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A magazine for the ICT Decision Maker- November 2014
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BT Field Force Automation Managed Devices keeps Scottish Water flowing
Scottish Water is the sole provider of clean, safe drinking water and waste water disposal services across Scotland. Every day Scottish Water provides 2.1 billion litres of clean water and takes away nearly one billion litres of waste water for treatment.
With an area of 79,000 square kilometres (over 30,000 square miles), Scottish Water services one third of the area of Britain and is the fourth largest water and waste water services provider in the UK. Scottish Water has around five million customers in 2.4 million households and employs just over 3,700 people across Scotland. Annual turnover of £1 billion places it in Scotland’s list of top 20 companies. Scottish Water’s head office is in Dunfermline with key regional offices in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness.
With its long coastline (more than 11,000 kilometres/6,800 miles) and small but relatively dispersed population, Scotland needs a large number of water and waste water treatment works. Scottish Water maintains and operates thousands of assets including more than 47,000 kilometres of water pipes, 50,000 kilometres of sewer pipes, 1837 waste water treatment works (including 1206 septic tanks) and 297 water treatment works plus pumping stations, sludge treatment centres and reservoirs. The company has 1200 engineers who deliver round the clock service to maintain facilities, respond to service breakdowns and customer calls, and carry out routine maintenance on water and waste treatment works, infrastructure networks, service reservoirs and customer supplies.
In 2007, it became clear the mobile technology used by Scottish Water’s field force was no longer able to support the requirements of the business. A decision was taken to upgrade the mobile platform from devices running Windows Mobile 2003 to new devices with Windows Mobile 5 or later, and Windows XP or later. At the same time, Scottish Water saw an opportunity to further develop mobile working to improve the productivity of its field operatives and reduce operating costs.
Raymond Smith, IT Strategy Development Manager at Scottish Water, says: “We envisaged a new mobile solution that would help change the way our employees work. More dynamic work scheduling will help us ensure that the most appropriate person is the first to respond to an incident and so deliver much faster fault resolution, helping us meet or exceed our performance targets.”
Scottish Water has developed an application for mobile work management, closely integrated with customer, work and asset management solutions but wanted to appoint an external partner to be responsible for the provision and 24 x 7 support of mobile devices and connectivity across its field force.
From responses to an invitation to tender, eight suppliers were selected and Scottish Water entered detailed negotiations with six. The most important criteria for selection were quality of support, cost, commercial viability and device functionality. The selection process included live trials in order to fully evaluate the GPRS and RF capabilities of the devices. Scottish Water also made it clear that it was looking for a partner who could deliver additional value such as joint initiatives on cost reduction, innovative thinking around working practices and a mobility roadmap for the future.
Scottish Water chose BT as its mobility partner, citing BT’s proven experience in field force automation, both as a practitioner and provider to other utilities.
Raymond Smith continues: “BT clearly understands our industry and took great trouble to understand the nuances of the way we work at Scottish Water and, therefore, what we need the devices to be capable of and what levels of service we require. BT’s solution is built on leading edge, but not bleeding edge technology, so it will be robust in operation. In addition, a key objective for us is to limit any risk to service delivery and we were impressed with BT’s Service Centre capability, which ensures that our people have access to the support they need so they can get on with their jobs.”
BT Field Force Automation Managed Devices provides cost effective and comprehensive management and support of devices including supply, configuration, deployment, remote repair, logistics, asset management and incident tracking. BT’s solution for Scottish Water includes a range of managed mobile devices including PDAs from Motorola and Panasonic Toughbooks, supplied to more than 500 engineers. Support is provided by a team of dedicated BT Field Force Automation service engineers, whom Scottish Water employees can contact through a dedicated Help Desk. Typically, the BT support service resolves 95 per cent of queries at first contact.
The BT service desk is responsible for initial configuration, SIM set-up, asset management and despatching devices. Routine support includes:
- First and second tier device utilisation and connectivity
- First tier application support, all device warranty and replacement
- All air time and liaison with providers
- Provision and support of peripherals
- Administration for joiners, leavers and stolen devices
- Management of the relationship w ith third party manufacturers
Raymond Smith comments: “We selected the Gold service offering for our supply and support contract and it truly has been a valuable experience. The speed of implementation, fault resolution and device replacement is first class and definitely worthy of the Gold badge.”
The BT Field Force Automation team also supported Scottish Water in a phased rollout, training employees in how to use the new devices and processes. Raymond Smith comments: “BT’s support for the roll out, including assisting at every training session, made a huge difference to the speed and quality of our deployment.”
The new mobile solution enables Scottish Water to dynamically allocate work to engineers, according to location and individual skill set. Engineers can easily access corporate data and processes even in remote parts of Scotland, enabling them to speedily respond to customers and resolve faults. Once a job is complete, the engineer submits any reports and updates remotely, without needing to return to the office to upload documents.
The BT Field Force Automation Managed Devices service also provides several security benefits. In the event of a device being lost or stolen, BT can remotely lock down the device and ensure that Scottish Water’s data is protected from loss or misuse. Detailed incident reports highlight recurring security problems and can be used to revise organisational procedures.
Scottish Water is deriving considerable tangible benefits from upgrading its mobile technology, including:
Improved customer satisfaction: Like all regulated companies, Scottish Water needs to meet industry standards in terms of service delivery and quality and can be penalised if its services fall short in any way. Fewer complaints show that customers are more satisfied with the quality of the service they now receive.
Greater productivity and efficiency: Scottish Water estimates that it has increased the effectiveness of its workforce by a conservative 10 per cent. Fewer engineers are needed to cover the same territory and they have a much reduced need for office facilities. More efficient allocation of jobs to engineers means a reduction in fuel costs and miles travelled.
Greater employee satisfaction: Engineers are said to be delighted with their new, state-of-the-art devices, which make their job much easier and more pleasant, as they can resolve customer issues more quickly.
Lower carbon footprint: More efficient work scheduling plus reduced time spent travelling to offices means that Scottish Water employees drive less miles, so lowering emissions.
Scottish Water is pleased with its ongoing relationship with BT, which it describes as ‘a valuable partnership’. It is now planning to roll out mobile functionality to the 50-strong Laboratory Services team, who are responsible for sampling water quality.
- BT Field Force Automation Managed Devices solution featuring: remote device management, service desk support, next day device swap out, asset registry, new starters and leavers administration, and a process for the management of stolen and lost devices