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SUMS.WATER increased billing accuracy and stopped non-revenue losses for Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority

August 20, 2011



Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, Phnom Penh City, Cambodia

Business Solution

Synergistic Utilities Management System.Water(SUMS.WATER)


  1. SPEED:
    Accurate real-time financial updates are now compiled13 times faster on the replacement system
    City-wide on-demand transaction processing increases counter service levels
    New, ready-to-bill customer record creation within 72hours that guarantees customer satisfaction
    Accurate drill down accountability, with complete audit trail to help decision makers and regulators
    Improve billing collections from 130,000 metered connections by 20 times,improved bottom line

The Client

Providing a clean and safe water supply to the population of Phnom Penh City was important to Mr. EkSonn Chan - the then newly appointed General Director of Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) in 1993. Since 1993, PPWSA has become a public water enterprise and improved its water connection network to serve 70 percent of Phnom Penh City from a mere 20 percent in 1993. In order to supply clean and safe water, PPWSA must grow its piped water distribution network and income generating activities.

The Situation

PPWSA currently manages a water distribution network of more than 280 kilometers, supplying 63,000m of water daily, with the newest of pipes more than 40 years old and the oldest, laid more than a century ago. These aging pipes leaked water and must be replaced utilizing funds generated from its billing income. At the time, PPWSA operated at a loss with an annual billing income of KHR 0.7 billion (USD187, 909), against an operating cost of KHR 1.4 billion (USD 375,819).

The Challenge

Mr. Ek realized the public water enterprise faced many challenges like leaky old pipes,illegal connections, insufficient water meters,poor record keeping, inaccurate customer billing and poor accounting discipline.To highlight its billing inadequacies, PPWSA had at the time, a grossly inadequate, standalone billing system. The billing system had been in use since 1995 to process a maximum of 3,000 monthly bills. However, PPWSA needed to bill 20,000 metered connections per month. Mr. Ek had also planned to install 15,000 new metered connections per year and process more than 90,000 monthly bills.

The Need

PPWSA sought for a complete, fully integrated and customizable ERP water utility system for water / public utilities companies that could function in a modularized manner with subsystems such as Water Billing and Management, Job and Resource Management, Human Resources and Payroll and Inventory Control and more.

For Mr. Ek, the new water utility solution must /must be (able to):

  • Correct metering inaccuracies and improper billing records. PPWSA had a poor collection ratio of only 50 percent in 1993 as it used a standalone billing system which had many limitations; it couldn't operate in a client-server environment or distributed processing environment, and doesn't operate in real-time.
  • Handle customer records, record meter readings, human resources and fixed assets management, secure billing collection records,provide accurate accounting and produce financial statements.
  • Scalable to cope with PPWSA's increased customer base and meter connections – the application processing backlog was in months, not days.
  • Capture current billing information, customer information and water usage history in real time.

"Apart from functionality, we sought a technology partner with cross-border multicultural experience who can solve the challenge of changing mindsets and work habits," shared Mr. Ek.

The Solution

In 2000, a team of PPWSA top executives and World Bank consultants visited Synergistic Innovations Sdn. Bhd, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, who then proposed the use of Synergistic Utilities Management System.Water(SUMS.Water).

"SUMS.Water fulfilled our stringent requirements and it's a very cost effective solution," said PPWSA accounting and finance director Mr. Ros Kimleang. A parallel run approach was used to implement SUMS.Water - deploying modules like General Ledger, Fixed Assets, Inventory Control, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Job Costing / Project Management, Human Resources, Payroll, Water Billing and House Connection.

The Improvements

The post-deployment results justified PPWSA's conviction in SUMS.Water. "SUMS.Water can process cash payments received at our counters," he said. "Transactions are updated real-time to our Account Receivable and General Ledger," he said, adding that both were previously not possible. PPWSA also experienced other benefits like:

  • On demand transaction processing:
    New customer applications were processed in 72 hours. "This is a marked improvement from the previous system that took up to 2 months. When users apply, we make the connection but billing only starts after the fourth month. It took ages to create a new customer account in the old system. With SUMS.Water, it helped increase our financial liquidity and cash flow.
  • Quicker information processing period:
    SUMS.Water improved PPWSA's update frequency by 13 times. Its ledgers were up-to date within seven days compared to 90 days in the previous system.
  • Accurate drill down accountability and audit trail:
    SUMS.Water accurately showed PPWSA's financial health. "With SUMS.Water, we can determine our financial status every quarter. Previously, such an assessment would have taken us a year," reveals Ros; adding he was now able to drill down to the source level.
  • Improved billing income:
    In year 2005, SUMS.Water handled records of more than 130,000 metered connections. This accuracy increased PPWSA's billing income by 20 times and generated an average monthly billing income of KHR100 million (USD26, 844). "SUMS.Water can comfortably handle more than twice its present capacity, well within PPWSA's metered water connection growth plans," said Mr. Ek.

A Successful Partnership

The successful partnership between PPWSA and Synergistic Innovations is based on trust and mutual respect. "We commend Synergistic Innovation's expertise in managing change. Their level of professionalism and cultural sensitivity was a key differentiating factor," said Mr. Ek. The collaboration effort overcame language barriers and lowered the initial resistance to change. "We credit PPWSA's enthusiasm and commitment in making this a successful deployment. Their support was instrumental," remarked Synergistic Innovations managing director Yap Yen Sam. The partnership was unique, according to Synergistic Innovations general manager CJ Oon. "We were unable to speak Khmer and were initially worried about our ability to effectively exchange ideas with PPWSA. However the overwhelming enthusiasm from PPWSA quickly put this matter to rest." In addition, SUMS.WATER robustness and zero fault tolerance qualities help add a layer of assurance.

Building On Success

Since the implementation of SUMS.WATER, PPWSA has moved on to become the proud recipient of several internationally recognized awards - namely, the Asia Development Bank (ADB) Water Prize in 2004 for integrated water management advancements within the Asian region, and more recently, the Stockholm Industry Water Award in 2010 for sustainable water management.

In a rare recognition for his contributions to society, Mr. Ek himself has been given the honor of the highly coveted Ramon Magsaysay Award awarded by the Philippines government (2006).

About SUMS.Water

Synergistic Utilities Management System.Water (SUMS.WATER) is a total solution with integrated modules like Financials, Water Billing and Management, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory Control, Job and Resource Management, Fixed Assets, Human Resource and Payroll; providing a rich environment for quick decision making.

SUMS.Water - powered by Microsoft Navision, is modular, scalable, reliable and flexible. Any or all of the modules may be combined, integrated and customized to create a perfectly tailored water management solution.

"We credit PPWSA's enthusiasm and commitment to make this a successful deployment. Their support was instrumental," Yap Yen Sam, Managing Director

"We commend Synergistic Innovation's expertise in managing change. Their level of professionalism and cultural sensitivity was a key differentiators," EkSonn Chan, General Director

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