In a recent webinar hosted by Cloud for Utilities, DC Water's Assistant General Manager and CIO Thomas Kuczynski and Vertex's Director of Application Services Chaidan Lekchaum explained how DC Water upgraded its aging, cumbersome customer experience platform in record time and will save $22 million over a 7-year operating cycle.
By implementing VertexOne Managed Enterprise SaaS, DC Water achieved many of its "Blue Horizon 2020" strategy goals. Blue Horizon is the strategy for becoming a world class leader for utilities.
Three main tenets of the Blue Horizon 2020 strategy are:
- Cloud First—A strategy to reduce the risk of obsolete hardware/software (along with other benefits).
- Buy and Adopt—A focus on working with pre-packaged solutions to shorten the implementation cycle and receive a higher degree of functionality at a reduced cost.
- Anything/Anywhere/Anytime—Improvements that help mobilize the workforce; provide consistent, and in many cases, real-time information; and, an improved customer experience through channel consistency, with more and richer services.
Why the Change Was Necessary
There were three separate yet related drivers of these changes. From the customer perspective, DC Water had limited self-service options, no mobile customer application, a limited number of payment options and an inconsistent cross-channel experience.
From an operations standpoint, the ability to automate work processes was limited, as were reporting and analytics. There was a need to automate fieldwork and work order generation and recording. For example, shut-off orders were often carried out when they could have been avoided as customers paid "just in time."
Third, DC Water's technology system was difficult to interface with other systems. Changes were expensive and complex, and the aging infrastructure increased operating risks as well.
From Contract to Implementation in Record Time
Using Vertex's hybrid Agile-Waterfall methodology, the project went from contract to go-live in about 12 months. Issues were discussed immediately in daily scrum meetings and included a goal of resolving them within three days.
The process started with Vertex's foundation phase, called Fast Start. It was a data migration that ran in parallel with the planning phase, setting the stage for testing and verification, without disrupting business operations.
Fast Start allowed Vertex to implement the next phase: Lean Blueprint. This phase was conducted in a little over three months. Two major benefits of this phase were:
- Process area demonstrations, which allowed the DC Water team to see how the system operated with existing data.
- Gave the DC Water team extensive training before the system went live, cutting down on operator error at go-live.
Another factor that led to faster implantation was the Design by Exception approach. Pre-built solutions were used and tested with design changes made as needed during blueprinting.
Another aspect that permitted faster implementation was a focus on immediate functionality priorities, then growing the solution as needed. Vertex's focus was on the needs projected for the next 12 months ahead, not 10 years down the road. Since Vertex's commitment is for at least the next seven years, this model allows them to put in new functionality on an as-needed basis.
The Bottom Line
The total cost of the project, including initial evaluation and system implementation, was approximately $11 million. However, the estimated savings over the next seven years is more than double that amount—more than $22M.
More importantly, the new system allows for excellent customer service, improved data security, and a more mobile and efficient workforce. And as DC Water's customer base grows, the VertexOne system will seamlessly grow with it.
In addition, because of VertexOne's ability to integrate with technological advances in data collection, billing, and customer engagement, DC Water's system will remain agile, accurate and up-to-date for decades to come.
Are you ready to upgrade your customers to happier with a better, faster and cheaper CIS implementation? Watch the full webinar on-demand now to discover how VertexOne can transform your utility.