Posted on 1 July 2011
The consortium aims at introducing an intelligent and affordable meter reading & billing concept. The concept is being developed in collaboration with PTI, the Business Development Group and ARA. The concept includes affordable and adaptable software that enables water companies to reduce administrative Non Revenue Water (NRW), reduce operational costs and that provides valuable management information. This will contribute to improved recovery of operational costs (more income and fewer expenses).
To assess the market potential of SAAS reading & billing software for Romanian water companies that enables reduction of administrative NRW. The market survey includes road shows that aim at finding water companies to pilot and demonstrate the software. At the end of the project a marketing/communication strategy will be developed, preferably together with a local partner who will sell the software.
- Reports with results of the market survey
- Road shows for the opportunities of the R&B system
- Customized and implemented R&B SAAS system
- A marketing and communication plan to sell the software
Many water companies in developing countries and countries in transition struggle with their financial position. Water companies do not collect enough money or their tariffs are not high enough (due to political reasons) to cover for operational costs. Reservations for future investments in tariff structures are mostly not included at all. Consequently, water companies face a downwards spiral. The quality of drinking water infrastructure and customer service will decline gradually, with a negative impact on public health and public trust in the drinking water supply. E.g.: water treatment does not perform, leakage increases, money collection fails, customers are reluctant to pay for poor service etc. Large donor investments (Worldbank etc) are needed to upgrade infrastructures and treatment systems. However, the financial position of the receiving water company must be improved as well to prevent new financial problems after the large investment projects are executed.
This challenge for a large part is based on high Non Revenue Water (NRW) rates. NRW includes physical losses (leakage) and administrative losses (under registration of customers, poor money collection, inadequate billing systems, illegal water use etc). In Romania average NRW is approximately 50%.
As described above many water companies lack financial resources to buy meter reading, billing and customer information software to reduce administrative NRW. Moreover, they do not have enough experience/expertise and focus to improve internal meter reading and billing processes. That is why donor agencies (e.g. Worldbank, EBRD) and private operators nowadays have more attention for improved meter reading, billing and administrative processes to decrease administrative NRW to cover current operational costs and future investments in the drinking water supply.
The meter reading & billing concept will significantly contribute to reduce NRW administrative losses and optimize internal administrative processes (meter reading, billing, money collection, customer databases). The software is provided as a SAAS service that is simple, flexible and well protected. Even more important the SAAS approach does not require large initial investments. The system includes a ‘pay per bill’ approach. By applying SAAS software local water companies do not need to invest in expensive ICT departments/infrastructure as hosting, software upgrades and technical support is provided online from The Netherlands. The SAAS approach could be breakthrough to reduce administrative NRW: without large investments a water company is able to increase its income (e.g. money collection) and at the same time optimize its internal processes (less operational costs). This creates an improved financial position to make reservations for future investments in the quality of the drinking water supply (e.g. improved water quality, less leakage, better customer service, increased public trust etc).
The R&B concept includes software that provides Romanian water companies with an affordable and flexible tool to:
- Reduce administrative NRW through improved customer administration (more bills sent);
- Reduce NRW through smart meter reading procedures backed-up with software (reduce under-registration and reduce illegal water use);
- Increase money collection without substantial extra efforts through billing software that provides multi-payments solutions (e.g. automatic invoicing), reliable bills (customer trust) and enables monitoring of debtors;
- Reduce complaints through historical water use;
- Improve internal meter reading and billing processes (do more with less);
- Better monitoring of water demand (water balance);
- Management information of water meter reading and billing.