Outsourcing is costly
Waternet used to outsource its ERP/CRM activities to PWN, the provincial water authority. According to Kiki Quist, functional manager at Waternet: “This was not only a costly solution but the activities were also considered too business-critical to outsource. We wanted to move to an in-house IT environment with a lower TCO.“
This bold move meant much more than acquiring new hardware. The existing SAP packages (SAP/CRM and SAP/ISU) were very rigid and did not perform well for the complex processes of water billing.
Kiki Quist: “Even though ‘water billing’ sounds simple, our business processes are not simple or straightforward. For example, we have to deal with a lot of transfers, such as address changes. Customers who move houses first had to be removed from the SAP system and subsequently re-registered at the new address. The primary actions involved with that were incredibly labour-intensive. You had to wrestle through seven to nine different SAP/ISU screens.“
Kiki Quist: “Other things that are not easily solved with a standard billing application include our complicated discount rules, bills with and without meter readings, bills that need to be sent to a broker or agent, meter readings that have to be taken once a year or once a month, etc.“
Wanted: a complete water billing solution
As a consequence, the schedule of requirements was a weighty affair. The new system would need to offer full support for all business processes around water billing. Furthermore, it would need to be capable of integrating widely diverging data sources. And, finally, it would need to perform all of this efficiently and cost-effectively.
Waternet put the job out to tender and received four responses. Kiki Quist: “Two were based on SAP, and the third was an adapted version of an old proprietary ERP package. The fourth, MECOMS, stood out as the most financially advantageous. This Dynamics AX-solution from Ferranti Computer Systems was certified by Microsoft and included a calculation, showing that our IT costs for the next five years would be considerably lower than the current cost of outsourcing. And that is an attractive proposition for any organisation.“