ILOG, a leading provider of software components and services, announced that Thames Water has streamlined its conveyancing software system using ILOG JRules, a key offering in ILOG's Business Rules Management System product line -- a step that will enable the World's third largest water utility to achieve cost reductions amounting to more than 4.4 million pounds Sterling over the next five years.
Conveyancing -- the process of moving the legal ownership of property or land from one person to another -- requires up-to-date information from the water utility. Thames Water deals with more than 250,000 conveyancing requests every year and is committed to supplying accurate information about its water-delivery infrastructure to solicitors and licensed conveyancers.
ILOG JRules is being used as a key part of an initiative to consolidate the six different IT applications into one cohesive system. Because the new system enables Thames Water employees to add and modify the often-changing legal rules that drive conveyancing applications, ILOG JRules will also be used to help Thames Water remain compliant with current legislation affecting water services. ILOG's BRMS stores rules in a central repository, so that any changes and additions to the rules can be easily defined, integrated, and applied throughout the entire system. Prior to using ILOG JRules, Thames Water had to outsource rule changes -- costing an average of 7,000 pounds each and often requiring a year to implement. Now the technology allows rule changes to be made in real time.
In addition to supplying the software for the system, ILOG Professional Services worked with Thames Water and Wipro Technologies, the lead partner responsible for end to end systems implementation and integration, to define and implement the comprehensive set of business rules that will be part of the new system and will enable automation of manually performed tasks. The 30 fulltime employees who previously administered these tasks have been re-assigned to other customer service positions -- a move that is expected to save Thames Water 3 million pounds over five years. The improved speed of the new system has enabled the application response time to be halved from four days to two days, enhancing customer service.
Automating business rules not only improves the speed and accuracy with which tasks are carried out, it also enables data validation. At the hub of the system, ILOG JRules cross-references data from both new conveyancing requests and existing data. By flagging errors, and validating incoming information, Thames Water expects to save an additional 1.4 million pounds over the next five years. Peter Kaye, operations manager at Thames Water Asset Data Services, said: "With over 250,000 conveyancing requests submitted every year, it is imperative that the handling system is able to process applications as quickly as possible. There is no scope for hold-up, so any changes we need make to the assessment criteria need to be integrated into the system promptly. ILOG JRules provides us with the flexibility we need to meet this objective".
Five decision-making business staff administer and run the system. They are able to use their understanding of the business process to make changes that work in real life. Gone is the need for technical developers, as rules are now created and altered in plain English with a simple point-and-click interface. Thames Water staff have noted that with the simplicity of making a rule change, more Thames Water employees share ideas and try additional approaches to business problems. Suggestions can be simulated quickly, without huge expense.
Peter Kaye added: "There has been a cultural shift within our division at Thames Water. We have noticed a lot more of the team putting forward new ideas, especially as they can see the results so quickly. The system has improved because of this, and the team has become a lot more involved with the conveyancing process."