TasWater – Asset Management Operating Model

1.      Summary of the project, product, framework

In September 2020 TasWater embarked on the evolution of our Asset Management Operating model (AMOM) to realign the Asset Management Services Division to support the provision of a better service for our internal and external stakeholders and enable the delivery of the best possible customers outcomes.

Over the five months since announcing the model, TasWater utilised an innovative organisation change process using collaborative digital tools, engaging with staff internally to produce a considered model which provides a platform for the future success of our business to support our communities.

2.      Description of Project or framework

Use of best practice asset management principles

TasWater has been in operation since 2013 and while a great deal has been achieved, we must keep evolving and challenging the status quo if we are to realise our vision to ‘be a trusted and respected provider of essential services that is making a positive difference to Tasmania’.  

Since inception, the asset management functions have been consolidated and enhanced to deliver: 

  • Our Inaugural Strategic Asset Management Plan in 2015 
  • Our Asset Management System Approach in 2015
  • Asset Management decision making frameworks for criticality, performance and risk
  • Prioritisation and development of projects to meet TasWater’s long term $1.8B capital program; and 
  • Development of TasWater’s Maintenance strategy 

Over the past five years, TasWater has engaged in the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) asset management customer value (AMCV) assessment, most recently in 2020. The AMCV allows utilities to benchmark their asset management maturity and understand where maturity gaps are restricting their ability to deliver value to their customer base.  

The 2020 AMCV indicated TasWater is operating above the 75th percentile for asset management strategy and planning and asset management decision making. These areas include the development of: 

  • The Asset Management Policy 
  • Strategic asset management plan 
  • Asset class management planning 
  • Demand analysis; and 
  • Capital and operational investment decision making. 

However, it is important to note within subject groups 1 and 2, TasWater is rated as 2.5 or “Aware” for Demand Analysis, below the industry median score of 4.13, and 2.25, “Aware” for Operations and Maintenance decision making. 

An interesting correlation to make from TasWater’s results, is that our lifecycle delivery activities and asset information are low compared to our asset management decision making functions. This suggests that TasWater has opportunities to: 

  • Develop and understand the data required for decision making;
  • Develop insights from data holdings that result in inefficient work practices;
  • Introduce greater infrastructure consistency through internal standards; and
  • Target maintenance interventions aligned to asset function achieve desired levels of service. 

Although we have achieved improvement from 2016 to 2020, the findings from the AMCV show that our scores are less than the industry median in the areas of Demand Analysis, Technical Standards, Configuration Management, Asset Reliability, Data and Information, Asset Management Leadership, Risk Assessment and Management, Contingency Planning and Stakeholder Engagement.  

Degree of originality and ingenuity of solution/ Program and project management

In September 2021, the GM AMS began the development of a new AMOM and sought to ensure a collaborative and inclusive approach was followed.  In the recent years, TasWater has engaged in a major cultural change program centred around the Blue Bus Revolution program. This program focuses on the philosophy of which “Bus” you are on within the workplace, an analogy for describing the behaviours individuals display in the workplace. Key principles, such as “ask” not “tell” are fundamental to the Blue Bus approach. This focus was critical the AMOM engagement of our team members in decision making for the future.

The AMOM targeted the alignment of TasWater’s Asset Management practices to the Global Framework for Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM) 39 subjects and 6 subject areas to strategically close the gaps in TasWater’s asset management maturity including:

  • Investing in strategic master planning
  • Understanding how we work and realigning our processes
  • Further investing in our strategic operational management of infrastructure to maximise lifecycle value
  • Collaboration in strategic asset management decision making

Incorporating strong connection of investment priorities to customer outcomes to ensure prudency and efficiency of our investments

In addition to the above, TasWater recognised the management structure did not support the appropriate spans of control[1] with team reports averaging 11-14. This impacts our business through; the over allocation of work on our managers leading to burn out, insufficient time to develop team members and inability to focus on the solutions being delivered.

Through late 2021, the GM AMS engaged in consultation with AMS and stakeholders within other Divisions. Feedback and engagement from the AMS division was strong and validated the decisions for the AMOM.  The final model is both resilient and flexible and focusses resources in areas for improvement to build business knowledge and implement efficiencies. 

The final structure for TasWater’s Asset Management Services division resulted in the development of three departments, Infrastructure Investment planning (IIP), Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Development Services (DS).

The IIP department includes water and sewer master planning, technical standards, capital and operational programming, asset lifecycle management and asset management system maturity development.

The ALM department focuses on TasWater’s lifecycle activities including asset reliability focusing on maintenance strategy development, Dam infrastructure and SCADA and electrical infrastructure management teams and realignment of our asset data services team.

The DS Department focuses on the engagement with the local community and developers to deliver infrastructure which is aligned to TasWater’s requirements. This function is delivered through dedicated teams responsible for assessment, compliance, connections and development support.

The new model is in full function as of March 2022.

Benefit of the project or service to the community or organization

The AMOM is critical to business functions across TasWater and the culture within the Asset Management Services Division. Our people have responded to external change with respect to the Service Delivery Target Operating Model and Capital Delivery Office with strategic change to the key asset management decision-making functions which support the effective delivery of operational and capital activities becoming necessary.

Strategic intervention of the AMS structure has allowed TasWater to intervene against the risk of making short- and long-term decisions which are not deemed prudent or efficient. 

The project brings a strong strategic focus on

  • System master planning,
  • Adoption of the asset owner, manager and operator functions
  • Investment in reliability improve activities; and
  • Digital transformation of our infrastructure.

This focus benefits our customers and the business by creating transparency of our decision making. Whole of system planning will be critical as we transition to a capitally constrained environment by improving our understanding of investment needs to meet our corporate and community outcomes.

3.      Opinion as to specific contribution made by the nominated individual/team /organisation

TasWater’s delivery of the ISO5501 aligned AMOM through a dedicated project team within the Asset Management services division, driven by the leadership of the GM AMS, was critical to the success of the business realignment. Through development, a critical question was asked of the team.

Is this revolution or evolution?

This phrase became a critical foundation of the change, building on areas of strength within the team, yet at the same time recognising that there was further improvement that could be realised. This was evidenced by the results of the WSAA’s 2021 AMCV benchmarking. It also provided essential reassurance to those team members facing uncertainty. It showed that the change they were being presented with was not fundamentally aimed at throwing out all of the valued work that had been achieved previously, rather it was being built upon the strong foundations already created. This formed the most successful element of the AMOM. The focus on the evolution of the asset management system meant that the AMS division could be seen to following a critical continuous improvement cycle.

A key reason most change projects typically fail is that resourcing disappears soon after implementation of the model. AS such, the use of trusted internal resources was critical to the success of the operating model implementation allowing the team to utilise developed relationships and follow an “ask” not “tell” approach to better engage our people.

The development of open and transparent communication mechanisms through SharePoint, a web-based collaboration platform the integrates with TasWater’s Microsoft suite of, meant staff could access information regarding the restructure whenever and however suited their individual needs. The commitment to constant, deliberate and open communication within the division and ability to meet with team members face-to-face and engage in genuine consultation allowed the GM AMS to build trust with the team members. This has set the platform for successful delivery of future divisional goals and change.

4.      General Comments

The AMOM developed a number of key articles which assisted in communicating the changes and new way of work for the AMOM. These are included below.

Figure 1: TasWater’s high level Asset Management decision making

TasWater has utilised the GFMAM and strategically focused on developing our asset management systems to close maturity gaps and deliver customer and community value.

Figure 2: Global Framework Maintenance and Asset Management

The final Asset Management Operating Model Structure

[1] McKinsey and Company 2020

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