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Process automation —
change of tenancy

The challenge

Our client is one of three metropolitan Melbourne’s water businesses owned by the Victorian Government. Our client provides drinking water, sewerage, trade waste and recycled water services to customers in Melbourne’s central business district, inner and western suburbs.

Requests to connect and disconnect water services to facilitate the movement of a tenant into and out of a property involved a large number of manually intensive, laborious tasks for not only our client but also for real estate agents, aggregators and landlords.

Our client would receive either a hand written form, or a typed email with no structure, which would then be manually keyed in to their existing CRM. This resulted in not only data quality issues, but also a growing backlog work, which ultimately led to a knock-on effect of billing errors, missed revenue and compliance breaches.

Our client’s approach to tackling this issue, in line with a major program of work to digitise high volume, high value customer interactions was to run a PoC (proof of concept) to validate the capability of an automation and robotics platform. However the combination of a business owner, and delivery team inexperienced in project delivery, no foundational analysis, and an offshore vendor soon saw the rise of problems with delivery and progress stalled.

At this point Alchemy Solutions (Alchemy) were engaged to fill the capability gap and steer the initiative back on the path towards its key objectives.

The solution

Our initial observations surfaced that all parties involved in delivery were communicating at differing levels, with a lack of a common language to approach such a large and complex initiative that touched multiple departments.

Led by an Alchemy consultant, an approach was adopted to kick-off a series of process-based workshops to focus on two key elements: automation and a web-based form to capture and standardise input with a view to form a common lexicon between the business stakeholders and the platform delivery team.
The starting point was to investigate the “as-is”, and with no clearly defined processed evidence, rapidly moved towards analysis of data required to complete a change of tenancy.

Further analysis commencing at the definition of Level 3 (roles, inputs, outputs and steps required to complete a specific task) processes, then led to detailed SIPOC analysis to flesh out Level 4 instructions and procedures to complete Level 3 process). This allows the vendor to develop their code on the back of the L4 process (i.e. Level 5 work instructions).
In summary the business stakeholders were defining their requirements at L3 and the vendor needed requirements at L4 to make the required development changes to the platform. The establishment of this common lexicon broke the back of the delivery issues and ensured every stakeholder was on the same page.

During this phase of the project it was discovered that there was no provision within the project scope for testing, and the delivery team lacked capability to undertake change management activities. The defined processes were able to inform the testing scope and change impact assessment; which in turn fed into the key communications to the end consumers, i.e. real estate agents, landlords and aggregators.

The results

Within a 10 week timeframe, with a common goal defined, and an understanding of why process is important and how it can help deliver a successful outcome, and an automated solution in place, the following results were achieved:

  • redirection of 5.0 FTE capacity and capability of the current (15-20 FTE) data entry team to focus on exceptions management;
  • significant increase in data quality
  • a positive effect of resolving indirect business process issues;
  • on the back of the processes that were being automated, the data flow was placed under detailed analysis; this highlighted that some of the business rules that triggered the processes were incorrect and required re-alignment;
  • customer experience increased via sending timely and informative notifications, e.g. welcome emails, being sent the right bill.

Final thoughts

To address the delivery issues, Alchemy took on the Process Improvement and Automation leadership role.

By utilising a combination of our proven methods and our ability to educate the team members and stakeholders we were able to save the Automation project from failure.

Alchemy’s process lead and team were able to engage all stakeholders and ensure a common language and approach were utilised supported by the following Alchemy tools and techniques;

  • Alchemy’s Continuous Improvement model – designed to create a purpose fit effective plan to minimise the risk and disruption to people, current process and technology in order to create a climate for change, engage and enable stakeholders and implement and sustain new behaviours.
  • People First – Alchemy brings a distinct and holistic people, process and technology approach to each engagement which helps in identifying and remediating blockages to communication and process flows. The identification and prioritisation of customer and employee journey’s ensures line of sight to what’s important – People!