Behind the Scenes: ERP 6.0 at Waterworks

Robert Fritsch, CIO of Budapest Waterworks, talks with (Foto: Mark Arato)
Robert Fritsch, CIO of Budapest Waterworks, talks with (photo: Mark Arato)

On the tenth floor of Budapest Waterworks’ angular company headquarters in Újlipótváros, a neighborhood in the 13th district of Budapest, Hungary, Robert Fritsch offers us water with lemon and we sit down at a small table. Fritsch is CIO of Fővárosi Vízművek, known in English as Budapest Waterworks. The room is sparsely decorated and modestly furnished. Margaret Island – in the middle of the Danube – is just a stone’s throw away. Water is very much the prevailing element, because Budapest Waterworks supplies drinking water to around two million people, which is more than the population of the Hungarian capital, where some 1.7 million people live. As a result, around a fifth of all Hungarians are customers of Budapest Waterworks.

We’re here to talk about ERP software from SAP, which the company has been using since 1998. Twelve years ago, Budapest Waterworks implemented SAP R/3, making the utility company one of SAP’s first customers in Hungary. And since mid-2008, the latest release of the SAP ERP with ECC 6.0 application has been running on the company servers – see also EHP: Keeping SAP Up to Date. But let’s start at the beginning. As soon as we enter the canteen, we realize that this is a company with a long tradition. To reinforce this image, the famous Hungarian goulash is on the menu today for the 1,200 employees.

The city of Budapest grew dramatically, so the water supply had to be expanded continuously over the past 132 years to meet demand. Today, the company supplies seven cities and 16 villages with water – in addition to Budapest itself. On average, approximately 130 million gallons (500,000 m3) of water are supplied to domestic households every day. Another 2.4 million gallons (9,000 m3) flow into industry, but only since 2004. In 1997, Budapest Waterworks became a joint stock company, with the shares distributed among a number of shareholders.

Budapest Waterworks both “produces” and treats water. The company is responsible for transporting water throughout the city’s pipeline system, which measures over 3,000 miles. From a technical perspective, everything functions automatically: The reservoirs, wells, pump houses, and water towers are all connected. Every year, around 13.57 miles of pipeline undergo repairs.

Next page: State-of-the-art information technology

Main entrance at Budapest Waterworks (photo: Frank Völkel)
Main entrance at Budapest Waterworks (photo: Frank Völkel)

State-of-the-art information technology

Robert Fritsch talks about the ERP system (Foto: Mark Arato)
Robert Fritsch talks about the ERP system (photo: Mark Arato)

For Robert Fritsch, up-to-date IT equipment is a priority and he says he has a firm grip on the company’s IT systems. Of the 1,200 employees, approximately 600 work with SAP software every day. All the PC systems and notebooks are supplied by Hewlett-Packard, are less than three years old, and run Windows XP. Since the beginning of the year, preparations have been underway for the switch to Windows 7 see also Windows 7: Compatibility with Citrix and SAP. Originally, Budapest Waterworks purchased computers from Digital Equipment Corporation, which was acquired by Compaq at the end of the 1990s. When HP acquired Compaq, Budapest Waterworks is still remained to use HP servers. Of the 1,000 PCs and notebooks, around 200 are replaced every year.

With many changes in the IT infrastructure, Fritsch regards internal training as the biggest challenge. Budapest Waterworks has a separate training area for employees, who are only confronted with the necessary changes. Fritsch has streamlined his IT department to work more efficiently: Around two years ago, forty people worked in the department. But now, 30 employees tackle the same tasks.

Hardware, Software: HP Servers and Oracle Database

Like many companies of this size, Budapest Waterworks uses Unix as the operating system for all SAP servers. To be more specific, the company deploys HP-UX, on which the SAP system operates. The SAP system saves data to an Oracle database.

Next page: One step at a time – ERP and modules

Budapest Waterworks supplying 2 Million people with potable water (photo: Frank Völkel)
Budapest Waterworks supplying 2 million people with potable water (photo: Frank Völkel)

One step at a time – ERP and modules

Some 12 years ago, Budapest Waterworks implemented its first ERP software from SAP with the core modules FI (financial accounting) and CO (controlling). In 2001, it went live with SAP software for interaction center (CIC). Then, in 2003, Budapest Waterworks launched its first business warehouse from SAP, which replaced a solution provided by a small Hungarian vendor. Last year (2009), the system was upgraded to the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse component, because large volumes of data now have to be managed. As well as ERP functions like accounting, logistics, and human resources, integrated features for supplier relationship management (SRM), financials (FI), controlling (CO), and electronic reporting mean that the amount of data is increasing. Conveniently, there’s an intranet portal to display all the SRM functions.

Északdunántúli Vízmű waterworks gains BMC certification

Hungary is clearly one of the frontrunners among the economies of Eastern Europe, with most business activity taking place in and around the capital Budapest. For example, the first BMC-certified solution in the region of Central and Eastern Europe is in Hungary: Since February 2010, the Északdunántúli Vízmű (North-Transdanubium Waterworks) has been operating a system to enhance its customer service. Thanks to this solution, the more than 100.000 customers can now submit their water meter readings over the phone, with no other human intervention. To do this, they use the SAP Business Communication Management in SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – see also Shedding Light on Customers with SAP CRM 7.0.

Water Consumption: Smart Metering?

Fritsch finds the idea of smart metering in the water industry interesting – it would enable the availability of all water volumes to be recorded electronically. However, he points out that the structures in the water supply industry are much more complex than in, for example, the energy industry. Dependless of it, Fritsch says that they are on the test phase with the SAP AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) solution for a possible implementation- see also SAP UC 2009: Electricity Meters 2.0.

Paris of the East - View from fortress at the hill Gellert (photo: Frank Völkel)
Paris of the East – View from fortress at the hill Gellert (photo: Frank Völkel)