Anglian Water is the largest water company in England and Wales by geographic area. They operate 1,257 water and wastewater treatment works, supplying 6.3 million domestic and business customers in the east of England and Hartlepool.
Business Needs and Objectives
Anglian Water began their Operations Management Center (OMC) implementation in May 2004, and by November 2006 all the infrastructure and IT was in place, allowing the business to push ahead with plans to adopt a mobile solution.
This was achieved through the use of SAP Mobile Asset Management for Utilities (MAU) with SAP Mobile Interface (MI), allowing 1,200 field workforce to communicate with the backend system remotely, passing real-time data from customer visits into their SAP system.
The mobility platform for Anglian Water Services continued to evolve and inevitably saw the creation of a number of disparate solutions across the business.
Challenges for a unified mobile SAP solution included the following:
- Complex business and regulatory requirements (a 2010 rule required field engineers to actively update information while still in the field)
- Increasing future demands (despite the UK’s 20% population growth from 1990 to 2010, Anglian Water continues to provide the same amount of water today – almost 1.2 billion liters daily)
- Scalability and performance issues (English and Welsh water companies’ 2011 responsibility for many more sewerage and waste water pipes, an overnight 70% pipeline increase)
Anglian Water required a mobile solution that could accommodate all types of field-working, was flexible to changes in its operating model, would support the use of contractors, and enable the delivery of operational efficiencies. In 2011, Anglian Water commenced the rollout of the new SAP Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) to achieve these objectives.
This technology choice meant that Anglian Water would be leading the way as one of the first organizations to implement SUP in the UK. Being a ‘first of its kind’ implementation meant that Anglian Water was embarking on a huge change and would be challenging the status quo of its competitors. It also mean that it would need an expert partner to help it navigate the complexities of the testing and implementation.
The QualiTest Solution
Anglian Water led the way as one of the first organizations to implement SAP Unwired Platform (SUP) in the UK. However, moving to a SUP platform meant embarking on a huge change and with this came additional complexities. As well as providing a smooth implementation, ensuring optimal performance was also a critical requirement. Testing these new technologies required a fresh approach, outside of the traditional scope. Experior, an SAP-specialty company owned by QualiTest, was the only vendor that was identified as being capable of delivering the required knowledge and expertise in this area.
Performance testing for Anglian Water challenged traditional testing techniques. Testing a new technology always requires an innovative ‘outside the box’ approach and the Anglian Water SUP implementation project was no exception.
Initial testing focused on the company’s main operational scenarios and enabled us to robustly test the performance of the SUP and Afaria servers. We used the following scenario to simulate the expected peak and stress loads onto the SUP server, using HP LoadRunner to monitor degradation against the established baseline. Due to the nature of the client application LoadRunner was unable to recognize the client front-end during recording, couldn’t interpret SUP compression/encryption and additionally saw only one instance where the application could be opened for execution on a single device. As a result, scripting was focused on the capture and posting of the HTTP messages that sit behind the client front-end. These messages, from one client to the server were replicated in order to process the different work orders for each of the five business areas.
The LoadRunner Controller was used to control and monitor the load to ensure the load profile was realistic. Additionally, in order to launch multiple applications at once, we hosted the application on a Citrix server. Alongside this, we also developed a Visual Basic script to enable testing of the Afaria server’s performance.
Mobility is not just about connecting to the system, but connecting complete business networks – back office, field staff and customers via mobile devices. A challenging project for the team, we developed a structured testing methodology and governance across the entire project.
This innovative approach ensured the new application performed to the required load, guaranteed a good user experience, provided confidence and reliability, and facilitated a smooth Go Live.
- Business-critical issues which would have rendered the system unviable were identified and fixed before Go Live
- Opportunities to increase system performance were identified and actioned, optimizing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by eliminating the need to purchase additional servers
- Under-performing components were identified, enabling tuning or additional hardware provision to be sourced, preventing critical issues from arising
- Efficiencies in both testing time and costs were achieved from robust, structured performance testing with reusable test structures providing additional future governance
- Ease of use and reliability gave Field Engineers confidence in the system, enabling them to make a positive impact from day one
- Greater workforce productivity. Faster, more informed decisions at point of action led to more responsive customer service and satisfaction
- Our solution included Functional (Mobile) Testing, Performance (Mobile) Testing, Testing Tool Mobilization, Regression Pack Creation and Managed Testing
- Went live at a fraction of the cost of the traditional testers, with no P1 incidents post-live
- As a result, the utility company is making plans for improving its infrastructure well in advance to anticipate change, and to enable services to be maintained and improved