Sydney Water reviews billing again

Sydney Water Corporation is in the midst of reviewing its in-house billing system, an aspiration which has previously landed it in hot water.

Sydney Water Corporation is in the midst of reviewing its in-house billing system, an aspiration which has previously landed it in hot water.

"Moving forward, the corporation is looking to overhaul its billing system," the independent pricing and regulatory tribunal (IPART) said in a draft report on Sydney Water.

A spokesperson for the water corporation confirmed that a review was underway and that it held such reviews every couple of years.

Billing has been a sensitive area for the water company after an attempt to revamp its billing system went awry at the beginning of the decade. The core package for the failed project came from UK-based vendor, Severn Trent Systems (a subsidiary of a major UK water utility), while Sydney Water chose PricewaterhouseCoopers as the prime contractor.

The budget ballooned to $135.1 million from an original $38 million, and $61 million worth of investment was ready to be written off when the project was abandoned prior to implementing core billing elements.

Until now, Sydney Water has been managing with its in-house developed system called the Automated Corporate Customer Enquiry Support System or ACCESS for short. However, this might change.

"SWC [Sydney Water Corporation] is currently process mapping its billing requirements and will have a better idea of what it will require and want to do by June 2010," the IPART report said, adding that the corporation had quoted a figure of $500,000 for an upgrade. The spokesperson for Sydney Water couldn't say when the review would be finished and declined to comment on cost. They said that Sydney Water didn't know where the $500,000 figure had come from.

Intelligent Business Research Services advisor Kevin McIsaac said that the sum wouldn't buy a major upgrade. "$500,000 would be a high-end consulting report from Accenture and Ernst & Young," he said. He guessed it would only finance three to five people working on a project for a year.

Billing will not be the only system to go under the microscope. This Monday, Sydney Water released a tender for IT Project review services. It is looking for up to three project review service providers to serve three-year contracts with the option of two one-year extensions.

There were around 30 new and existing IT projects within the IT Program management office for which the corporation expected to carry out 16 health checks, 14 post-execution reviews and 19 benefits realisation reviews.

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