Sydney Water taps into CRM, turns off SaaS

With multiple disparate applications managing customer interactions, Sydney Water will invest in a fit-for-purpose CRM system to improve its levels of customer service.

By its own admission, Sydney Water's "unconnected applications" used to manage "interactions" with customers is not sustainable as it is "compromising" some key systems, most notably the ACCESS billing system, and is "hampering Sydney Water's ability to deliver appropriate levels of customer service".

In a tender document released by the state government owned statutory corporation, the term CRM has been watered down to "customer management system", which will be run in-house and not hosted by the supplier.

"Sydney Water has decided to host [the] software on its own infrastructure and will not accept tender responses which propose to supply the product to Sydney Water as software for services [sic]," according to one document.

That leaves SaaS vendors with the only option to offer their software as a traditional in-house enterprise application.

Furthermore, as this request for tender is for the supply of software only, Sydney Water will only accept responses from entities that "own, or who are part of the same corporate group which owns, the intellectual property in the product which is being offered".

Where that leaves suppliers of open source CRM software is open to interpretation.

Despite being an "open tender", Sydney Water will only accept proposals from software providers and third-party reseller responses will not be accepted, and a separate tender will be requested for systems integration of the chosen software at a later date.

The new software also forms part of CIO Tim Catley's vision for more Web-based front ends at Sydney Water so it doesn't matter if staff are in the office, in an Internet cafe, or using their mobile phone, they can access the application.

Capgemini was engaged to assist in the development of business process specifications and the requirements definitions, and, as such, is excluded from tendering for any further part of the customer management system project.

Sydney Water has retained Capgemini in a quality assurance and advisory capacity for the duration of this CMS project.

The requirements of the product include:

- A comprehensive and easily accessible view of both customer and property profiles and history, enabling staff to provide informed and proactive customer service.

- An integrated business platform to automate and support efficient customer management processes and workflow.

- Multi-channel customer servicing capability to support call centre, field based and self service access as well as supporting e-mail and Internet channels.

- Campaign management functionality to better enable customer targeting, quicker campaign design, control of the customer experience and improved communications.

Billing functionality is specifically excluded as a capability of the new software.

A proof of concept stage will be performed followed by a "foundation" where functionality will be tested, then online self-service, and additional modules like campaign management, field mobility, and linking to business intelligence tools will be implemented.

With more than 3000 staff, Sydney Water has assets with a replacement value of more than $20 billion and a capital expenditure program of more than $1 billion planned for 2007 and 2008.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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