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Digital innovation empowers property development growth

Water companies are looking to harness emerging automation technology and smart data to transform their services. Often this requires a new way of working, closely focused on defined business outcomes, effective innovation and proper collaboration.

Among them is Anglian Water, which has established close working relationships with a small group of expert companies to digitally transform its developer services business. This transformation will deliver process efficiencies and more than £20 million of savings over the next five years.

“Historically, our customers would come to us and say ‘we have a development and we need water infrastructure’ and then we would come up with a solution,” explains Iain Amis, head of developer services at Anglian Water. “With our project we will have visibility much earlier, when engaging with property developers is still just a thought for landowners wanting to sell, enabling us to be more proactive, strategic and efficient.”

Anglian Water has created two bespoke systems called Grosight and Inflow, guided by transformation consultancy Curzon & Company, which helped to build the digital business case, sharpen the project strategy and support the organisation in effecting new ways of working. These smart systems are now live across the utility’s operations, with IT development led by Cognizant as part of Anglian Water’s Enterprise Works Management Alliance.

The systems fully digitise the application process, planning and asset delivery. They also provide advanced geospatial capabilities that include drawing polygons for developer services applications - the first such programme in a UK water utility - and offer automated workflow management. In contrast, many other utilities only digitise or outsource application submission and assessment, and some have no digital capability at all in their developer services businesses.

The success of the project in meeting measured strategic outcomes means its application has been carefully broadened. “We began with a focus on low-volume, high-complexity schemes, but realised these platforms will work for all our one-off customers, our builders and our big developers as well,” says Mr Amis. He describes the work as “totally transformational” because the water company is able to provide developers with much better experiences and is ready to meet the customer service requirements of Ofwat’s new AMP7 DMeX measure.

“Grosight and Inflow are equipping Anglian Water with the capability to take a strategic approach to asset planning across the entirety of a water resource zone and recycling catchment area, reducing design costs by identifying site clusters and efficient solutions,” explains Edem Eno-Amooquaye, managing consultant at Curzon & Company. Better site visibility provides greater insight on the needs of property developers, enabling sustainability initiatives such as water reuse to be encouraged and cutting the cost of late changes.

During the project, collaboration between business functions, IT and delivery teams has been essential. As guardian of the business case, Curzon & Company has orchestrated this collaboration and taken responsibility for grounding all technical requirements and design functionality in the reality of business benefits.

“Curzon & Company has led in defining the change management strategy to ensure the benefits of digitisation and new ways of working are embedded within the developer services business,” explains Mr Eno-Amooquaye. This critical role has served to provide assurance to both Anglian Water and the IT team throughout the life cycle of the programme.

To make the relationship work between separate companies, in such a crucial commercial context for Anglian Water, all the parties have focused on growing together. The process has proved to be highly efficient and open, with the customer at its heart.


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