In a national achievement, the National Water Company (NWC) won the Global Water Intelligence's Water Agency of the Year award for 2020 for securing excellence in the integration of customer service and billing systems across the regions of Saudi Arabia (Hayat system).
Amid a fierce international competition including many global companies, the accolade was virtually received by the CEO of the Company, Eng Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Mowkley. The award is a key internationally-approved recognition in the water world. The competitors who are usually the best in the world are screened based on highly strict and competitive criteria.
The Hayat program provided a wide array of electronic services with the development of infrastructure at its core objectives, laying the foundation for a major digital transformation that unifies all services of the company nationwide in line with the initiatives for the National Transformation Program (NTP) and the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030.
Al-Mowkley said that the award came as a culmination of NWC's exceptional nine-month achievements in the Water Distribution Sector, which included the unification of services and process and the integration of seven systems into one unified system that serves all beneficiaries from the water and environmental services via the company's eBranch (e.nwc.com.sa). "The company meticulously studied the status quo of its technical infrastructure, operational capabilities and executive procedures and looked for ways to improve its customer services across the Kingdom. This helped us to accurately identify the requirements, proper execution mechanisms and potential risks, which paid off later in the dismantling of the seven billing systems. We used our highly qualified team that included members of all technical, functional and supervising levels to monitor weekly performance indicators and decide executive steps. All these efforts yielded a unified billing system, electronic platforms and various communication channels while discontinuing the issuance of paper bills.
The company started putting these plans in action firstly in Jazan region, which was fit for the implementation criteria. The application started on 21 March 2019 when our teams started working on the implementation pathways by training the customer service staff on the unified systems and operations, data transfer and transaction records, he added. They also gauged the quality of implementation and the applied mechanisms via two different pathways by simulating the data of the legacy system within the new system. This was done to ensure the integrity of the data of the monthly bills prior to issuance. Additionally, old account numbers were changed into new ones and linked to the operational records that include all data since the start of customer subscriptions with the aim of realizing the full implementation of the Hayat program.
Following the successful launch of the first phase and leveraging the learned lessons, the team set a new challenge of enriching the Hayat program with additional technical connection systems to boost operational efficiency and direct the implementation towards the Eastern Province. Meanwhile, the team worked on implementing the same in Jazan region to achieve service balance and comprehensiveness. The CEO said that the second phase in the eastern side of the country brought forth specific challenges including the lifespan of data which exceeded 30 years and the increasing number of customers that hit 350,000. The team went all out utilizing all its technical and professional capabilities to achieve success, culminating in the launch of the program in June 2019. This event kick started gradual transformation across the Kingdom with the program fully deployed by 28 December 2019.
"The Hayat system included the creation and transfer of 1.2 million customer accounts, in addition to the provision of service in 157 instead of 10 branches only. More than 55 million processes were transferred to the unified system while increasing the number of e-services' beneficiaries from 840,000 to more than two million customers. The team that comprised 420 employees spent more than 500,000 working hours on the project alongside 11,000 training hours for the regional teams."
Al-Mowkley noted that the project included the unification of the electronic services platform (e.nwc.com.sa) and the customer communication systems. "We replaced the previous 15 call centers and 21 social media accounts with one call center and one social media account that are both working 24/7 to serve all our customers nationwide. We leveraged a central database and specific performance indicators as well as a number of supporting systems that are managed by national professionals via a specific partnership with a local company with specialized expertise and supporting enablers to provide the best service to all customers of the company.
The Hayat system is a quantum leap towards service transformation in the water and environmental services sectors. It aims to enable digital transformation in the water services with specific plans within short spans. The program is only the first step towards providing comprehensive digital water services to all customers across the regions. NWC encourages all customers to register on its eBranch to benefit from all services and fulfill all their needs online around the hour; no need to visit the physical branches of the Water Directorates any more.