Western Water – Meeting the challenges of urban growth through innovation

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Recent Engagement: Under Melbourne’s urban growth strategy, a number of new precincts are planned within Western Water’s service areas. Over the next 20 to 30 years, the regional population is set to more than treble. However, the staging of these new developments is uncertain, making it extremely difficult for Western Water to allocate resources.

Following a review of the end-to-end asset creation process, Marchment Hill Consulting (MHC) proposed a number of changes to help Western Water build flexibility and resilience to respond to future growth. These changes were developed in collaboration with staff intimately involved in the asset creation process.

The change program achieves rapid resolution of key risks by decoupling workload from resourcing as far as possible. Adjustments to the organisation structure maximise the value of existing knowledge and capacity within the organisation as well as strengthening the customer interface.

A key MHC initiative was been the development of a business case for a partial shared service arrangement with a metropolitan retailer. This arrangement piggy-backs on the larger utility’s recent development of a 24/7 online customer portal in order to automate high-volume, low-complexity connections transactions in greenfield areas, as they take an increasing share of connections over time (shown below).

QSI 19-Water-RE-Meeting Challenges of Urban Growth

The figure shows how the automated process can relieve the growth component of work on property connections. In addition, the simpler infill subdivisions can be handled by the connections team, relieving capacity constraints in the land development area.

The end-to-end asset creation process comprises a range of business functions, each requiring specialist knowledge and skill, while being highly interdependent on each other. The major contribution of this engagement was to identify how the existing strengths and capacities of the organisation could be built on and enabled, and allow flexibility with minimum disruption and in a compressed timeframe.

The automation of Western Water’s high-volume, low-complexity connections transactions through piggy-backing off another customer portal will be an innovative approach to achieving this.