The Case of South Australian Water

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In the early 1990s, the Australian government become progressively concerned about the environmental factors and therefore formulated water quality policies to add to corporate goals of the South Australian Water (SA Water) (Thorogood, Yetton, Vlasic & Spiller, 2004). In addition, the state also required that firms to improve their customer service by ensuring that it was customer oriented and develop rigorous water export company through the establishment of a reputable laboratory to purify water through information technology. Therefore, to achieve all these objectives, the government tasked SA Water with the responsibility of supplying quality water to the Adelaide and the world famous Barossa Valley vineyards. Fundamentally, much of the south Australia parts are situated in the Great Sandy Desert which has the Murray as the largest river that is shrinking besides becoming unpotable. To overcome this challenge, SA Water decided to come up with an internationally recognized laboratory that is well backed and ran through an information system (Thorogood et al., 2004).

Case situation and structure of the organization

South Australian water is a classic case study which illustrates the core challenges that are encountered when an organization seeks to align information technology within the business for enhanced productivity. Essentially, the emphasis of the case study is to presents the difficulties that are encountered in publicly owned companies in a bid to revamp operations through the adoption of information technology to spearhead an entity’s objectives (Thorogood et al., 2004). To facilitate and to promote the realization of the information technology infrastructure orientation, the new system CIO, Johnston, commences by invigorating the IT systems and structures in the company to sustenance the needed business applications. The aim is to drive the achievement of the mission that the government had created which is 'Improved water quality' that was the main corporate goal. the systems were to ensure that there is validation through the development of a profound system that could ensure the availability of quality reporting method which could leverage on the current technology being applied by at the business. Correspondingly, CIO, Johnston, has to demonstrate to the organization about the robustness and its functionality of the systems and how it will enhance the value of the business via the management of numerous outsourcing vendors that the company trade with. The company was headed by Anne Howe who was acting as CEO. Under her leadership, SA Water was designed to comprise long functional structures with independent business unit managers and supervisors under each unit (Thorogood et al., 2004). The largest functional unit by 2003 was watered services which were headed by John Ringham. The subsequent sections include operations, business infrastructure and retail, Engineering, and Projects among others.

Key problems and Issues in the case study

The case presents a series of the problem that the company was facing which needed further attention through the adoption of an information system to upgrade service delivery in an efficient and effective manner. Firstly, the company had a problem in assessing the actual health risks and benefit from the purified water at the premise (Thorogood et al., 2004). With a dedicated information system, it was very difficult to assess the public health challenges such as Yorke Peninsula Incident since there was no method to gather timely information that would be used to collect and give access to quality information that was needed for management of public health and thus the use of information system would overcome such flaws (Malcolm et al., 2015). The time needed to gather information about water samples was much longer and thus difficult to predict and give an alert on possible problems timely and therefore that adoption of the information system would reduce the cycle and make it easier for the company to obtain information on water sample and alert the public concerning any danger (Thorogood et al., 2004). Additionally, water quality was low as it was manually purified which resulted in serious health problems that threatened many lives. Outsourcing in regard to different vendors was very difficult to be coordinated and took more time besides being costly to the organization and thus the need for a system to reduce costs incurred in procurement by outsourcing companies that have the expertise to provide such services at a cheaper cost (Malcolm et al., 2015).

How organization responded to the issues

Most of the challenges that were being encountered at that organization were solved through the introduction of information technology. For instance, through the adoption of PRINCE2 process methodology the issues with delayed results from tested water samples were reduced as all tests and its transmission were automated and thus reducing phase time between collecting water samples data and collaborating alerts to any potential problems (Baek, Vu, Liu, Huang & Xiang, 2015). Moreover, the system further automated water sample collection through the use of barcode reading as well as automatically publishing the unverified results from LIMS immediately they were available for safety concerns (Thorogood et al., 2004). Additionally, the Waterscope system enhanced the detection as well as the rectification of water quality before being released for consumption to avoid health problems. In regard to cost, Waterscope approach reduced considerably the cost of operation by adding more value to the business. For instance, it aided in the identification of the additional benefits that were of low cost and could lead to increased value if implemented (Thorogood et al., 2004). Outsourcing was made easier and vendors were communicated to through an automated system that could precisely track the progress of their commitments and obligations to the firm. Nevertheless, the projects experienced some failures such as the fading of the barcodes that were used to record the result of the treated water samples within a short time. Besides, the lack of needed expertise by LIMS and Sa Water IS as well as the laboratory posed a serious challenge that could lead to unforeseen results as neither of the party understood the new data structure and therefore becoming extremely difficult to import it into the Waterscope interactive database (Baek et al., 2015).

Consequently, this became one of the unforeseen results as the technical team failed to identify the compatibility and knowledge base requirement of the systems and the upgrade on existing LIMS made it more complex to be used by employees. Likewise, the implementation of PRINCE 2 methodology supervened in to the total rearrangement of the business in line with the fresh IT requirements. Subsequently, the newly created departments comprised of much shorter organization structures. For example, information service executive committee, project governance office, as well as project board, were familiarized (Thorogood et al., 2004).

Assessment of the case study

To overcome future challenges, there is a need to ensure that validated software architect to avoid rework of poorly tested water sample that can negatively influence health.  All employees need to be educated on how the new system operates to avoid frequent errors that impair the achievement of the project outcomes (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). Training will ensure that workers at LMIS and at SA Water are able to understand how the new system operates and thus making it possible to upload the needed information in the software for enhanced reports generation (Thorogood et al., 2004). The validated software will aid in achieving quality services in regard to water treatment and reporting process.

Review of the case findings

The introduction of information technology to aid in water purification enhancements, quality improvement, report generation and transmission, as well as outsourcing management, resulting in value addition at SA Water by allowing that company to come up with alternatives that were cost-effective while emphasizing on the need to promote public health. However, there are key shortfalls in the project. For instance, the use of new data structure system that could not merge with existing structures, the cost of implementation is very high, major deferments in regard to PDA testing and lack of approval of some important projects and deliverables due to resource inadequacy. To overcome such shortcoming, there is need to ensure availability of sufficient resources, reduce the PDA testing result process and use systems that can integrate within the existing structures to avoid duplication of processes and unnecessary overheads.


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            (2015). U.S. Patent No. 9,203,650. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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September 04, 2023




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