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Directors Blog: September 2017

Success is derived by learning from the challenges we face – by Claire Yeates

Being the self-confessed geek that I am, I find myself genuinely excited about the new water market that we are all operating in.  Whilst I was sceptical of this a decade ago when it was first discussed, this boils down to a personality flaw that requires me to fully understand the practicalities and machinations of something before I can truly believe it will happen.  I did not have the vision of Ofwat who were able to tirelessly and methodically plot the journey to make it reality.

Directors-Blog-success-derived-from-learning_Sept17So, I am slightly disappointed that despite this major feat and accomplishment by Ofwat, the countless hours and engagement and the work of many people therein; not to forget the commitment and work of  MOSL, DEFRA  and many other parties, that on the whole the daily noise I hear or read is negative in nature.

The 1st of April was a historic milestone with the opening of the world’s largest competitive water market… for a Water Geek it really doesn’t get much more exciting than that!  So did anyone really expect there not to be teething problems?  With the greatest will in the world, and in spite of preparatory work undertaken during shadow market operations, there were bound to be issues upon ‘Go Live’.  This was an industry transformation; but these issues can be rectified with diligence.  The social media rants and negativity may well be based on true frustrations, but the beauty of the new market is that it delivers options, meaning alternative solutions can be found to problems encountered.

Let’s look at the facts; the market is open and customers have real choice and increased benefit options, which is what Cathryn Ross and her team promised to deliver.  The Central Market Operating System (CMOS) database in the main is providing the level of data anticipated.  Who has ever integrated a seamless new software system without issues, especially one involving data input from numerous sources?  With MOSL continually rectifying and updating any software issues identified, the issues of data quality are not insurmountable.  On the whole our experience of CMOS is that, utilised effectively, it does exactly what it was designed to do; meaning Ofwat and MOSL are a considerable way on their journey to delivering a successful competitive market.

Engagement with customers has driven greater awareness and a positive response which is reflected in the number of switches undertaken; over 53,000 to date.  Whilst some may report that the numbers are disappointingly low, there are many more customers that have not switched but improved their services and/or terms with their incumbent.  This in itself is encouraging; reflecting that there is competition but further growth must still be stimulated if the market is to be successful in the long-term.  Wholesalers are embracing the new market by demonstrating a real willingness and enthusiasm to deliver good service and work together to resolve any problems.  Retailers are also engaging to address issues and communication is, on the whole, much improved.

I am left thinking about an old friend’s saying: ‘success is derived by learning from the challenges we face, not wasting time complaining about them’.  We all know the market is not perfect but like anything in its infancy it will adapt and with the right encouragement and guidance, blossom and grow.  We are off the starting blocks so let’s all do our utmost to make the English water market the world’s most successful competitive water market… now that’s a headline!


Claire YeatesClaire Yeates, Director at Waterscan Ltd

With over nineteen years’ experience in all aspects of water and wastewater management, Claire Yeates is widely recognised as a leading expert in water conservation and cost control.  Having trained in all aspects of water management, working in the field before undertaking a managerial role; Claire applies a practical knowledge to all strategic challenges.

If you have any questions regarding this blog, contact Claire on the form below.