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Case Study: Anglian Water/ClickSoftware

CASE STUDY: ANGLIAN WATER/CLICKSOFTWARE


Anglian Water, part of the AWG Group, is located in the east of England and serves the needs of around 6 million industrial, commercial and domestic customers. It is geographically the largest water company in England and Wales - stretching across some 27,500 square kilometres from the Humber in the north to the Thames in the south, and from Daventry in the west across to the east coast.

Anglian’s primary focus is to provide high-quality drinking water and waste water services, with a total commitment to sustainable development.

Challenge

Anglian Water is facing some tough regional challenges in both the near and long-term. Whilst its area is low-lying and could be susceptible to flooding, paradoxically it has one of the lowest levels of rainfall in the UK. Thus its existing infrastructure has to be robust and rigorously maintained.

There are also demographic pressures on the company; 1 million new homes are due to be built in the region within 25 years, including new towns of up to 10,000 properties. This will require Anglian Water to embark on a long-term scheme of work to create the infrastructure that will provide and dispose of water for the new homes.

On top of these wider challenges, Anglian also operates within guidelines agreed with the Office of Water Services (OFWAT), and needs to comply with efficiency and cost standards for the five-year regulatory period which began in April 2005.

This all signifies the need to rigorously maintain and expand its existing infrastructure, with the requisite meticulous planning of field resource to complete the works. Unfortunately, the structure and manual systems employed by Anglian Water for this purpose were inefficient and prone to error.

Its engineers in the field were divided into small units of between six and 30 people known as ‘work centres’. Work centres are responsible for six process areas for their geographical region:

* Clean water treatment.

* Network distribution.

* Waste water collection.

* Waste water treatment plants.

* Mechanical and electrical maintenance.

* Metering.

On top of their day-to-day jobs, field engineers from work centres were expected to contact regional schedulers at the end of the day with progress reports. This was a frustrating process, with staff often having significant waiting time before getting through to the relevant scheduling centres.

The use of schedulers in different regions operating disparate systems resulted in a lack of visibility of the company’s overall resources against demand. Management could therefore not accurately predict the resource requirements for the company’s repair, new-build and maintenance projects.

Given these issues, it was unsurprising that over time the levels of service to customers had dropped dramatically from 93% in 1995/96 to 53% in 2003/04. With a lack of information available to call centre staff and a perception that customer service needed to be improved, an independent survey rated Anglian Water contact centre performance at just two out of 10.

Solution

Anglian prioritised an improvement in service quality and a drive to increase levels of efficiency. Its ultimate aim was to be ranked as ‘leading the industry’.

One of the key components in effecting this change was the centralisation of operations into an operational management centre (OMC) which would be responsible for the maintenance and assets of the business.

Core to the OMC would be a new scheduling system that would provide visibility of all field operations in one place.

Simon White, business readiness manager at Anglian Water, explained the rationale: “We needed a lot more clarity on what field engineers did and where they did it. We needed to improve customer service by reacting very quickly to customers’ needs. We needed to make sure we had the right staff available at the right time at the right place.”

Because of the pivotal role that the scheduling and dispatch solution would play in shaping Anglian Water’s business, the selection process was rigorous. To really test the three shortlisted vendors, they were each provided with a package of known work and asked to pass it through their individual systems and then present the results.

ClickSoftware was one of two vendors that produced similarly impressive scheduling solutions from Anglian Water’s real data. Crucially, ClickSoftware also demonstrated an intuitive interface, and the consensus amongst Anglian’s scheduling workforce was that it was something they could work with immediately.

Moreover, the end-to-end capability of ClickSoftware to schedule engineers, analyse work trends, forecast future demand and plan resources accordingly, also impressed. Anglian duly purchased ClickSchedule, ClickAnalyze, ClickForecast and ClickPlan to be used by 170 back-office staff to schedule 1,180 field engineers on more than 1 million jobs a year.

“The scheduling system itself had to be world-class and after an extensive evaluation of products on the market, it was obvious that the value of ClickSoftware's suite approach would drive enormous benefits both now and into the future.” said David Cooke, director of water services at Anglian Water.

He added: “An important benefit was ClickSoftware’s versatility in handling demand, from short-cycle meter reading all the way through to long-cycle, project-style maintenance work. We needed a solution that could help us better forecast our demand over time and properly plan to have the right number of engineers on hand.”

Implementation

The desire to realise benefits in the current regulatory period drove aggressive implementation timescales, and ClickSoftware immersed itself in the initiative.

In January 2005, tri-partite business process re-engineering workshops kicked off the project - comprising Anglian Water, its IT partner Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and ClickSoftware.

Over the next four months, ClickSoftware’s role was to provide domain expertise on best-practice scheduling for utilities. For ClickSoftware’s consultants, it provided an appreciation of the wider objectives beyond scheduling.

White was impressed by the approach of all members of the workshop: “At the workshops you wouldn’t have been able to tell who were from ClickSoftware, who were from CSC and who were from Anglian Water, it was a real joined-up team approach”.

One of the outputs of the workshop was an agreement on the build of all solutions within an agreed timetable. An initial design and testing phase was worked on to smooth the progress of the future live implementation. This ran from June to October 2005 and involved several stages:

1. The initial tranche meant creating a detailed design specification for ClickSchedule and planning where it would integrate with other critical applications such as SAP HR (human resources), SAP ALM (asset lifecycle management) and SAP MAU (mobile asset for utilities).

2. Next, the user interface in ClickSchedule was configured to include custom forms, scheduling logic, agent alerts and workflow.

3. Customisations were then developed for Anglian Water. Many of these were deemed so useful that following consultation with the ClickSoftware user group, they were incorporated as a standard component in future versions of the ClickSchedule product.

4. Integration and quality assurance followed, and the results reinforced ClickSoftware’s reputation as a robust application with - unusually for such a large project - hardly any issues identified.

5. ClickSchedule was then delivered onsite where Anglian was given the opportunity for an end-to-end walk-through of the system. This included testing the full functionality between SAP HR, SAP ALM and SAP MAU to ensure seamless integration.

A successful live pilot from November to December 2005 paved the way for ClickSchedule to be rolled out, work centre by work centre, from January to November 2006.

Results

The implementation of the entire suite of ClickSoftware’s solutions has paid dividends. ClickSoftware now supports Anglian Water’s key operational processes, providing reactive and planned repair and maintenance to the organisation’s vast operational water and waste water infrastructure.

Departments that previously worked in silos now work in collaboration and have access to the same customer and asset data across the organisation.

ClickForecast is used to understand the likelihood of future demand on resources associated with reactive work (such as blocked pipes). ClickPlan then grabs this information together with the future maintenance work that is forecasted in SAP, and compares it against information held in ClickSchedule. ClickPlan can then compare existing and future work against resources, and illustrate shortages and excesses.

The benefits are compelling; a clear, single view of the real-time situation has enabled schedulers to reduce the work backlog by 95% in some process areas and thereby reduce dispatch times and improve service. Better utilisation of internal resource has also resulted in Anglian increasing available capacity and significantly reducing its reliance on third-party outsourcing partners that deal with work such as leakage detection.

Anglian applied the full panoply of ClickSchedule’s capabilities, employing automation, optimisation and real-time updates on field resource availability. The system is also integrated into SAP HR which feeds calendar availability, sickness and training information into ClickSchedule.

By combining the capabilities of the HR and scheduling systems, Anglian has reduced the costs associated with administration and contributed to an 11% reduction in expensive overtime.

Chris Boucher, chief information officer at Anglian Water, highlighted further payback: “By integrating SAP and ClickSoftware and centralising our operational scheduling functions, we have radically changed the way we work at Anglian Water. The real-time visibility of a customer’s history, coupled with a consistent approach to managing our workloads, has not only provided better customer service, but also more proactive and sustainable management of our assets.”

The way staff work has completely changed - working in the field has become easier. When they start in the morning they have no need to visit a depot or headquarters, they simply log on to get their first assignment of the day.

David Cooke, director of water services at Anglian, said: “ClickSoftware has been a great enabler; sending out work electronically rather than via the phone or paper is one example of this.”

ClickSchedule automates the scheduling of field staff, optimising which field engineers go to which jobs with far greater efficiency than manual systems were able to do with a workforce of such size.

Schedules are now based on many complex variables such as an engineer’s location, skillset, current job and the tools they carry with them. The upshot is that they spend more time maintaining or repairing assets, as average travel per job is down 24%.

Cooke explained: “We have also eliminated technicians arriving on the job with the wrong skills, tools or materials, because of better planning, scheduling and deployment.”

The project as a whole has supported the businesses focus of ‘service, compliance and ‘value’ – underpinned by maximum operational efficiency. Cooke emphasised the benefits: “What we have learnt through this exercise is that the cost of good service is less than the cost of bad service.”

Future

To Anglian Water, ClickSoftware is not just tactical scheduling software but a tool that will help drive the future success of the business.

Cooke highlighted the strategic benefits: “Using the ClickSoftware Suite we can drill down into information that will allow us to prepare a case to justify the maintenance activity, asset investments and operating costs needed to run the business in the next five-year regulatory cycle.”

Benefits

* Increased service levels by 33%.
* Reduced average travel per job by 24%.
* Decreased the works backlog by 95% in some process areas.
* Decreased overtime by 11%.
* 99.7% waste water compliance.
 

 

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