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Today's heavily regulated and financially limited utility environment necessitates improvement through a structured program of continual Performance Management. This presentation examines the implementation of a Performance Management System and a structured program of continuous improvement for one of the country's largest municipal water and wastewater utilities, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).

In order for DWSD to continue to strive toward meeting its stated Mission "to exceed its customers' expectations through the innovative treatment and transmission of water and wastewater, andthe provision of services that promote healthy communities and economic growth" in a cost efficient manner in today's operating environment, it must continually improve through a controlled program of performance management. Essential to the successful implementation and execution of a robust performance management program is the ability to easily monitor and hold accountable appropriate managers and supervisors for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). To this end, the Department has developed such indicators. Appropriate responsible managers and supervisors have also been identified for each indicator. However, what was needed was a structure that groups and organizes the indicators in such a manner that management can quickly identify and isolate areas that are experiencing difficulties or that require additional resources. If an area of an organization is not performing as anticipated or expected, it is unlikely that only one performance indicator is being impacted.

Structuring of the KPIs in a visual format can quickly provide organizational management with a wide-range of information needed to make decisions and adjust activities to positively impact performance. A properly structured performance monitoring program can also provide support needed to recognize outstanding performance of teams, groups, or divisions. As such, DWSD has worked with Black & Veatch to develop the Performance and Dashboard System (PaDS) toleverage best business practices and focus its combined water and wastewater experience on performance management issues and challenges within the Department without impacting the overall quality of service.

In addition to strategic benefits such as enabling DWSD to focus on results, enhancing communication at all levels in the organization, and providing the "Big Picture" perspective, PaDS has enabled DWSD to realize operational benefits, including allowing its management to make informed decisions in a timely manner, helping to prioritize actions based on reliable performance metrics, and keeping the focus on performance-related issues through visual representation of cause-effect relationships. This paper will discuss these strategic and operational benefits, as well as positive quantifiable results achieved since PaDS was fully implemented at DWSD.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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