Severn Trent Water moves ten years' of customer records from IBM mainframe

Severn Trent Water has migrated ten years' of customer billing records from its legacy mainframe.

Macro 4 has worked with Severn Trent Water to successfully decommission its mainframe-based legacy billing system, retaining fast access to ten years’ of customer history for the 3.7 million households and businesses the water firm serves.

Severn Trent Water’s legacy billing system, known as CAST, was previously available in a read-only format following the implementation of a new billing application.

To allow CAST to be decommissioned, the important historical data has now been moved to Macro 4’s online archive, allowing around 50 customer service agents to continue using it on a daily basis to resolve customer queries.

The archived data is presented on screens that mimic the on screen layout of the original CAST application and so are familiar and easy to use. This allows staff to quickly find the information they need without any re-training.

Severn Trent said this historical data "was now more widely available as users unfamiliar with mainframe legacy systems can easily navigate the new solution".

CAST was one of a number of legacy applications on Severn Trent Water’s IBM mainframe. It expects to save "in excess of £1m a year in support costs" when all applications have been decommissioned and the mainframe can be taken out of service.

This initiative is part of a wider programme to improve the allocation of resources, with the firm planning to decommission a series of legacy business applications across the organisation. Many of these are being replaced following the company rolling out a new SAP business software system last year.

“As is the case with many legacy business systems, we couldn’t just switch our old billing application off with no repercussions. It held around 700 million customer records which we needed to keep alive to address queries and potential disputes that can arise about historical billing activity," said Nichola Wilson, technical project manager at Severn Trent Water.

"There’s also a lot of valuable historic information, including meter locations and other billing data, that is helpful for operations personnel,” she said.

The decommissioned CAST data is held in a corporate system for archiving and document management, originally created in 2007 using Macro 4’s Columbus software.

Earlier this year, Severn Trent Water denied accusations from a trade union that a water shortage in the Midlands was caused by the implementation of its SAP system.

Trade union GMB claimed the introduction of the £70 million SAP system in June 2010 “had led to complete confusion in the scheduling of repair work and dealing with leaks”, which led to “massive losses of water from the reservoirs".

Severn Trent denied that its SAP ERP and SAP Resource and Portfolio Management (RPM) software was at fault.

“The introduction of any major computer system is challenging, but we refute entirely the suggestion that the current water resources situation is a result of the introduction of SAP or mismanagement," said Severn Trent.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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