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Best practices implementation integrates utilities' organization, practices, and technology. (Cover Article).

Toronto's Water Supply (WS) and Water Pollution Control (WPC) Sections are responsible for treating, pumping, transmitting, and storing potable water, as well as collecting and treating wastewater for the city's million residents.

WPC provides wastewater collection and treatmentservices24hours a day, seven days a week. These services require four treatment plants, eight pumping stations, and 355 kilometers of trunk sewers. The staff (1996 establishment) includes 851 professional, managerial, skilled, semiskilled, and unskilled staff. The annual operating budget is $142 million.

WS is responsible for treating, pumping, transmitting, and storing potable water on a wholesale basis.

These services, provided around the clock, require four filtration plants, 18 pumping stations, 10 major ground Level storage reservoirs, four elevated storage tanks, and 750 kilometers of trunk water mains. The staff (1996 establishment) includes 364 professional, managerial, skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled staff. The annual operating budget is $63 million.


The Toronto Works and Emergency Services Division had been at the forefront of the water and wastewater industry when it adopted new technologies in the 1970s; new operations and mechanical maintenance procedures during the 1980s; and business-oriented organizational structures during the early 1990s. Tightening resources, growing regulations, and the threat of privatization demanded that the city find a new approach to operating and maintaining its valuable assets. In addition, infrastructure deterioration was threatening the city's ability to ensure continued excellence in service delivery. Many of the vintage 1970s and 1980s process control technologies and their associated control elements had far outlived their useful life. Maintenance was becoming increasingly difficult, and parts were not easy to source. This created an urgent need to replace aging assets to ensure continued delivery of safe drinking water and continued achievement of regulatory targets in wastewater.

The pressure to deal with these issues and do more with less was increased significantly when several private operators approached the city in 1996 offering to run its operations. Guarantees varied from a 30 percent reduction in operating costs to the promise of a $135-million reduction from the full water and wastewater division budget. In response to this challenge, both the WPC and WS divisions embarked on a joint Enterprise Transformation Project to become a competitive organization. EMA Canada, Inc. was hired as the prime consultant to partner with the city on this major project. The overall phases of the Enterprise Transformation Project are shown in Figure 1.

The WPC and WS divisions joined forces and initiated a competitiveness assessment and alignment of expectations. This assessment reviewed all organizational design (0), work practices (P), and technologies (T), identifying an opportunity to reduce operations and maintenance expenditures by $36 million per year. This opportunity was reviewed, validated, and detailed by the division. The assessment was used to establish targets for WPC and WS, as well as the Works Best Practices Program (WBPP), a five-year improvement program.

The WBPP was designed to enable Water Supply and Water Pollution Control to achieve the vision of becoming world-class public service providers, competitive with the best in the world and fulfilling all customer expectations. This vision will be achieved by implementing the most efficient work practices, effective organization, and appropriate technologies.

The goals of WBPP are to:

* define business and application requirements; share technical and methodology standards through an integrated knowledge base; implement business solutions;

* plan and implement best practices such as: creating a flexible workforce, applying automated process control, organizing around teams, and integrating and sharing resources across Water Supply and Water Pollution Control;

* design and implement a comprehensive information technology infrastructure to support the integration of all WBPP systems;

* select, configure, and implement a work management system (WMS) to enable proactive maintenance for maximizing process reliability and minimizing maintenance costs in the Water Supply and Water Pollution Control facilities;

* design and implement process control systems (PCS) for treatment plants, wastewater trunk collection, and water transmission;

* design and implement a unique performance and operations management system (POMS) that consolidates information at all levels, including unit processes, complete plant facilities, and the entire Water Supply and Water Pollution Control sections.

In 1995, the WBPP project kicked off with a program budget of $110 million. By the end of 2001, actual savings from the program reached nearly $16 million per year. Initial program results are illustrated in Figure 2.


The design of the improvement program is based on four operational best practices:

Total Productive Operations (TPO) Enables Effective Achievement of Common Goals. Using TPO, everyone will be working together toward common goals, with a full workload throughout the day. This means everyone is working at maximum productivity.

Program-Driven Work (PDW) Maximizes Productivity and Reduces Costs. Program-driven work maximizes productivity and can reduce costs by up to 40 percent. It is based on problem prevention, and will help you get the right plans, skills, tools, and parts to significantly improve productivity.

Unattended Facilities Saves Substantial Labor Resources. Unattended operations of facilities and other city assets, when supported by technology, save substantial labor resources.

Workforce Flexibility (WFF) Maximizes Productivity. WFF can enhance productivity by up to 20 percent by cross-training and multi-skilling staff. WFF increases the value of an employee's time on the job, and enhances career development leading to improved employee morale and job satisfaction.

These operational best practices are guided by two enabling best practices:

Technology as Strategy--Technology is Essential in Minimizing Costs. The best operators use technology to more quickly provide accurate, enterprise-wide information. This information can be used for better decision-making, and will result in operation improvements. In facilities such as water and waste water, technologies can be used to significantly reduce energy, chemical, and parts and materials costs.

Organization as Strategy--Flexible Organization Creates Empowerment. Improvements in organizational performance are being accomplished through innovative approaches in the ways people work together. Removing organizational barriers, developing teams, and adopting improvement practices such as performance management, allows organizations to be driven by the energy of all employees.

The city and EMA worked together to document and analyze the "as is" business practices and applied the above best practices concepts to develop the new organization design, new work practices, and the functional requirements for the various components of the integrated technology solution. This shift in paradigms to achieve best practices is shown in Figure 3.


The overall organization chart is shown in Figure 4. The program management office (PMO) is responsible for the overall project administration and strategic project management. The projection integration track is the tactical arm of the PMO responsible for schedule development/modification, coordination, and execution. This track is also responsible for coordinating the implementation activities of the organization, practices, and technology tracks to maximize the benefits to the city with the limited resources available.

The individual project tracks are designed around logical groupings of activities in line with O, P, and T. The organization track is responsible for: developing appropriate job descriptions; resolving compensation and other human resources issues; and developing and coordinating the implementation of the training program required to support the new organization design.

The practices track is responsible for implementing the new team-based organization that operates under best practices concepts of work force flexibility, total productive operations, and program-driven operations. This track is at the forefront of the project in creating and establishing the new way of working and yielding the initial results in terms of surplus employees to the operations.

The technology tracks are responsible for the development and deployment of the technology architecture and necessary hardware to support an integrated technology solution, which consists of:

* Work Management System (WMS)

* Performance and Operations Management System (POMS)

* Process Control (PCS)

* Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)

* Industrial Waste System (TWMS)

* Underlying Citrix/Web Methods operating environment

The high-level schedule for these major tracks is given in Figure 5.


Successfully undertaking a major change initiative of this scale requires careful attention to the integration of all the various activities associated with the key tracks. All that was learned from Phase 1 of the project and the various pilots were incorporated into planning for Phase 2 (major implementation). The underlying theme for implementation was the transfer of leadership and ownership of the program to city managers and frontline staff. Figure 6 illustrates the transfer of program ownership and leadership.

All track leaders and facility managers (where change had been initiated) met on a regular basis to review progress; discuss issues and concerns that crossed tracks; and plan the next week's activities. These meetings were documented and all issues were logged and tracked on an issues log. The issues management framework employed to enforce resolution at the lowest level was also applied in the rollout to the various facility teams for use in their day-to-day operations. The Integrated Implementation team would kick off activities at each facility and give the facility management team an overview of the overall program and the planned schedule for the facility. Progress of the transformation of the organization was tracked on a scorecard for each facility along the six best practices concepts as well as the key measures of rate, quality, and efficiency.


Providing a smooth and timely integrated implementation has been a difficult challenge. The program has been faced by union mistrust of the program and lack of buy-in throughout Phase 1, which continues into Phase 2. This has resulted in slow movement on key human resources issues, such as agreement on new or revised job descriptions and associated compensation. The program was designed on the basis of heavy involvement by city personnel in the implementation phase to foster knowledge transfer and program ownership, as well as to reduce consulting costs. The pool of qualified and available personnel to work on project activities has been limited and this has been further exacerbated by turnover due to the incentive separation programs offered by the city. In addition, scheduling of training for development of employees has been a balancing act between managing the day-to-day operations, working on project activities, and freeing up people for training.

The following procedures were implemented to deal with issues and challenges on a timely basis:

Education. The integrated implementation project team was made up of facility managers, city track leads, and the consulting integration manager. A presentation was developed to communicate the program vision, track activities, responsibilities and schedules, roles, and responsibilities of both project (city and consulting) and facility staff. This presentation was used as the pre-education activity for the facility management team. It gradually introduced them to and helped them prepare for the onslaught of implementation activities planned for their facility.

Project Management. Project operating procedures were developed to provide ease of:

* project coordination;

* administration;

* development of deliverables;

* conducting and documenting meetings and workshops;

* transitioning new consulting and city resources into the project;

* closing out project tracks;

* operationalizing concepts.

Project Scheduling. A critical success factor has been the appropriate timing of both sequential and parallel activities. It was important to ensure that the logistics were in place to accommodate normal facility operations, while ensuring personnel would be available for participation in implementation activities. Also, it was important that activities were implemented in the appropriate sequence to build on each other with appropriate intervals to allow for the concepts or deliverables to be understood and absorbed. Resource management and scheduling activities were a key responsibility of the integrated implementation team.

Quality Assurance and Control. The project implementation and integration methodologies were developed with quality assurance in mind. Processes were designed with checks and balances to assure quality. Quality control was established by the development of standards and the development of checks for adherence to standards (in the first instance by the consultants and then by the city leads).

Issues Management. All issues were identified, analyzed, documented, and tracked until they were successfully dealt with by the relevant responsible person using the issues management framework. Every effort was made to ensure that issues were dealt with at the lowest level possible before they bumped up to the next level in the project structure.

Fast Tracking of Project Activities or Groups of Project Activities. A focused action plan was developed to deal with fast-tracking needs and with the assignment of responsibility to the appropriate resources. An example of this was the creation of a program driven work (PDW) initiative with a dedicated team of resources to:

* implement the PDW practices;

* configure, build the database records, and deploy the computerized work management system;

* develop training materials and deliver training;

* identify and implement measures to track the change in culture to PDW.

Public Relations and Communications. The successes of various facilities were leveraged by showcasing their achievements in a monthly newsletter, alongside updates on the overall program.


To date, cumulative cost reductions of more than $65 million (CDN) have been realized and reflected in the 2002 budget, and annual savings are expected to reach $36 million per year upon full implementation of WBPP. Cost reductions come mainly through reductions in payroll, energy, chemicals, and parts. All plant employees have now had training in best work practices to move the organization toward a strong sense of self-sufficiency, competitiveness, and pride. The new organization has been in place for some time, all the business applications (with the exception of PCS) have been implemented, and we are over the hump on demand for city resources for project support and training.

The focus on facilities is now on:

* optimizing the various practices and technology;

* leveraging the teamwork to create quantum leaps in productivity;

* maintaining asset and process reliability;

* fostering an ongoing environment of continuous improvement based on strategic performance management.

Control systems that will enable better control of water and wastewater quality are well into the detailed design and construction phase and this is scheduled to continue to the end of 2003. At this time, the effort will focus on optimizing the operations through the best practices concept of unattended operations of the facilities.

This article was scheduled to be presented at the WEFTEC 2002 Conference in Chicago, Illinois


Figure 2


                                     Operating Budget
1996                                      $119M
Achieved at 4 WPC & 4 WS facilities        12%
with integration of O&P

2001                                      $105M
Additional improvement integration         21%
of O,P,T

2004                                       $83M

Note: Table made from bar graph
Figure 3


           As Is                          To Be

1) Operations & maintenance   1) Total productive operations
2) Reactive work              2) Program driven work
3) Attended                   3) Unattended facilities
4) Work separated by craft/   4) Work force flexibility &
   skill independent             interdependent
5) Technology as risky        5) Technology as strategy
6) Organization as structure  6) Organization as strategy

Roopchan Lutchman, P.E. and R.M. Pickett, P.E.

Mr. Lutchman is Vice President, EMA Canada, Inc., Toronto, and Mr. Pickett is Director, Water Pollution Control, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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Title Annotation:Toronto, Ontario
Author:Lutchman, Roopchan; Pickett, R.M.
Publication:Public Works
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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