A major water utility company based in Europe approached Challenge Advisory to gain a greater understanding of their organisation, and to ask for advice on optimising their operational health.
A major water utility company based in Europe approached Challenge Advisory in order to gain a greater understanding of their organisation, and to ask for advice with respect to optimising their operational health. After undergoing a comprehensive customer service strategy, they asked Challenge Advisory for assistance improving their plants, and to design a company blueprint that they could circulate throughout their entire organisation.
Challenge Advisory recruited the water and sustainability practice teams to assist the client in their organisational venture. Together, they worked with the client to produce a holistic approach to continuous improvement. This was to be realised in three steps: benchmarking pilot plants for wastewater treatment and water production, conducting onsite diagnostics to identify areas of improvement as well as the metrics to understand these improvements, and the launch of a customised transformation program that provided the backbone for any and all improvement.
The benchmarking was achieved by way of an all-purpose tool that was tested with the help of several organisations in the water treatment sector. The tool revealed that the client’s energy consumption and chemical usage were the areas where the most improvement could be made. The diagnostic outlined in step two of the improvement strategy proved to be illuminative of the organisational opportunities in the client’s organisation.
One such area was identified as employee engagement. To tackle this area, the water team helped to set up structures for employees to autonomously explore root causes of performance problems, as well as to debate possible solutions and prevention techniques. Finally, in order to foster a culture of continuous improvement, we worked closely with the client’s executives to help them adopt new areas, establish a best practice for their organisation, and encourage middle managers to implement these best practices within their own sections of the organisation.
The client fully embraced the three-pronged improvement strategy, and it paid immediate dividends; within three months, the client posted a savings projection of nearly $2 million USD, or 25% of its operating costs. The treatment plant also benefitted from tighter controls and quality, showing higher reliability.
After four years, the client had increased its operating profit by 19% annually, leading to savings of around $178 million per year. It had also improved its regulatory performance score by 7 percent a year, reduced leakage by 30 percent, and also benefitted from a decrease in customer complaints.