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Author      Title/Abstract      

Developing Cost/Benefits for The Implementation of Computer Technology at Water and Wastewater Utilities
Author: Richard Junnier
Date: 6/107
For presentation at WEF Specialty Conference: Computer Technologies for the Competitive Utility, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 16-19

While it is clear that computer technology can ultimately improve many specific functions within water and wastewater utilities--and thus the overall efficiency of the business--systematically identifying and documenting specific areas of cost savings are critical to quantifying the financial feasibility of such systems. Because these systems are typically expensive to implement, and areas of increased efficiency often appear abstract, establishing financial feasibility can be a challenging, and yet crucial task. Through Brown and Caldwell's systematic development process of performing field investigations and management interviews, we have identified a methodology to quantify a utility's potential return on their computer technology investment. The first step in the process is to develop an understanding of how a utility works through the development of business process flow diagrams (BFDs). These are not only used to gain understanding, and form the basis upon which a system will be designed, but can be used in identifying areas where automation will provide the greatest return. These high-return areas can not only be used for "selling" the system's benefits to the utility, but also used to prioritize areas of implementation and show immediate benefits.