Software the solution for navigating water rights changes

When faced with some of the biggest legislative changes to the water rights space in more than 100 years, Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) turned to technology to navigate through turbulent waters.

The water entitlements sector in Australia, which is worth an estimated $25 billion, and $4 billion in Victoria alone has gone from strength to strength following the introduction of the National Water Initiative (NWI) in 2004 and the Commonwealth Water Act in 2007.

Both the NWI and the Commonwealth Water Act aimed to provide a national blueprint for water reform including a long term strategy for how Australia manages, measures, plans for, values, prices and trades water for its highest economic use. In Victoria, the implementation of large scale water reform in 2007 under the Victorian Government's blueprint for water reform "Our Water Our Future" rewrote the way water entitlements were managed, traded and accounted for across the State.

With more than 700 staff, G-MW provides water-related services across more than 68,000 square kilometres in the Murray Darling Basin region.

As one of Australia's largest rural water entitlement managers, G-MW had several priorities in tackling these industry changes.

In response to these changes the organisation realised it needed to position itself to readily adapt to future legislative changes and drive improved efficiency within its business processes through enhanced business information systems.

To tackle these objectives, G-MW implemented TechnologyOne Financials and Property & Rating in July 2007.

G-MW business systems manager John Vise said, "When it came to navigating change, getting it right from the start was critical".

"It was important for G-MW to choose a mature system that could handle future changes and migrations, so the organisation wouldn't have to turn to consultants for advice and support.

"What we were looking for was a complete technological solution which would transform our business to meet specific legislative demands, streamline our customer management system and preserve a high standard of customer service.

"If we didn't evolve with these changes we were simply going to be left behind and not be able to deliver quality information and service to our customers.

"Staff also needed easy access to all our corporate information to help us plan for the future of our business and produce multiple reports."

To help deal with the ongoing complexities of water delivery rights and water entitlements, G-MW used the TechnologyOne Property & Rating system to help them establish a fully integrated and flexible revenue, regulatory and water management solution.

The Property & Rating system delivers integrated management of property, land leases and address information via an advanced database, promoting customer service and combining regulatory framework with revenue and billing capability to boost administration facilities and greater control.

"The whole process was seamless, from initial consulting on our business requirements, to implementation, training and uptake. TechnologyOne didn't just hand the solution over to us expecting us to work it out for ourselves, they worked closely with us to make sure we could use it in the real world," Mr Vise said.

"From a business perspective this project was expected to pay for itself in five years, but we have found it has paid for itself far sooner.

"To put a monetary value on efficiency, all you need to do is compare figures from pre-TechnologyOne systems in 2006 to post-TechnologyOne in 2007.

"We went from spending $150,000 on processing drought rebates in 2006 to $10,000 in 2007, so this result in itself confirmed for us the financial benefits of having a system, which put the power back into our own hands.

"Ultimately we are spending less time on data and administration and more on taking steps to improve the value of service to customers.

"There is no doubt in our minds that technology has been critical to ensuring we were not only able to navigate, adapt and evolve to what has been some of the biggest changes to face our industry sector, but to also ensure that we continue to do so."