Customer testimonials  

Interview with Khalid Laanait, Suez Environnement

Khalid Laanait was Deputy Director of the Odysséeprogramme at Suez Environnement Here he presents some of the project's challenges. We asked this dynamic executive, a mathematician by training, about his 20 years of experience, 16 of them in the management of public water services, and his knowledge of the problems of setting up customer information systems.

Can you present your career?

I studied science at university and have a postgraduate diploma in Applied Mathematics from Pierre and Marie-Curie Paris VI University, together with a master's in management control and corporate finance, which led me into industry in financial roles.

I have been the deputy director responsible for business for the Odysséeprogramme since September 2010, having been Customer Operations Director for the City of Paris contract. I am thus responsible for implementing the customer information system for 5 million customers, using Oracle CC&B. After the building of the solution and support for its supervision in 2013, I coordinate the transformation of customer activities and change management for the 1500 employees concerned by the programme.

I have 20 years of professional experience, 16 of them in all areas of the management of public drinking water, sanitation and electricity distribution (technical, economic management, sales and customer relations) in France and abroad. I have held several operational management posts in Morocco, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates – and Normandy. This has led me to work in a variety of cultural contexts and to manage multicultural teams.

Two memories in particular of very rich experiences in both human and professional terms have stayed with me from my past career in the water field. The first was in Morocco in 1998, with the transition from direct public management to the outsourcing of the water service in Casablanca, and the second was in France, with the Paris water service returning to direct public control in 2009 – completing the cycle of contractual management modes! In addition, my time with Lyonnaise des Eaux involved a variety of operational posts, from cost centre management to profit centre management, including projects such as the establishment of the Customer Relations Centre for 550,000 customers in north-west France and the remote reading system (smart meters) for customers on the Left Bank in Paris. Finally, I continue to contribute my expertise to commercial bids for contracts with local authorities and industrial clients in France and abroad.

What does the Odysséeprogramme consist of ?

The Odysséeprogramme involves overhauling the Lyonnaise des Eaux/Suez Environnement customer information system using the Oracle Utilities Customer Care & Billing solution. More specifically, the goal is to renovate the billing and customer relationship management (CRM) system. The programme began in May 2011, with the end of deployment scheduled for the end of 2015.

Odyssée was deployed in 2013 in a pilot project to test the robustness of the solution, its appropriateness for the needs expressed by the project client and the staff's acceptance of the product, before national deployment in early 2014 affecting all the areas relating to customers, finance and interventions on customer premises.

Odyssée replaced 20 applications and covers the whole customer value chain – meter reading, billing, dispute management, debt collection, customer relations and accounts. We have 2400 contracts with local authorities and about 900 agreements with other contracting authorities that will need to be configured in Odyssée by September 2015!

As is often the case with this type of project, the key factor for success is the Change Management aspect, and considerable attention is devoted to this. One of the challenges of the programme is to guarantee continuity of service for our consumers while improving our employees' working tools.

How strategic is the renovation of the customer information system for Suez Environnement ?

Lyonnaise des Eaux aims to improve the quality and performance of the services it delivers to local authorities and industrial customers, particularly in the fields of drinking water distribution and sanitation. As the information system benefits from the latest technologies, it will enable Lyonnaise des Eaux to support the commercial development of new offerings and new services and improve its knowledge and monitoring of its consumer and local authority customers to better meet their needs.

The ultimate goal of the programme is to improve the quality of the service provided to the customer. Odyssée is a means for Lyonnaise des Eaux of achieving the customer ambition it has set itself, to be the number 1 for customer relations in 2015. It is also about being competitive in an increasingly aggressive competitive environment, and the solution offered by Oracle seems the ideal tool to achieve this excellence.

The Odysséeprogramme reports directly to senior management due to its strategic positioning, and this enables a shorter decision-making circuit suited to the operational constraints and complexity of its environment.
Odyssée is much more than an IT project; it is a project to transform the customer activities of Lyonnaise des Eaux. We have reviewed all our business processes – customer relations, finance, intervention scheduling and accounts. One of the challenges is to ensure operational staff sign up to the transformation. Beyond raising awareness, it is important to demonstrate active listening and empathy to make the change a success together (changes are not managed, they are lived!). It is a project in which the human dimension is a key factor for success.
My work thus also involves supporting managers so that the transformation takes place as smoothly as possible and ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction and sharing the same passion – to serve our end customers !

What do you expect from your service providers ? What is their role ? What do you think are the criteria for evaluating a good service provider in a project ?

We have built a client-supplier role with our providers. A good service provider has the same motivation and commitment as a Lyonnaise des Eaux employee. They have to feel concerned by the same issues and share the same objectives. They also have an advisory role in managing the programme's operations, because this is not our core business.

In this regard, we have to acknowledge that IT-NewVision is a top service provider, and has been involved since the programme was launched. IT-NewVision's teams contribute their technical skills: their expertise in managing projects on this scale in the water sector is a considerable benefit. Another element I appreciate is the commitment of IT-NewVision's teams, their availability, the flexibility and the relevance of the recommendations made by the CC&B experts.

IT-NewVision is the second-biggest service provider of the Odysséeprogramme after our integrator, Cap Gemini, and the relationship of trust we have built up makes it a high-quality partner that is much appreciated within the programme.

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