Severn Trent Water is using software and services company Macro 4 help it decommission a legacy billing system, while retaining access to 10 years' worth of customer data.
Macro 4 has worked with Severn Trent Water to decommission its mainframe-based legacy billing system, Cast, which contains customer history for 3.7 million households and businesses served by the FTSE 100 water company.
"As is the case with many legacy business systems, we couldn't just switch our old billing application off with no repercussions. It held around 700 million customer records, which we needed to keep alive to address queries and potential disputes that can arise about historical billing activity. There is also a lot of valuable, historic information, including meter locations and other billing data that is helpful for operations personnel," said Nichola Wilson, technical project manager of Severn Trent Water.
Macro 4 is being used to provide an online archive of this customer data, allowing approximately 50 customer service agents to continue using it on a daily basis to resolve customer queries.
The archived data is presented on screens that mimic the on-screen layout of the original mainframe application.
Cast was one of a number of legacy applications on Severn Trent Water's IBM mainframe. It expects to save in excess of £1m a year in support costs when all applications have been decommissioned and the mainframe can be taken out of service.
Following completion of its SAP system in 2010, Severn Trent Water is migrating applications and data from the mainframe systems.
"The legacy data is more accessible now it is in the archive because the navigation between screens has been improved, making it easier for staff to find their way around it. And productivity has increased because Macro 4 has also been able to retrieve archived billing data that was hard to access because it was stored on magnetic tapes and sometimes required specialist technical resources to extract the data," said Jagbir Singh Rai, mainframe technical support at Severn Trent Water.
The water company's IT team worked with Macro 4 to determine which data needed to be retained from the Cast system and how it should be structured and presented, including running a series of user workshops.
Last year, Severn Trent Water also extended the use of the Macro 4 document management system to support archiving from its SAP application. Integrating this with SAP has enabled scanned correspondence to be processed via workflow and meet regulatory targets measured by the water services regulation authority (Ofwat). It is also archiving static and infrequently accessed SAP data to help control the growth of the database, ensure good performance levels and reduce operational costs.