Sydney Water will soon replace a 30-year-old billing system that is currently responsible for processing 1.7 million customer bills every quarter.
The water utility’s billing platform is a bespoke system that was written on an IBM mainframe in the 1980s using the PL/1 programming language.
“We’ve been using that ever since and it’s really now showing signs of age,” the organisation’s outgoing CIO, Stephen Wilson told CIO Australia. “It’s not capable of meeting the needs of our customers in the future with the digital transition.”
The billing system replacement was one major project Wilson put in front of Sydney Water’s board for approval before he stepped down from the CIO role in December. Wilson is being replaced by George Hunt, who is joining the organisation next month.
Wilson said Sydney Water ran a successful billing system prototype with SAP last year.
“We are using that to go into the market this year for a complete replacement and it will be a major piece of work. This is where George [Hunt] comes in because he’s done these sorts of things before,” he said.
The project is in front of Sydney Water’s board now for discussion before it is passed through the NSW Government’s Gateway Review System, he said.
“These things are very big and expensive but essential and we have great plans for the future for having better customer service on the back of a standardised platform rather than having to customise and change things.”
Sydney Water’s corporate Lifestream strategy, which aims to create a high performance at the organisation and improve interactions with customers is well supported by technology, said Wilson.
“The technology [group] has a seat at the table. Kevin Young [Sydney Water’s managing director] has made a lot of changes in that area. I think people across Sydney Water understand the importance of having a platform that’s rock solid and robust and [IT specialists] being able to build apps around the edges of it. This is the direction that we are heading in.
“We have an app on our website called the Water Services Radar that lets you see all the work that is going on in your area.
“It [the app] is not so new now but we have to hook into all off these old systems to [provide information]. In the future it will be a lot easier for us to give more up-to-date, accurate and timely information to people hopefully at the individual level.”
Wilson is working part-time at Sydney Water until Hunt starts work in March.
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