows a significant positive correlation with external, internal, and dynamic consistency. This is in line with the principles of marketing as detailed by (Armstrong, Adam, Denize, and Kotler 2014). An increase in revenue stream is projected to occur in the first year through the provision of billing services.

General Company Description

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company undertakes the billing and collection of water bills for different companies that outsource their services to the company in the UAE. The rationale is to ensure that efficient water billing and collection services lead to the better commercial orientation of services that could enable the water supply companies to receive sustainability and higher returns on investment in the long term. It is imperative to note that billing in the UAE takes a long time to effect as well as the poor collection of bills has adverse effects on the financial operations of the companies. To work towards achieving the objectives of the water supply companies, the Water Billing IT Solutions Company has invested in current information technology applications that store client information in a database and can generate records in time on the customer billing status every month. That could lead to better performance, high operational efficiency such as a significant reduction in billing, customer efficiency, improved tariff setting, reduction in water leakages, enhanced billing procedures, robust record-keeping, enhanced procedures in customer database updates, and advising staff to accurately bills the services and provide other services more diligently.

The company uses current information technology tools that enable effective and accurate service delivery.

Vision

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company’s vision is to be the best and reliable company in the provision of computerized billing operations where companies can find and discover the best billing services in the UAE.

Mission

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company’s mission is to provide accurate and reliable billing and collection services for water supply companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). That could reduce the frequently experienced billing errors, increase the viability of the provision of water to the population, and improve the revenue streams of the water companies as envisaged by (Armstrong, Adam, Denize, and Kotler 2014). The operating philosophy is the provision of better and high-quality services using highly trained and educated employees at competitive prices.

Objective

Implement computerized water billing solutions for our clients to increase performance and enhance the revenue stream by 45% in the first year.

Values

  • Provision of high quality customer-centric computerized services
  • Offer high-quality computerized billing service operations that support the service providers’ objectives of better and increased revenue stream

Company organization chart

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company has a lean management team with the positions filled by experienced and knowledgeable professionals who serve the company at different levels of expertise. At the top is the director, Mr. Mohammed who directs the operations of the company. The lower levels are filled by line administrators, IT support, and clerks.

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company Organizational chart.

Product & Services

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company provides accurate and reliable automated water billing and collection services for water supply companies operating in the UAE. According to Armstrong, Adam, Denize, and Kotler (2014), the company’s products and services include contact database with customer tagging, new client compatibility search, water supply, and sales analytical reports, project management, and marketing campaigns.

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company seeks to enable the water supply companies in the UAE to increase their revenue streams by providing up to date and accurate data on the level of water consumption, the number of people connected to the water supply points, and the volume of water consumed using current and top-notch information systems. Also, the company intends to improve the billing and collection practices by improving the levels and structure of water tariffs as well as using improved equity service provision that is done by reducing the collection to one month using computerized real-time services. Besides, the company provides software access for residents by use of security codes defined by residents, online payment services once a person has been registered, supports e-bills, and the ability to view the billing history if required.

The company provides software access to community managers based on company policy to enable them to access information on late notices, generate reports on water consumption levels, and collect information on those consumers who move in and out of specific premises. Being an IT-based company, the use of software provides the ability to keep track of financial transactions, payments made and due, and reflection of late date payments. It is also possible to provide the community managers and other residents with online login information as well as retrieval information and other necessary account data. The other service that is provided on the online platform includes on-site payments, the use of phones to check customer balance and make payments, and the use of credit cards to make online payments. It is possible to conduct different classes of billing transactions such as unlimited billable charges, vacant cost recovery, sub-metered billing, and Convergent billing, and Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) products and services.

Market/Industry Analysis

The provision of water billing services to water supply companies could lead to better commercial and operational efficiency. In the UAE, many companies supply water for domestic use to households. Examples include the Dulsco, which provides 4500/5000 imperial gallon tankers, Globalex Transport LLC for irrigation purposes, and the Abdulla Subaih Drainage Services and Water Distribution Company that focuses on clean water supply among several other companies. Water production and supply has increased by 5% while the water demand has been increasing by 7% up to and including 2016. There is a projected increase in demand for the provision of water in the future. Underling the increasing water demand is the demand for efficient and effective provision of billing and collection services to the water supply companies. This is because the UAE Regulation and Supervision Bureau of the UAE has enacted regulations that guide the provision of better water service delivery to the people in terms of availability of water which is driven on the need for better billing services.

An assessment of the number of companies offering billing services indicates that DEWA offers services in the utility bills for water and electricity, Ista provides billing services in chilled water and convenient billing of consumption data. However, the billing process is ridden with errors and other problems that lead to inefficient water billing and poor supply of the commodity.

Marketing Strategy and Implementation

Pricing

In practice, the Water Billing IT Solutions Company will enable a strong appeal for the billing and collection services for both the water supply companies and the customers. According to Hollensen (2015), pricing is one of the strategies to use for competitive advantage. The service provider will be priced appropriately and competitively to enhance performance and provide high-quality services. Among the service attributes are the ability to collect, receive, and store electronic data in real-time and enable the effective management and extraction of customized comprehensive monthly billing reports and information. The strategy could competitively position the company among rivals that provide similar services. Besides, the strategy could enable the company to make appropriate and competitive business process decisions. In conclusion, consideration of creating a competitive advantage must be achieved by pricing the services competitively, investing and using new technologies, employing well educated and experienced personnel, and creating a strong brand name among the companies that outsource the billing and collection services for companies that supply water for domestic use.

Use of Technology

In theory, different marketing strategies exist that can be used to address the marketing problem. Hollensen (2015) views the most appropriate strategy in this case to be the use of technology that leads to value creation through better service delivery. The approach enables customer willingness to pay for the services at low opportunity costs and leads to value creation by both the outsourcing company which supplies water to domestic consumers and the billing and collection company (Baker 2014). It is projected that the customers that are outsourcing water supply companies will value the services against competing firms that provide similar billing and collection services.

Besides the use of pricing and information systems technologies, the company plans to create a website that provides details of the services that it provides as well as the pricing mechanism and service provision and performance projections. Besides, web-based billing and payments will be adopted as a strategy to competitively position the company in the market thought the provision of quality assurance programs and robust phone hours for real-time communication to address customer complaints.

Compliance

The other approach is to ensure compliance with the legislation of the government of the UAE about the provision of billing and collection services. According to Barthel and Vignal (2014), this could provide information on additional costs, the need for customized reports, and encouraging customers to become loyal to the company through the provision of incentives. Also, the company endeavors to decrease customer services for the same services and compare it with competing firms.

Power Shit to Customers

Modern marketing approaches are trained towards the power shit to customers who have the power and ability to manipulate businesses via information systems that make them access information in real-time. Hollensen (2015) notes that this could allow customers to make suggestions of their prices, which could enable the Water Billing IT Solutions Company to compare the pricing and quality of services and revise them competitively.

The rationale is to ensure operational efficiency that addresses customer needs and expectations through the use of information systems to deliver value to the customers. Service leadership will be ensured by the use of the accurate and responsive software and information systems that the technicians will constantly work with to improve and monitor its performance. Besides that, the company continuously collects information on what the competitors have to offer to stay ahead of others and capture a greater share of the market.

Use of Market Characteristics

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company endeavors to align the competitive strategy with competitive positioning based on the market characteristics. Among the service positioning strategies are building new service delivery and better brand equity. Brand equity will be based on positive brand associations, brand love, awareness, and brand preferences. However, having focused on companies that provide water for domestic consumers, the company will factor the market demographics which includes both high and low-income consumers who have experienced the persistent problem of poor performance billing and collections (Hollensen 2015). Despite the availability of companies that provide the billing and collection operations services, the Water Billing IT Solutions Company will add value through the use of modern information systems that provide data acquisition, storage, and retrieval services in real-time.

Cause marketing will be used as another driver of the proposed marketing strategy because the company will endeavor to address the billing and collection problems that have persistently lead to poor and incorrect billing, collections, and leakages. Besides, the company will use the relationship marketing strategy by use of incentive-based referrals which includes the provision of free services within a given period as well as through the use of commissions for the water supply companies. It is projected that 20% of referrals, in this case, will translate into 80% of the business for the specific market of water suppliers for domestic use. It will lead to better customer focus based on the marketing metrics which include high levels of awareness, increased profitability, increased loyalty, and an increase in customer lifetime values, customer, and employee satisfaction.

Implementation

A specific implementation plan will be based on the core business growth strategy and objectives. The marketing strategy will be implemented so that it positively affects both the internal and external marketing environments. One approach will be through the commitment and knowledge of the employees. Another approach will be to use specific messages tailored to communicate the marketing plan through specific channels such as social media. It is imperative to ensure that the marketing strategy will be implemented to ensure the manageability of the messages and other tools that take information to the customers. The goal will be on customer focus, performance monitoring, and timely acquisition of data.

Research and Development Plan

The Water Billing IT Solutions Company will invest in the latest water billing and collection technologies as they are rolled out into the market. A team will be constituted that consists of the technical staff, marketing manager, and the management along with their resume showing their specific expertise on research and development. According to Fayolle and Liñán (2014), the R&D objective should be aligned with the business strategy and objectives, the technical staff will be required to regularly report to the management on new technologies that are secure, interactive, easy to use, and reliable. Besides, the management will identify key alliances, linkages, and collaborators in the R&D area and the underlying problems that the technologies will be designed to solve. The overall goal is to provide effective service delivery at the lowest cost possible. Data management and communication software will be the key areas to focus on in the R&D.

Operational Plan

Here, using a transaction processing system and other integrated application software, the management, technical staff, and other resources, the company will be able to collect, modify, store, and generate daily reports and data on real-time transactions for execution and billing purposes (Luostarinen & Gabrielsson 2006). The company’s operational plan is to get in touch with the outsourcing firms on an application-level platform the enables real-time communication between the companies (Hollensen 2015). This is consistent with the business strategy, objectives, and goals of providing services to companies that outsource their services to the Water Billing IT Solutions Company. It is imperative to ensure that the services will be provided at the lowest possible costs, in real-time, and effectively. The rationale is that the application is flexible, reliable, enables controlled processing, and provides fast response which includes a better performance with rapid results.

Table 1.

Description
Ninche
Marketing strategy
Marketing promotions
Advertising services
Budget for promotions
Training and development
Pricing
Tactical objective
Business strategy
Action plan

Financial Analysis

This is based on the following assumptions:

  1. Each employee will work permanently
  2. The company’s profitability will be based on

Table 2.

Liabilities and Capital
Liabilities
Current Borrowing $0
Long-term Liabilities $0
Accounts Payable (Outstanding Bills) $600
Other Current Liabilities (interest-free) $0
Total Liabilities $700
Capital
Total Planned Investment $115,100
Loss at Start-up (Start-up Expenses) ($4,750)
Total Capital $110,450
Total Capital and Liabilities $110,950
Total Funding $115,600

As shown in Table 2, the Accounts Payable (Outstanding Bills) is $600 while the total liabilities are $700. The total planned investment amounts to $115,100 while the Loss at Start-up (Start-up Expenses) amounts to $4,750. Also, the total capital is $110,450 while the total capital and liabilities amount to $110, 950, which leads to total funding of $115,600.

Start-up Costs

Table 3.

Non-cash Assets from Start-up $3,100
Cash Requirements from Start-up $107,950
Additional Cash Raised $0
Cash Balance on Starting Date $107,950
Total Assets $110,950
Start-up Funding
Start-up Expenses to Fund $4,850
Start-up Assets to Fund $111,050
Total Funding Required $115,700

Table 3 provides a detailed account of the non-cash assets from the start-up of $3,100 with the cash requirements from start-up totaling $107,950 and the cash balance on the starting date is $107,950. The value of the total assets is $110,950 with start-up expenses to fund being $111,050 and the al funding required being $115,700.

Funds Breakdown

The startup capital which includes the salaries for the employees is projected to be $ 50,000 and an office rent of $2000. Hardware devices such as computers and other data collection devices are projected to cost $8000 and the software will cost $10,800. The balance from the $115,700 of the total funding required could go to maintenance and other accruing expenses. Besides, additional funds will be required for the advertisement and marketing that is estimated to be $7500.

Working Capital Requirements

Because it will be necessary for the company to address the working capital requirements, which include accounts receivable that are based on the estimated revenue, it is imperative to base it on a specific period. In this case, it will be based on a one-year revenue model and a provision of 45 credit terms for the customers, the working capital could be determined as follows.

  1. Accounts receivable = 45 x 282,500 / 365
  2. Accounts receivable = 34, 828
  3. Accounts receivable % = (34,828 / 282,500) ×100% = 12.328%

This means that at any time, the working capital requirements if credit is offered to the customers on 45 days should be $ 282,500. Credit means in this case that the customers can ask for a delay in payments, which indicates that the revenue stream will increase rapidly if the billing and collection procedure is done using the current and high-performance billing information systems. However, in this case, there will not be any need for working capital inventory because of the nature of the services being offered.

The Net Working Capital Requirement can be determined by combining the accounts payable, receivable, and inventory working capital requirements. This leads to Networking capital requirement = Accounts receivable+ Inventory – Accounts payable. That could lead to a 13.9% networking capital. However, if the terms of service provision to the water companies are extended so that the billing period is increased by 45 days more, then, the networking capital requirements could increase by 41.1%.

Sales Forecast

It is expected that the sales forecast for the company will increase rapidly because of the demand for billing and collection services for water supply companies in the UAE. An increase in sales revenue has been projected in able 4, which is in line with the business strategy and objective of the company.

Table 4: Sales forecast.

Sales Forecast
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Sales
Consulting fee $19,000 $245,000 $550,000
Other $0 $0 $0
Total Sales $19,000 $250,000 $550,000
Direct Cost Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Consulting services $2,340 $46,800 $77,220
Other $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Cost of Sales $2,340 $76,800 $87,220

The company expects the sales level to remain high so that it can expand and provide billing services throughout the UAE. The rationale is that the demand for services in the water billing industry that are reliable and accurate is high and expanding to meet the demand is one of the goals that the company intends to meet.

Marketing Budget

Marketing is seen as one of the appropriate tools that the company will use to reach a wide range of customer audiences and cut a niche on the market. Marketing takes many forms. However, the company intends to use social media, newspaper adverts, and radio commercials. The approach will be aligned with the market scope strategy, product and services distribution strategy, and the service promotion strategy. The marketing budget gave the above statements totals to $ 7500. However, depending on the demand and other changes in the budget and advertising expenses, the budget will be revised again and again. A lean budget of $ 7500 will be used for promotional purposes using print and electronic media.

Income Statement

Income will be generated from the water billing and collection services while expenditure will be incurred in terms of the operational costs (Kotler, Keller, Ancarani & Costabile 2014). Operational costs arise due to traveling within the jurisdiction of the water supply companies, communication costs that are incurred through phone calls, and vehicle maintenance costs. Other costs arise as a result of utilities especially water and electricity besides rental expenses, tax for compliance reasons, and investment in research and development.

Breakeven Analysis

It is estimated that the break-even units that could make the business viable can be calculated as follows.

Table 5.

Break-Even Point
Break-Even Units (X) X = TFC / (P – V) 101 units
Break-Even Sales (S) S = X * P = TFC / CMR $ 1,188.12

Table 5 shows that for a business that is consistent with the business strategy and objective that have been outlined in the paper, the company will provide outsourced services to more than or equal to 101 units to make the business economically business viable (Wild, Wild & Han 2014). It implies that the 101 units mentioned above that the company services include the specific market segments and each segment has a specific number of customers. For a break-even point to be reached, the sales volume must be equal to $ 1,188.12 as captured in figure 1.

break-even point.
Figure 1: break-even point.

Cash Flow Projections

The projected cash flow of the period in business shows a positive trend and will be generated from the billing and collection services. Besides, the cash flow is projected to increase significantly because of an increase in the customer base and market share. The complete statement is in the appendix.

Performa Profit and Loss Statements

It is estimated that the company’s revenue will increase and hit the $1,060,595 market at the end of the third year. This implies that it will take three years of service to hit the revenue mark. It is important to note that the profits will increase as well as the operating costs because of the increase in the size of the market as well as the costs of operating in a larger market share.

Performa Balance Sheet

The Performa balance sheet indicates the projected future performance in terms of revenue of the company based on the latest financial statement. It is imperative to note that the revenue is estimated to increase by 45% as per the objective of the company.

Financial Ratios

The company bases its financial ratios on the return on assets, the profit margin, the price/earnings ratio, and the gross profit margin.

Risks and Contingencies Plan

According to Ahmed, Capretz, Sandhu, and Raza (2014), the risks associated with the business include the market trend where rapid changes can be due to war that is destructive. However, such a risk can only be ameliorated through insurance.

Timeline

Action area Action time (2016)
Drawing business plan January
Office space February
Staffing and training March
Installation of applications and testing April
Marketing strategy and campaigns May/June
Billing and collections June/December

Five-year Plan

  1. Increase the customer base by 90% of the total market share.
  2. Integrate various IT solutions to improve the billing and collection performance
  3. Offer both online and phone-based billing and revenue collection to the customers.

Exit Plan

When the operations show a declining revenue stream, the company will implement an exit strategy which includes establishing new collaborations and selling company shares to exit from the market.

Conclusion

It is worth noting that the business plan provides a feasible business idea that could lead to revenue generation and better service delivery. However, prospective customers will be reached through social media as well as electronic and print media to increase the market share and create a strong brand name.

Reference List

Armstrong, G., Adam, S., Denize, S. and Kotler, P., 2014. Principles of marketing. Pearson Australia.

Ahmed, F., Capretz, L.F., Sandhu, M.A. and Raza, A., 2014. Analysis of risks faced by information technology offshore outsourcing service providers. IET Software, 8(6), pp.279-284.

Armstrong, G., Adam, S., Denize, S. and Kotler, P., 2014. Principles of marketing. Pearson Australia.

Baker, M.J., 2014. Marketing strategy and management. Palgrave Macmillan.

Barthel, P.A. and Vignal, L., 2014. Arab Mediterranean Megaprojects after the’Spring’: Business as Usual or a New Beginning?. Built Environment, 40(1), pp.52-71.

Fayolle, A. and Liñán, F., 2014. The future of research on entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Business Research, 67(5), pp.663-666.

Hollensen, S., 2015. Marketing management: A relationship approach. Pearson Education.

Kotler, P., Keller, K.L., Ancarani, F. and Costabile, M., 2014. Marketing management 14/e. Pearson.

Luostarinen, R. and Gabrielsson, M., 2006. Globalization and marketing strategies of born globals in SMOPECs. Thunderbird International Business Review, 48(6), pp.773-801.

Wild, J., Wild, K.L. and Han, J.C., 2014. International business. Pearson Education Limited.

Appendices: Statistics, Tables, Figures, Pictures, YouTube etc.…

Cash flow

Water Billing IT Solutions Company
The Three Year Cash Flow Projection
INITIAL YEAR ONE YEAR TWO YEAR THREE
STARTING CASH
Cash at Start of Period $0 $500,000 $276,005 $360,130
CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATIONS
+ Revenues from Sales $1,245,000 $1,743,000 $2,739,000
– Variable Costs
– Materials used $250,000 $350,000 $550,000
– Labor incurred $100,000 $140,000 $220,000
– Additional overhead $50,000 $70,000 $110,000
– Sales or billing Commissions $74,700 $104,580 $164,340
– Fixed Costs
-Hardware and software Operations $500,000 $500,000 $500,000
– Telecommunications $8,000 $8,000 $8,000
– Legal Services provisioned $20,000 $20,000 $20,000
– Accounting Services offered $20,000 $20,000 $20,000
– Insurance Services $100,000 $100,000 $100,000
– Personnel Costs
– Administration Salaries $56,000 $56,000 $56,000
– Sales and marketing Salaries $144,000 $144,000 $144,000
– Other Personnel Overheads $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Operations Sub-Total ($107,700) $200,420 $816,660
CASH FLOWS FROM INVESTMENTS
– Hardware and Software Applications $1,500,000
– Equipment and data communication tools $750,000
Investments Sub-Total ($2,250,000) $0 $0 $0
CASH FLOWS FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES
+ Sales of Equity $1,500,000
+ Commercial Loans $1,250,000
– Loan Repayments $116,295 $116,295 $116,295
Financing Sub-Total $2,750,000 ($116,295) ($116,295) ($116,295)
ENDING CASH
Cash at End of Period $520,000 $276,015 $360,135 $1,060,595
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