Interview: Q&A on the Go Live of Copperleaf Portfolio at Northumbrian Water Group
The Copperleaf® Decision Analytics Solution, including Copperleaf Portfolio™, is now live at Northumbrian Water Group (NWG). We chat with Denise Smith and Keith Haslett from NWG, Kris Westall from our implementation partner Asset Management Consulting Ltd. (AMCL), and John Snow, Senior Consultant at Copperleaf, about the implementation and how it’s played a pivotal role in Northumbrian Water Group’s asset management transformation journey.
Can you tell us a bit about your organisation?
Denise: “NWG supplies water and sewerage services to almost 4.4 million people. We provide 1.1 billion litres of water each day to 794,000 properties in Essex and Suffolk, with water and sewerage services delivered to 1.3 million properties in the north east of England. Our goal is to be the national leader in the provision of sustainable water and wastewater services, which means that our asset investment planning needs to take multiple strategic priorities into account. It’s not enough for us to simply manage cost and maintain a reliable, resilient service, we want to lead in innovation, improve the environment and contribute to local communities too.”
Kris: “AMCL is a world-leading specialist asset management consultancy. We deliver a wide range of services across all asset-intensive industries, helping clients to realise value from their assets. This includes providing independent advice on asset management technology selection and implementation.”
Can you share more about your role?
Keith: “I was the business sponsor for the Copperleaf implementation, which was our chosen Service Planning tool and part of a wider transformation programme designed to improve Service Planning at NWG.”
Denise: “I was the Programme Manager for the Service Planning Transformation Programme (SPTP), which kicked off in November 2021. As part of this role I was responsible for coordinating the implementation of Copperleaf Portfolio.”
Kris: “I’m a managing consultant at AMCL. I led a workstream utilising the Copperleaf solution to identify opportunities to re-optimise the business plan for the current regulatory period (AMP7), in parallel with the technology implementation programme which was timed to support building the business plan for the next regulatory period (AMP8).”
John: “As the project manager for the implementation, I worked closely with the SPTP team and other stakeholders at Northumbrian Water Group to deliver this project. In addition, I coordinated the project team at Copperleaf, and led the overall design and configuration of the system.”
What did your asset management process look like before implementing the Copperleaf solution?
Denise: “We predominantly relied on Excel, in-house systems, and manual processes that weren’t integrated. Previously, we took a risk-based prioritisation approach, whereas now with Copperleaf we have a value-led asset management strategy, which enables us to see how the decisions we make stack up against our strategic priorities.”
The Copperleaf solution has been the fastest-ever mobilised application at Northumbrian Water Group.
Northumbrian Water Group
Why did you choose to work with Copperleaf?
Denise: “We needed a system that could support value-based decision making during regulatory business planning as well as enabling in-delivery period replanning and optimisation. We wanted to be able to run and analyse multiple scenarios at speed, instead of taking weeks to develop a reprioritised plan. Based on Copperleaf’s reputation and our business requirements, they were the best fit.”
Keith: “We looked at different products out there in the market and had conversations with a number of existing Copperleaf clients. It is seen as a robust solution, with very good feedback from those companies.”
What are the key benefits of implementing the Copperleaf solution?
Denise: “Key benefits include a consistent approach and standardised methodology for investment decision making. The implementation will also free up time for our planning teams, who no longer have to spend so long calculating risks and costs to identify the optimal solution.”
Keith: “It’s allowed us to compare and contrast investment decisions across the entire business, using the common currency created by the Copperleaf Value Framework. We have been able to optimise the remaining investment in this period (AMP7), and will be able to use it to build the five-year business plan required for the next price review process in 2024.”
John: “The Copperleaf Value Framework introduces new value metrics, such as bioresources net gain, river water quality, and PSR for vulnerable customers, which enable the business to evaluate a range of investment scenarios, performance requirements, and constraints. This supports the planning process and will allow NWG to build the best plan for the business.”
Have there been any other benefits?
John: “The solution will be integrated directly with Oracle Project Accounting to give investment planners clear visibility of actual expenditure on executing projects. This will improve Northumbrian’s ability to adapt investment plans more quickly and easily throughout the regulatory reporting period.”
Kris: “Our workstream was able to identify significant savings that Northumbrian Water Group could realise in the remainder of this regulatory period. We completed this in parallel with the early phases of the technology implementation, meaning that the programme was delivering tangible benefits to Northumbrian from the beginning.”
Keith: “From an asset management team perspective, working with Copperleaf has definitely enhanced the awareness and capability of the staff that are using it, which has been very positive.”
Moving from risk to value-based decision making will help Northumbrian Water Group execute projects that deliver the highest overall value to the business and its customers.
What do you think made this project successful?
Denise: “This project has been a significant success, and one of the reasons for that was teamwork. The NWG, Copperleaf, and AMCL teams worked through challenges together and solved problems collaboratively to ensure joint success.”
John: “A few things really stood out—great teamwork between Copperleaf, AMCL and the SPTP team, strong commitment and contribution from all project-level and business-level stakeholders to ensure the project delivers maximum benefit, and impeccable focus from the SPTP team to execute a complex project that achieves technical and business needs.”
How would you describe working with Copperleaf?
Denise: “Copperleaf has some very knowledgeable people on the team, and the Copperleaf solution has been the fastest-ever mobilised application at Northumbrian Water Group.”
Kris: “We enjoyed working with Copperleaf and getting to know the software better. The capabilities of the system meant that our team could spend more time on analysis and insight and less time crunching numbers. There were some challenging times for the whole team but we pulled together and delivered a great outcome for NWG.”
What’s next on Northumbrian Water Group’s asset management journey?
John: “We’re currently exploring the deployment of Investment Capture, a Copperleaf Portfolio feature that streamlines the entry of investment requests. We are also looking at the potential benefits of incorporating Copperleaf’s asset risk modelling to inform investment planning, and how Copperleaf Value™ will allow the company to create and modify value models and evolve their value framework independently as business needs change.”
Keith: “We will complete the delivery of the Service Planning Transformation Programme and that, along with using the Copperleaf system, will help us improve our performance in the next round of Ofwat’s asset maturity scoring.”
Kris: “We would like to see Northumbrian Water Group’s asset management community continue to embed consistent, value-focused asset investment planning processes, enabling it to achieve its goal of leading innovation and reliable, resilient service provision.”
Read more success stories to find out how our clients are benefitting from the Copperleaf solution. Learn more about our partner AMCL here.