WaterEUM — Effective Utility Management

Keys to Management Success -

4. Measurement

A focus and emphasis on measurement emerges as critical to management improvement efforts associated with the Attributes and as the backbone of successful continual improvement management and strategic business planning. As one participant succinctly put it, "you can't improve what you don't measure." Committee members (and focus group participants) indicated that successful measurement efforts tend to share certain commonalities:

  • They are viewed as a continuum starting with basic internal tracking, and moving on, as needed and appropriate, to more sophisticated base-lining and trend analysis, development of key performance indicators, and inclusion of externally-oriented measures speaking to community sustainability interests;
  • They are driven by and focused on answering questions critical to effective internal management and external stakeholder needs (e.g., questions utility boards need answered to comfortably support large capital investments); and
  • They are supported by a well-defined decision framework assuring results are evaluated, communicated, and responded to in a timely manner.

Even as Committee members embraced measurement as a critical part of effective utility management, they emphasized that measurement can be complicated, needs to be approached carefully, and presents several challenges. Deciding where to start and how much to measure can be difficult, especially when the benefits of measurement and appropriate performance levels may be uncertain. Measures can also be taken out of context and used to make baseless comparisons; measurement must therefore be approached, structured, and used with care.

Resources:

Public Works Performance Measurement
This book is about performance measurement and accountability and will assist managers in determining how best to design and implement a performance management plan. (72 pages, 2000) $$ Order Now 

Qualserve Benchmarking Program
The Qualserve Benchmarking Program provides benchmarking data and analyses in key areas of water and wastewater utilities operations and management. Using this information, utility managers can determine how their utility's performance compares to almost 350 other water and wastewater utilities. The Program provides 22 key benchmarks or performance indicators in five areas of water and wastewater utility operation: Organizational Development, Customer Relations, Business Operations, Water Operations, and Wastewater Operations. The QualServe Benchmarking Performance Indicators Survey is conducted annually and all utilities participating in the survey receive a summary report for FREE. More Information

A written report that aggregates all the data from the annual survey is also available for purchase. Order the 2007 Report Now 

Self-Assessment: A Checklist for Improvement
Self Assessment is a valuable exercise for comparing your agency's performance to best practices identified by experts in the field of public works. The real advantage of self-assessment comes from the opportunity to evaluate, analyze, and improve every aspect of your agency's operations, management and administration. (CDROM, 2005) $$ Order Now