Effective Utility Management—
Building Smarter Water and Wastewater
Utilities with Business Intelligence and
The Effective Utility Management (EUM)
framework has provided a standardized
model for water and wastewater
utilities to use for strategic planning, driving
improvement, and providing a definitive set of
reference points to help gauge actual performance.
The EUM model is a potent tool for
today’s managers to help them quickly and
precisely get to the core elements that are
important to their business and help them
build a smarter water utility. One of the most
valuable features of the model is the set of Key
Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are directly
integrated into the 10 attributes and their
associated components (see Figure 1 below).
Admittedly, that volume of over 150 of the
specific KPIs can be a little daunting, but
with a little thought and the proper selection
24 SOURCE spring 2012
as to where to start, these metrics can
provide powerful insight into performance
of the utility (both current and desired).
EUM’s five keys to management success
(leadership, strategic planning, organizational
approach, measurement, and continuous
improvement) are all essential. However, this
article focuses on the latter two (measurement
and continuous improvement), as they
are specifically relevant to the effective use
of data and performance metrics. For utilities
to achieve their goals really boils down to
three fundamental questions they must ask
• Where are you now?
• Where are you going?
• How do you get there?
These seem to be simple questions, yet they
require very specific information and thought
to fully answer. This is not the same as data.
That is because data is only a component—a
very important component, but still only a
component. How an organization collects,
uses, analyzes, and presents data is crucial to
delivering meaningful information and efficiently
placing it in the hands of leadership to
make key business decisions. Organizations
need to understand the imperative to make
informed business decisions that are not only
data driven but defensible. In order to make
those key decisions, an entire organization
requires global information drawn from the
various business areas (i.e. finance, operations,
customer service, human resources, etc.) and
the various systems that support them. This
leads us to Business Intelligence (BI).
How does one define BI? It is an umbrella,
or overarching system or process, that
refers to a variety of software applications/
information systems that an agency uses to
analyze their raw data. Most utilities have a
mix of disparate systems. So they may use
their BI solution specifically to help them in
extracting and analyzing business data as
well as querying and reporting from their
multiple system landscape. A BI solution can
be a useful tool to help monitor and manage
performance metrics, and can also be an
important source for answering those three
crucial questions mentioned earlier.
To answer those three questions really
represents a journey. Actually, it is similar to
planning a trip and following a map.
Where Are You Now?
Any journey one embarks on has a definitive
starting place, which can be identified
as a point on the road map that one goes
forward from. Even if one has not planned
the ultimate destination, at least one can
By Kirk Kuzirian, UtilityWorks, Inc.