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How Yarra Valley Water saved costs, optimised resources and enhanced online customer experience through their easyACCESS portal
A Alchin
Publication Date (Web): 4 November 2016

Yarra Valley Water (YVW) has implemented the easyACCESS system, with an industry first FICO (Fair Isaacs Corporation) business rules engine to map processes and streamline the decision-making for the developers, plumbers and builders. Although FICO is widely used in the finance sector, this is a first for the water industry. Typically for the water industry this is a multi-step process, however, in 80% of YVW cases, easyACCESS automatically produces conditions of connection, including products, services and costs required. The new technology has dramatically reduced turnaround times, strengthened by providing consistent responses to customers.

The easyACCESS portal uses a business rules engine (FICO) that largely automates decisions for users based on property, spatial, billing and asset data. The system determines where the business rules engine can make decisions on behalf of users. For example, in a single application for water and sewer connections, where 27 decisions are required, easyACCESS makes 81% of these decisions on behalf of the user, who only has to answer five questions. Combined with a user interface, the engine has reduced the average time to complete an application to less than five minutes. 

Even with a 22% increase in development applications, YVW has found that automating, where appropriate, significantly contributes to improved business results; including a saving of $2.5M (AUD) a year, resource optimisation and enhanced customer outcomes. The team operating easyACCESS now has an outstanding culture with an OCI (Organisational Cultural Index) improvement of 41% in the positive measures.

The launch of easyACCESS to large enterprises is proving a major success. Dedicated online support specialists visit clients to demonstrate easyACCESS and users are provided with account access, training support, site visits, monthly accounts and dedicated support for all projects.

The rules engine is based on the Water Metering and Servicing guidelines (applied to all of Melbourne and used in other parts of Victoria) and Water Services Association of Australia. This provides great opportunities for other water utilities to use the business rules engine, with potential to move to a shared platform for the water industry. The future of this technology is very exciting for the water industry.

The digital strategy has delivered an improved customer experience resulting in improvements to staff satisfaction and increased output. YVW continues to focus on growing the quality of the online customer experience for the benefit of all customers. In 2015 YVW received a worldwide FICO Award for Decision Management Innovation and presented at the annual FICO conference in Washington.

Sam Austin, General Manager, Sustainable Development at Yarra Valley Water, said, “Processing new applications had been a labour-intensive process and we felt developers were waiting too long. We have made a significant effort to map our processes and decision making. Previously, much of this resided in people’s heads or was scattered in documentation. With the new system, this information is built into a robust, rules-based solution, yielding significant rewards for Yarra Valley Water and developers alike.”


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