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This major water utility has £35m for help on change delivery

Digital transformation means cultural shifts too...

When it comes to digital transformation, some of the most intriguing programmes are taking place in the utilities space; a realm in which legacy operational technology meets cutting edge digital and data-driven aspirations; public and regulatory scrutiny are heightened, and pressure to perform better across customer services, environmental metrics like carbon emissions and waste water discharges, and more are all mounting.

As any leader knows however, transformation takes far more than simply throwing technology at a problem, even if it is a critical component of delivering transformational change. A new multi-supplier framework from Scottish Water (which employs approximately 4,000 staff, treats over a billion litres of wastewater daily and operates over 30,000 miles of water pipes) is a crisp reminder of this fact: the utility is going to market for up to £35 million of support with Business Change Delivery, as it looks to deliver an ambitious transformation programme.

Scottish Water's "Business Change Delivery" framework in brief:

  • Worth up to £35 million
  • Multi-supplier framework
  • Requests to participate due 20th March
  • Help develop a change management plan
  • Train employees on how to effectively manage and adapt to change
  • Close partnership with “Digital & Transformation Strategic Partners”
  • Improve internal capability in order to shape the management of business change
  • Supporting Scottish Water on the creation and delivery of major change and transformation programs, as a result of technology-enabled change; development, coaching and advice.
Scottish Water transformation plan: Utility gears up for £35m framework, seeks support on Business Change

Scottish Water has already engaged “20+ leading organisations” to explore “the art of the possible” CEO Douglas Millican said in 2021 and has been pushing hard to improve agility -- with one of 10 priority workstreams at the utility being (per its 2021-2022 annual report) to “fully ‘lean’ enterprise wide customer journeys, processes and governance, with all wastage removed, standardisation inherent and routines automated. To build cross functional agile teams in key business areas, to fully exploit new ways of autonomous working…”

Millican made the comments in a 2021 Plan for Transformation which further builds on four key objectives set out in 2019 ("differentiating the customer experience, keeping customer prices low, ensuring that its assets and services would be resilient, reliable, and secure, and supporting the Scottish economy.")

The Scottish Water Transformation Plan emphasises the importance of tech to this shift, saying the transformation would be “powered by digital technology, robotics, remote, operating centres and analytical insights that enable us to fix problems before they impact our customers and communities, in a way that predicts and prescribes solutions, and is safe for our people, good value for our customers and less carbon intensive…”)

See also: Water CIOs agree landmark Open Data project “Stream”

The water industry is the UK’s fourth most energy-intensive industry. Scottish Water has set a 2040 Net Zero target. Graphic from the utility's 2021-2022 annual report.

Part of the need for support with Business Change Management at Scottish Water stems from the fact that it plans to significantly ramp up investment. The said in 2022, for example, it said it would need to invest up to £100 million in technology to monitor its sewage pipes in a bid to make maintenance more predictive and less responsive. (Scottish Water, like many other water utilities, has piloted IoT-based network monitoring, trialling the role it could play in predicting blockages and pollution risks) and its transformation plan emphases that "more needs to be invested at quicker pace to replace our ageing infrastructure and make assets more resilient."

Among these programmes is one called "Exemplar" which Scottish Water says is "designed to help us understand more about our waste water operations and to make more informed decisions about how they are operated" with a beta deployment being at its Paisely waste water treatment plant, where "Exemplar is working to connect existing operational data, such as telemetry and weather data, with real-time data from new sources including Real-Time Control, Final Effluent Monitoring and Energy Monitoring. Operators can now view all this data using an app on their PC or mobile phone and use this to identify issues with the treatment process and prioritise what needs to be done and where."

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