SEVERN TRENT WATER - STRIDING AHEAD WITH GIS
Mike Williams and Neil Tansley
This paper tells the story of Severn Trent Water's (STW) speedy and successful implementation of its Under Ground Asset Data Management System (UADMS). The project includes Esri GIS implementation, water and wastewater system data conversion, applications development, business process re-engineering, network modeling integration, and user training.
The paper describes the business pressures that led to STWs decision to implement UADMS and explores the benefits realised to date. UADMS improves access to asset information, increases the accuracy of the data, improves data maintenance and boosts customer service. These triumphs are enabling the business to manage its assets more effectively.
In 1998 Severn Trent Water (STW) began the creation of an Underground Asset Data Management System (UADMS)and centralising records management with the objective of delivering a new records management process supported by a Geographic Information System. The investment delivered a new Record Management Centre operating a standardised, business process, which supplies end-users with both standard and customised GIS-created records products.
Records technicians and operational staff were closely involved in the process of developing standardised records management processes, a corporate asset data model, mapping standards and customised GIS applications. The initial step was to involve Records Office staff in defining a re-engineered work flow for managing records data. This work flow formed the core component of the project and enabled all other work streams, database design, data conversion, application design and infrastructure design, to successfully meet business requirements.
Ongoing stakeholder involvement, through design support groups and key deliverable quality reviews, achieved early prototyping, testing and refinement of the IT solutions culminating in the delivery of an operational Records Management Centre before in the year 2000. This paper outlines the approaches used to ensure that business requirements were satisfied and user acceptance gained for both organisational and technology changes.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT APPROACH
The objective of any Project Management Team is to deliver the project benefits to the defined quality, timescale and budget. The UADMS Project Management Team actively managed three key programs aimed at achieving benefits delivery.
Quality Review Process
The quality review process was established to ensure all project deliverables (from project design documents to office furniture and everything in between) met predefined quality standards. In addition, the process developed people's understanding of specific project areas and ensured end-user 'buy-in'. The process identified individuals with the skills and experience to contribute to each project deliverable who were invited to critique deliverables before they were approved. All reviewers were invited to review design documents, for example, with the originators and to debate deliverable issues and agree to modifications.
Configuration Management is the collective term that the management team used to describe the management of project risks, issues, problems and changes to scope. Any employee of STW or the project team was invited to raise a concern regarding a specific area of the project. The management team met as necessary to review and classify incoming concerns and ensure that existing risks, issues, and problems were being given appropriate attention to either mitigate or resolve them. This process ensured that any threats to the successful delivery of benefits were effectively managed.
The Project Management team met formally with the STW senior operations managers on a regular basis and with the sponsoring Director once a quarter to inform them of project progress and maintain support.
A project communication manager, reporting to the Project Manager, delivered regular publications and presentations summarising project news. Each project team member had an assigned group of business stakeholders who they met with regularly to provide project updates and obtain vital feedback. The heart of the program involved business people sharing their project experiences with colleagues and the project team.
Additionally, the team set up several business support groups that provided input and timely feedback to the suppliers.
BUSINESS PROCESS DEVELOPMENT
The core component of the project was to change the way asset records were managed within STW. Ten records offices, each representing different geographic areas of the company, provided mostly paper record products (displaying underground assets) to the operational and planning staff within their geographic area. Each office independently supplied products to varying presentation standards. Map symbology, record content, and record products varied significantly in each of the offices. The project achieved efficiencies by standardising processes and streaming the work performed. The ten offices were closed down and a new Records Management Centre opened in October 2000 supporting the whole of STW, using streamlined work processes to deliver standard products supported by customised GIS applications. In addition sewerage underground asset data residing in 50 separate GIS databases that were managed by local sewerage agents is being migrated to the new system and will be managed by the Records Management Centre from summer 2001.
Recognising the impact these changes would have on the business, the STW project team took early ownership of the business process re-engineering work. Intially, a small group of records office representatives (all from different offices) participated in a week-long workshop to understand and re-define the existing processess. This group went on to review and agree proposed High-level processes for Updating, Viewing and Distributing map-based records.
A records focus group, represented by at least one member of each of the existing records offices, was then established. Presentations and quality review sessions between the Project and this group on the detailed development and implementation of new business processes were key in winning business support for this major organisational change.
STW determined that the database design must have the flexibility to grow over time. The data modeling activity thus needed to be compatible with other business processes that may one day take advantage of GIS.
Delivering the data model and database design was a critical activity that had to be completed before data conversion or application development work could start in earnest. A dedicated database design support team was selected, made up primarily of project team members and representatives from the IT suppliers.
After a few months of dedicated work, a satisfactory Logical Data Model emerged. The final version documents over 100 entities and 1000 attributes, with relevant valid values. The critical success factors were moving the team to a central, off-line working environment, interfacing with other ongoing projects within STW, using the skills of experienced data modelling consultants, and having the contribution and support of the IT suppliers.
A data model is not a document an average user can pick up and easily interpret. To obtain business endorsement of the model, the team focused its efforts on visiting various work areas in the business and presenting relevant data model relationships. The distribution of thick documents and complicated diagrams were successfully avoided. During each presentation, the team used examples relevant to the audience.
The project converted the asset data for its 27,000 miles of water mains from paper to digital form and translated electronic asset data from two existing GIS systems into the UADMS database. One of these systems consisted of over 50 stand alone PCs holding sewerage asset data for 33,000 miles of sewers. Data conversion activities accounted for some 30% of the total project budget. It was extremely critical, not only for business acceptance reasons but also for regulatory and safety reasons, to successfully convert all data types, bringing them to a common standard where necessary.
Key business people were involved early in the conversion specification process through a team formed to develop a company-wide map standard. The map standards group, as they were called, was business led. Within a few months, they agreed a standard set of symbology and defined the business requirements for a set of nine different records products. This was a significant accomplishment since STW previously produced over forty different records products, each using different symbology.
STW built 'map exhibits' from the data sets maintained within each of ten records offices to prove the converter's understanding and interpretation of existing data. A map exhibit is a cut and paste of an asset on an original record that is referenced against the asset name and the new symbology post-conversion. For example, a map exhibit of a fire hydrant would identify what a fire hydrant looks like on the records today and what it will look like after conversion. Developing exhibits for each type of asset within each office built confidence in the conversion process and set expectations of what the converted records will look like.
After the set of map exhibits were created for the first of the ten offices, a data conversion process prototype exercise began. An area of ten maps was converted by the Project. Records Office staff then went through the maps and highlighted problem areas. This process was repeated multiple times for the same map set until an agreed acceptance criteria for positional accuracy and text placement standards was achieved.
STW subsequently used people from the business to validate data deliveries in the Model Office environment. This achieved business acceptance of the final data deliverables.
The application design and development was divided into four separate stages. Each stage of application design focused on delivering specific functionality to support the business processes.
An STW application design support team was established, again with business people from outside the project. This team met regularly with application designers to work through 'storyboard' designs. The objective of these meetings was to map the proposed functionality against the re-engineered processes. Consensus was gained from the business participants as to whether the functionality would support the process.
The rate at which successful discussions and agreement could be achieved was initially limited by lack of experience of modern GIS products. Never having enjoyed the use of modern GIS applications in a business environment, managers and future users found it difficult to imagine the capabilities that could be delivered over and above existing records practices. To overcome this, early prototypes of the customised GIS applications were installed and demonstrations, with hands-on use where feasible, given to future users. This was followed by a structured Pilot of the IT and new Business processes.
The advantage of this design and development methodology was that managers and end-users had early exposure to something real. They were empowered to contribute to the design by taking a 'hands-on' role during the design cycle. Ultimately reducing the risk of implementing an application that failed to meet the requirements.
Prior to the company-wide implementation of the Records Management Centre, the project team ran a pilot program designed to perform a trial run on the processes using electronic data, software, and technical infrastructure. Objectives of the pilot program included:
Ÿ Veryifying and improve detailed work procedures to enhance the business processes.
Ÿ Reduce the risk of process, software and infrastructure failure prior to business implementation.
Ÿ Demonstrate project deliverables to business stakeholders.
Ÿ Validate the established processes and resource allocations.
Ÿ Further refine the software based upon pilot experiences.
Ÿ Quantify business benefits, where possible.
STW used people from the business to operate the pilot. Work performed during the pilot replicated ongoing work in the largest Records Office, thus making the work volumes and variety as 'real' as possible. This business pilot provided evidence of the business benefits actually achievable within the new process and identified improvement opportunities, as well as providing a final opportunity to build business confidence and support before implementation took place. The results of the pilot were very heartening as they demonstrated that both the benefits identified in the early Business Case were attainable and that the Process and IT Application design were wholesome and complimentary.
Severn Trent Water is now managing water distribution records and some soon to be all sewerage records from one central location using re-engineered business process that deliver standard GIS-created records products. Recognising that the key to success is based on the business acceptance of both the organisational and technology change, the project team took painstaking steps to involve end-users and key stakeholders. Records technicians and operational staff contributed to the design of the new business processes and supporting software, the creation of the map standards, records product layout, and the development of an underground asset logical data model.
The project team sought and encouraged business involvement in key deliverable quality review sessions and design support teams. For most aspects of the project, the STW and supplier teams started with a basic understanding of the business requirements, proposed a solution and then sought business review and recommendation. After modification and further development, the business was asked again to provide input. The cycle continued until the agreed to quality criteria were satisfied. This approach ensured end products that are well matched to the business requirements and perhaps, even more important, a staff of project champions each whom, through their 'voluntary' contributions, had a strong sense of project ownership.
The author would like to acknowledge the support of John Banyard, Director of Asset Management for STW and the STW Project Management Team, in particular Alan Elton, Neil Tansley, Paul Hodson and Karen Marshall-Lee.
Mike Williams, Senior Manager
Severn Trent Water Ltd
Tel 0121 452 3431
Fax 0121 452 3516
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