Anglian advances in the field
Anglian Water wanted to improve customer service and the efficiency of its 1,300 staff in the field. So it called in a management consultancy. Now staff no longer need to visit the office in the morning to get their jobs for the day.The utilities sector is tough. It is a heavily regulated industry, which means that organisations are bound by tight reporting guidelines and are continuously battling to improve efficiencies and customer service.
Anglian Water, part of the Anglian Water Group (AWG), is geographically the largest water company in England and Wales, and serves 4.2 million customers across East Anglia and the East Midlands.
In the past, being such a large utility, the company had faced its own operational efficiency challenges that could have affected customer service and profitability.
For Anglian Water, the holy grail was to reduce costs while improving customer service and efficiencies in its field force. The company developed an ambitious business strategy that would drive the company forward to achieve these goals.
Overall, the project needed to bring together infrastructure, technology and people in the field.
To support the project, Anglian Water enlisted the support of an external management consultancy that had experience in mobilising workforces, change management and programme management for other utilities companies.
This led to the appointment of consulting firm ABeam to support the project through to completion.
With vision and support in place, a successful change project with real achievable end goals was possible.
Anglian Water and ABeam identified some core areas that were leading to field force inefficiencies which could affect customer service. Anglian Water was able to take steps towards improving workforce management, and eliminating wasted customer visits as well as service level delivery.
The main objective of the project was to centralise Anglian Water's field operations and improve scheduling and dispatch to provide the efficiencies necessary to drive the company forward.
A single centralised operational management centre (OMC) was developed to control the activity of the entire field force across the region.
The project focused on business needs and used IT as the key to achieve the business goals. An entire IT system was designed and implemented in the OMC including a SAP platform integrated with a scheduling programme, a work management solution and financial systems so that all information could be linked. Once the OMC was set up and the IT systems installed, toughened laptops linked to the centre were given to all 1,300 Anglian Water field workers.
ABeam acted as the eyes and ears of the project. The management consultancy predicted and identified risks so it could provide a way forward at each stage. Its role changed throughout the project from undertaking technology audits, delivery and programme management to change management and benefits realisation.
The ABeam consultants involved in the project enabled the project to move from theory to full roll out and delivery of the business case over one year.
Commenting on Abeam's involvement, Paul Valleley says: "ABeam was committed to meeting deadlines. It implemented a coaching style to help the in-house team, which has benefited us greatly.
"Rather than coming in all guns blazing, ABeam combined all the parts of the project and helped it succeed on time and within budget."
The OMC centralised operations, while enabling optimisation of efficiencies, led to significant cultural changes for Anglian Water's workforce. Instead of having to visit the depot in the mornings to wade through paperwork to find their jobs for the day, field workers now just switch on the laptop from their vehicle to view full details of the day's jobs.
All the jobs are now matched to individual workers, their location, skills and toolset available on their vans. Better scheduling and allocation means that the customer can be informed of a more accurate time the technician will arrive, and there are fewer return jobs.
Overall, communication between Anglian Water and its customers has also significantly improved. Each job is now scheduled to better meet the individual customer's expectation and is prioritised as necessary to meet service level agreements.
Each job is tracked from the moment the call is logged through to the correct conclusion for that customer.
The centralised IT system means that all data is stored in a single repository that proves extremely valuable for regulatory reporting. This makes it easier for Anglian Water to justify asset investments and operating costs.
The project has delivered improved customer services, process management and field force optimisation. Anglian Water developed a strategy to meet its goals and become more efficient in its operations and for the benefit of its customers.
ABeam supported Anglian Water's vision and strategy by guiding the team through the project to meet its overall goals. Valleley adds: "Anglian developed its own comprehensive strategy and understood where it needed to get to in order to make significant improvements. The success of the project relied upon trust and mutual respect between Anglian Water and ABeam.
"The relationship stood the test of time throughout the project and as a partner ABeam fulfilled its commitment to the project, enabling it to run as smoothly as possible."