Strategic Plan

Columbus Water Works’ Strategic Initiative

Columbus Water Works uses the strategic planning process as a management tool to help focus our efforts and energy to meet our organizational performance goals.  Our commitment to this endeavor not only ensures all members of the CWW team are working towards the same objectives, but it allows us to continuously evaluate and assess our progress in response to a volatile, uncertain, and ever-changing environment.  For CWW, the emphasis placed on strategic planning at all levels in the organization allows us to provide the highest level of quality customer service while ensuring our operational activities support our purpose and vision.

The Effective Utility Management (EUM) Initiative

The Effective Utility Management (EUM) Initiative, launched in 2007, has been used by a growing number of utilities across the U.S. to improve operational performance.  EUM has been recognized by the collaborating utility organizations as the best way to promote sustainable water and wastewater systems.  CWW is an excellent example of a utility that has used the EUM initiative for reviewing and developing management strategies, goals, and objectives. Please click here for more details.

Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities

The EUM Initiative identifies Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Water Sector Utilities which describe desired outcomes that are applicable to all water and wastewater utilities.  The Attributes provide an indication of where effectively-managed utilities focus and what they strive to achieve.  The Attributes emerged from an extensive analysis by collaborating organizations of current utility management practices and discussions with leaders in the utility industry regarding what they viewed as promising developments in utility management efforts.

Strategic Planning Pie Chart
The Ten Attributes identified by the study
  • Product Quality
  • Employee and Leadership Development
  • Financial Viability
  • Operational Resiliency
  • Water Resource Adequacy
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Operational Optimization
  • Infrastructure Stability
  • Community Sustainability
  • Stakeholder Understanding and Support

Columbus Water Works’ Strategic Journey

Columbus Water Works (CWW) instituted its first comprehensive strategic plan in 1997.  The planning process adopted a vision, mission and strategic initiatives.  This initiative was our first official step towards placing strong emphasis and commitment on strategic planning and continuous improvement.  The planning process enables CWW’s staff to step back from daily activities and deliberate on ways to achieve the CWW’s vision that was developed:  Columbus Water Works will be the Nation’s Best Water Resource Utility by 2000.  The plan was revised in 2005 adopting a new vision:  To be an outstanding provider of utility services, dedicated to protecting the environment, aspiring to new opportunities and compelled to excel in service to our community, and then reviewed again in 2007.

In 2008, CWW undertook a second major review of the strategic plan using the Effective Utility Management (EUM) methodology and a self-assessment exercise.  We have used the EUM framework for our strategic planning activities subsequent updates in 2012, 2015, and 2017.  We have been recognized nationally, receiving Platinum Awards from both the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies.

In 2017, our Executive Team held a workshop to formalize our new purpose, new vision, new core values and strategic initiatives that will set the framework for the strategies and objectives.  CWW’s Executive Team and employees embrace the continued success in the future through the development and execution of this Strategic Plan.  Our commitments to the customers and our employees fall into three strategic areas:

Customer icon The Customer Experience: We are committed to building strong relationships with our customers
          by delivering an experience that meets or exceeds their expectations.

Employee Icon Our Employee Experience:  We are committed to cultivating a work environment that reflects
         fairness, respect, equality and understanding.  We will actively listen and respond to the needs of
         our team members to create a “Great Place to Work for All”.

Environmental Icon Our Environmental Focus:  We are committed to protecting the environment and working to
         ensure the health and sustainability of our natural resources for future generations.

Our Core Values:

  • Wow Customers - by listening, caring, and responding to their concerns and ideas.

  • Act  with Integrity - by being honest and sincere in everything we do.

  • Trusted Community Partner - by being engaged to improve the quality of life.

  • Energize Employees - by celebrating, encouraging, developing and rewarding their diverse capabilities and contributions.

  • Resource Protection - by being an innovative leader in watershed management, protection and education.

Five Keys to Management Success

CWW has also embraced the concept of the Five Keys to Management Success from the EUM study. These five keys are specific management approaches and systems which have been proven to help water and wastewater utilities manage more effectively.  They create a supportive climate for a utility as it works towards the outcomes outlined in the Attributes and can help integrate the utility’s improvement efforts across the Attributes.

The Keys to Management Success are:

  • Leadership
  • Strategic business planning
  • Organizational approaches
  • Measurement
  • Continual Improvement Management Framework

The Way Ahead

For FY 2018 and beyond, CWW will continue to identify and explore opportunities to improve our operational activities to ensure that:
  1. Wastewater is efficiently collected and properly treated.
  2. Our community is provided with a safe and dependable drinking water supply.
  3. That we embrace our legacy of being economically and environmentally responsible.
As a premier leader in the water and wastewater industry, our strategic focus in the upcoming years is providing exceptional customer service, cultivating a work environment that ensures employee engagement, implementation of new technologies to support operational cost-efficiencies, protecting the environment to ensure the sustainability of our natural resources for future generations, and strengthening our community and regional partnerships.