The NSW State Water department has taken the first steps in a wide-ranging IT overhaul expected to touch multiple areas of the agency’s operations, and governed by its first ever business information services strategy.
The state-owned corporation’s BIS, and associated business transformation program, was approved by the State Water Corporation Board in 2012. The program has been allocated funding of $30.2 million over four years.
The organisation has started two “key enabling projects” within the program - the implementation of a new enterprise portal as well as a new data management and integration product - which will provide the “presentation layer for all of the other projects and the means by which each project solution is integrated with the other solutions”.
The overall transformation program includes a number of “substantial” IT projects, including a full refresh of its finance, asset and project delivery ERP systems, under the moniker ‘StateWaterWise’.
It also includes:
- the introduction of a new ‘Opal’ water accounting system, likely to be based on proprietary accounting software;
- a smart metering project (iSmart);
- data warehousing and business intelligence capability; and
- ‘Carm’, an externally funded refresh of its existing ‘Cairo’ river management system to a new computer-aided design framework.
The two immediate priorities for the agency, however, are the implementation of Microsoft’s Biztalk product as its new data management and integration solution, and the introduction of LifeRay (Java-based open source portal) as its enterprise web portal.
State Water plans to spend between $900,000 to $1.3 million on the projects.
It conducted a proof of concept with LifeRay to ensure it was fit for purpose, and plans to go ahead with the implementation.
State Water similarly commissioned a study into potential data management and integration solutions and decided Biztalk would be appropriate, given its current use within the Sydney Catchment Authority, with which State Water will merge over the next year and a half.
State Water manages and operates major infrastructure in NSW to deliver bulk water to around 6300 licensed water users on the state’s 14 regulated rivers. It employs over 300 staff across 35 offices, including its Dubbo headquarters.
Its current systems and processes have developed in an “organic fashion”, it told potential suppliers this week, which had produced a disparate and unconnected IT environment.
“Some systems are no longer supported and several other applications are running on versions which are very old and whilst still supported are no longer being enhanced or marketed. Ongoing support for these products is problematic, exposing the organisation to an unacceptable level of risk."
- NSW State Water tender documents
It singled out its current water accounting system as one needing urgent attention. The legacy solution is “extremely inflexible” it said, and based on legacy code which is currently unsupported.
“The impact of this operating environment is manifested in customer dissatisfaction, staff dissatisfaction, inefficiency and unnecessary cost.
“There are significant examples where the same information must be entered in different systems, leading to data entry errors. Manual process workarounds are in place to address system and data limitations. To support this environment, processes have developed which are undocumented, inefficient and complex."
- NSW State Water tender documents
It expects to evaluate tenders for a prime integrator for the LifeRay and Biztalk integrations over the next month and award a winner towards the end of May.