The 122-Day Upgrade

The oldest public water utility company in continental Europe supplies drinking water to around two million consumers in Germany. (Photo: Hamburger Wasserwerke)

Its standard maintenance contract for the SAP R/3 software had already expired, so HWW decided to upgrade to the SAP ERP application, which has around 300 functional enhancements. “Using SAP ERP as the basis, we can meet the new requirements of the business departments and ensure that we stay one step ahead in terms of technology in the utilities industry,” says Peter Saile, head of system planning at HWW.

Only minimal downtimes

HWW completed the technical implementation in just 122 days with the help of external consultants DSC. The system switched from SAP R/3 to SAP ERP, including the SAP for Utilities solution portfolio, over a weekend. The upgrade caused only minimal disruptions to the work of HWW’s business departments. Even online operations were only suspended for a short period.

The utility customer electronic services application, which enables consumers to maintain data such as meter readings and bank details themselves, was soon available again. HWW had taken this module from the old solution and integrated it into the new software. “This was more work to start with, but meant that we needed one less system in the end,” says Saile.

Adapting HWW-specific add-ons

Water pump (Photo: Hamburger Wasserwerke)

As part of the technical upgrade, HWW-specific add-ons were also integrated. These had been previously implemented in the SAP for Utilities software. In addition to the correspondence interface for Microsoft Word, which enables the single and mass printing of individual letters, the external consultants adapted the dynamic input help to the new solution.

With this add-on, master data can be defined using SAP standards, making it fast and easy to create new customer files. The user interface is clearly designed so all the data can be entered quickly. Many standard values are already there, reducing the amount of information that needs to be entered. Only necessary fields are displayed.

The SAP customer interaction center also boasts another HTML-based add-on: HTML customer information. This functionality enables service center employees to process customer requests much faster. Open items, budget billing plans, contract conditions, and meter and consumption information are displayed clearly and can be found easily. The team also had to adapt these additional functions to the new version of the SAP software.

Careful planning and the right partner

Hamburger Wasserwerke
Hamburger Wasserwerke is the oldest public water utility company in continental Europe. With a pipeline network of 3,400 miles, it supplies drinking water to around two million consumers in Germany. The water comes from 460 springs located up to 1,300 feet below the ground and is processed in 18 plants. In 1924, HWW was established as a limited company and separated from the state-run waterworks that had been responsible for Hamburg’s water since 1848.

According to Saile, the smooth transfer was made possible by careful preparation: “We tested the technical environment several times and imported a number of patches. What’s more, a week before the actual upgrade, we performed a trial run, during which we developed a meticulous schedule. We stuck to this schedule when we came to do the real thing.”

The choice of DSC as IT service provider also had a positive impact. “The DSC consultants had already supported us when we first implemented the SAP for Utilities solutions, so they were very familiar with our system. Back then, they met our requirements and customized the solution to suit our needs. So it was clear that they would be our consultants of choice for the upgrade,” Saile explains.