Sydney Water is Australia’s largest water and wastewater service provider, supplying water, wastewater, recycled water and some stormwater services to more than five million people in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains – both supplying and reviving water.
Sydney Water is focused on preparing for the future growth of our city to service the extra one million people forecast to live in Sydney in the next ten years. Sydney Water is a statutory State-Owned Corporation, wholly owned by the New South Wales Government, and the sole provider of public water and water waste services to the Sydney community. As a water utility Sydney Water must act in accordance with regulations and the license conditions set by NSW Health and reviewed by IPART every five years. Sydney Water operates under the Sydney Water Act 1994 and has three equal objectives, to: protect public health, the environment and be a successful business. Sydney Waters vision is to create a better life with world-class water services. The Delivery Management (DM) division is a strategic consortium between Sydney Water, Lendlease and John Holland to design and deliver infrastructure projects across three regions.
The Delivery Management (DM) division is a strategic consortium between Sydney Water, Lendlease and John Holland to design and deliver infrastructure projects with 200+ staff and 1500+ ‘active projects across three regions. DM forms part of the Liveable City Solutions group. DM’s vision is to be “the deliverer of choice for Sydney’s Lifestream” and forms the foundation of its business plan.
DM implemented three ambitious process optimisation initiatives designed to significantly enhance performance and outcomes across all key measures, traversing management, operations and project delivery. These initiatives formed the ‘Enable and Optimise’ (E&O) change management project which ran from 2017-2018 with benefits realisation tracked at the program level. E&O is part of the broader continual improvement program called the ‘Towards Organisational Excellence Program’) (2015-2020) which is still underway. The major components of E&O were:
The MOS, a design and development of a bespoke Management Operating System (MOS) as an overarching and fit-for-purpose management framework to enhance leadership, performance and agility. The MOS links strategic change management and leadership processes by overlaying the plan-do-check-act cycle across all governance functions to enable continual improvement; provides panoramic and integrated performance measurement and reporting to enhance performance and control and prescribes planning/delivery time horizons based on leadership levels to empower leaders to lead and learn.
The Operating Model, which is The development of an operating model along with a comprehensive operational manual which provided guidance and support for leaders, staff and various project teams in their daily work, encompassing both business-as-usual (BAU) and project/program delivery work including; management functions (e.g. MOS plus others), asset creation processes, technology, people and support.
Helix ACP v2: Rollout of a significantly upgraded version of the asset delivery platform, Helix version 2 (v2), containing comprehensive and optimised step-by-step processes and designated resource responsibilities across the entire project lifecycle as per the internal project management methodology for infrastructure projects, the Asset Creation Process (ACP), plus a notably refined complexity tool to streamline and safe-guard delivery.
The ‘Towards Organisational Excellence Program’ commenced in 2015 with the goal to mature the business model to be the deliverer of choice for Sydney’s Lifestream. All new deliverables/products/processes are integrated in daily business practices. Previously projects in the program focused on stabilising and aligning the organisation whilst E&O focused on optimising the business via innovative new and improved processes. The next stage, now underway, uplifts partnering and procurement capability.
These initiatives are strategically and commercially important to Sydney Water as they materially mature the asset management and business model and improve: capital results; project management delivery; business and division integration; strategic leadership; staff on-boarding; process standardisation and compliance; reporting; plus, performance and outcomes across diverse measures including environmental, safety, community, staff, financial and programs/projects. Together these process improvements advance the business and drive a high-performance culture committed to continual improvement and agile adaptive leadership. From an industry perspective, this program demonstrates to other utilities how to best develop, rollout and perform to a standardised set of innovative optimised end-to-end processes, work as one united team under a management operating system, develop leadership capability and streamline infrastructure project delivery with proven performance results. Such exemplar models are beneficial in any industry and time – but are critical in the water industry who provide the lifestream for the future and face significant growth demands (e.g. population growth, rapid urbanisation), new technology, societal and environmental challenges (e.g. sustainability, scarce resources, drought, flood) along with regulatory drivers.
Sydney Water is committed to building a high-performance culture as an enabler of their Lifestream strategy. To deliver on this strategy, DM recognised an opportunity for process optimisation to maximise leadership and technical capability in a complex Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous (VUCA) environment. This resulted in the ‘Towards Organisational Excellence’ program (2015-2020) with the overarching goal to improve business and financial performance in DM. The desired benefits of the E&O initiatives aligned with the broader ‘Towards Organisational Excellence Program’ are to drive a leadership culture of strategic decision making and improve overall performance across all major measures. Sydney Water also aims to streamline and safeguard project delivery, create a more united integrated team with shared goals, implement more efficient and effective onboarding processes and ensure that communication processes seamlessly flow information across all governance streams.
Excellent results were shown in the quality of the new process/deliverables, the effectiveness of change management and the sentiment of staff. Successful change management is credited to the project team and stakeholders. The optimisation and integration support a high-performing and cohesive culture entrenched within all levels, from the individual through to the organisation. The initial impact of the process improvements was measured by employee surveys shortly after project rollout to assess the effectiveness of the change mechanisms as well as the solutions themselves. Key results demonstrating success include high staff engagement plus, sustained improvement in performance across all KPIs and capital results which together reflects a culture of continual improvement. Asset management and project delivery has matured via the E&O project with proven performance results, benefits, and value to a diverse array of stakeholders.