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Waste Discharge Requirements


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Waste Discharge Requirements

  1. 1. Technical Brief A Summary of Performance Management Best Practices for a Public Sector Water Utility By: Doug Spiers, Esq, P.E. In this period of economic uncertainty, utilities Performance measurement is the discipline of must focus on increasing overall business measuring the right things in order to affect a efficiency in order to maintain customer service desired change. But there’s a catch. and contain costs. As a first step to improving In order to be effective, performance performance, utility managers must understand management must be tailored to the water or existing service levels and associated costs. If wastewater agency’s mission – ensure safe and this were simple, however, every utility would do reliable water supply, protect the environment, it. Rather, many utility managers are: maintain public infrastructure, meet customer • Annoyed that key data from their systems is services levels, and do it all at reasonable rates. difficult to access and that information in Moreover, an agency’s performance management different systems may conflict; needs vary based on its size, governance, range • Frustrated that key decisions are made without of services, and organizational maturity. timely or accurate performance-based This following paper is a simple overview of information; documented best practices for implementing an • Unable to measure or trend progress toward effective performance-based management desired goals; program within a water or wastewater utility. • Lacking proper reporting tools to effectively communicate with Board or Council members, regulators, rate payers and utility staff.
  2. 2. Technical Brief The most effective approach for developing Attributes of an Effective best-in-class performance management Public Sector Approach programs for public sector agencies recognizes There is no, single set of Key Performance that organizational buy-in is essential. One Indicators (KPIs) that applies to every water and effective approach is to develop initial wastewater utility. Rather, agencies should begin performance measures through focus group with a suite of measures that support their core sessions discussing industry best practices; key mission then add measures as necessary to staff interviews to understand the current monitor their specific strategic initiatives and organizational culture and level of effort required management concerns. Successful utilities: for change management; and facilitated discussions regarding the Utility’s current state • Maintain organization-wide focus in the and issues regarding water industry metrics and development and institutionalizing of their industry benchmarks. performance management program; An effective Performance Management Program • Develop KPIs that align with the Utility’s provides the following benefits: Strategic Plan and annual budget process; • Determine the gap between current • Utilize a Balanced Scorecard approach that performance and desired goals; applies proven criteria (e.g. Malcolm • Track progress in achieving desired Baldridge Award); performance; • Engage management and staff throughout • Control performance within predetermined the process to train the organization on best boundaries; industry practices and develop buy-in; • Identify problem areas and possible causes; • Motivate desired behaviors or spur • Develop a hierarchy of performance performance, measures that roll up and down from every • Increase accuracy in planning; and employee to the General Manager; and • Illustrate to stakeholders that the • Employ business intelligence information organization is achieving its desired results solutions for efficient data collection, It is imperative that the performance management reporting efficiency, and decision support. program ties directly to the Utility’s defined strategies, goals, decision making, and annual budget. The program must be supported by accurate data collection and an efficient reporting process that enables timely business analysis. The resulting performance report must present Utility performance in a clear, concise, and timely manner in order to aid management-level decision making. Best Practices Checklist Effective performance management and reporting programs are achieved through four steps: 1. Develop Appropriate Measures & Targets Balanced Set of Measures – Develop measures that represent a balanced spectrum of organizational perspectives including customers, financial performance, business processes and employees. Ensure measures drive quality, Performance Management Best Practices Page 2
  3. 3. Technical Brief efficiency, and effectiveness. Minimize the Data Efficiency – Maximize the use of business number of simple output measures. information systems to efficiently gather in- process measures. Evaluate where data Multidimensional Measures – Measurements collection time can be minimized with business must serve both internal and external intelligence and web-enabled solutions. stakeholders, support both routine work and special projects, and be responsive to the needs Accountability – Establish ownership for of line employees, management and executives. obtaining and validating requisite performance data prior to analysis and inclusion in the performance report. 3. Analyze Results Against Targets Accountability – Establish appropriate accountability for performing data analysis for each performance measure. Duplication – Minimize duplicate data analysis by aligning reported measures. Make measurement units consistent including quality units per Fiscal Year and Calendar Year. In-Process and Outcome Measures – Develop both in-process and outcome measures that help Activity Based Cost Accounting – Ensure that managers understand the cause-and-effect significant activities are performed at a relationship between activities and strategic goals. reasonable cost. Collect all major cost components associated with core business tasks. Meaningful – Ensure that all measures serve a meaningful purpose and that they are expressed in Cause and Effect Linkage – Measure the effect a consistent, simple, and understandable manner. of preventive programs by observing sustained reductions in rates of things you want to prevent. Appropriate Targets – Have a defined business process for establishing appropriate targets, Projections – Eliminate analyzing numerical usually in conjunction with the budgeting projections of random or uncontrollable events. process. Reflect broad internal, external, financial, and improvement goals in strategic 4. Communicate Results to Stakeholders and operating plans. Key Stakeholders – Identify specific users for Established Targets – Use historical data to each measure. Ensure that all contributors establish initial targets for ALL performance towards performance are aware of actual measures. Targets should challenge the performance against established targets. organization and motivate improvement while Timely Reporting – Provide stakeholders near being attainable. real time access to information to judge how a given action impacts the associated outcome 2. Routinely Monitor Results indicator and progress toward a strategic goal. Periodic Monitoring – Develop formal business Standardize Performance Reporting Format – process for periodic performance monitoring. Ensure consistency between performance Data Collection – Establish accountabilities and reports and graphs. Deliver information in an formal data-collection processes for each intuitive and/or adequately explained manner. performance report. Establish baseline time and Electronic Reporting – Utilize electronic effort for collecting the requisite data. reporting formats where appropriate. Broaden Performance Management Best Practices Page 3
  4. 4. Technical Brief the distribution of the performance reports via to the stakeholder’s role. Present measures that the intranet or internet. Minimize the number of tie individual contributions to overall hard copy performance reports. organizational performance. Limit dashboard measures to approximately 20. Present simple, Reduce Color Printing Costs – Maximize the informative graphics with coding to indicate use of electronic reporting. Minimize distribution acceptable, marginal or unacceptable of hard bound color performance reports. Use performance. legends that are easily discernable in black and white for hard copy reports where needed. Utilize Business Intelligence Solutions – Utilize business intelligence solutions to Review Distribution Lists – Align distribution accelerate data analysis, increase reporting lists with the organization’s specific need for effectiveness, and improve management information based on roles and responsibilities. decision making. Reporting Information vs. Data – Don’t release data in raw form. Develop appropriate Summary critical analysis and explain information These best practices have proven effective in graphically; not in tabular formats. implementing sustainable performance Trending – Compare performance metrics over management programs that provide management annual or seasonal periods where historical data and staff with key information to manage the is available. Use monthly comparisons only utility and drive continuous improvement. The where appropriate to show seasonal events. result is management by objective performance Eliminate monthly comparisons for random against predetermined target levels of service that events or where there is only limited connection are aligned with the utility’s strategic goals and to seasonal influences. annual budget process. Graphics – Provide standard comparative graphs, trend lines, pie charts, etc. Display Additional Information tabular data to support charts only if necessary. For additional information contact: Self Explanatory – Present information in a Douglas A. Spiers, P.E., Esq. manner that can be quickly assimilated and Vice President Consulting Services understood by all stakeholders. Westin Engineering, Inc. 3100 Zinfandel Drive, Suite 300 Analysis – Assess the performance against Rancho Cordova, CA 95670 desired target levels and explain any gaps. (916) 807-3028 Corrective Actions – Articulate the remedial action to achieve desired performance for each reported performance measure. Dashboard Report – Develop a monthly Dashboard Report that delivers data appropriate At Westin, we're passionate about improving utility performance. Through practical knowledge earned in the water and wastewater industry and our collaborative approach, Westin helps you implement dependable enterprise solutions to retain knowledge, optimize processes, meet compliance requirements, serve customers and improve asset life. Performance Management Best Practices Page 4