Sydney Water Corporation – Enable and Optimise Projects

1. Summary of the project, product, framework

Sydney Water’s Delivery Management (DM) is a strategic consortium with Lendlease and John Holland to design and deliver infrastructure projects. It has 200+ staff and 1500+ active projects. In 2018, DM implemented a series of innovative process optimisation initiatives designed to uplift asset management performance, traversing management, operations and project delivery. These included: development of a bespoke Management Operating System with embedded plan-do-check-act cycle at all leadership levels; development of an operating model; and significantly upgrading and optimising the process-driven-asset-delivery-system, the Asset Creation Process, along a with notably refined complexity tool to streamline and safe-guard delivery.

2. Description of project or framework addressing the assessment criteria

  • Use of Best Practice Asset Management Principles
  • Degree of originality and ingenuity of solution
  • Program and project management
  • Benefit/Value of the project or service to the community or organisation
  • Submission

NOTE: All figures containing submission supporting evidence referenced below are contained in the Question 4 response of this submission. Hyperlinks have also been included to other websites with ancillary information. An acronym key is included thereafter to facilitate review (the text in this paragraph, foot notes and the acronym key excluded from the word count). Alignment to asset management concepts and principles are referenced in [orange font and square brackets] for ease of identification.

Best practice asset management begins with best practice asset creation: the core business of Delivery Management (DM) (Figure4) at Sydney Water Corporation (SWC). In 2018, DM completed a series of innovative process optimisation initiatives to significantly uplift performance across all key measures, traversing management, operations and project delivery. These consisted of three initiatives run concurrently as two projects in 2017-2018 as part of the ‘Enable & Optimise’ streams in the ‘Towards Organisational Excellence Program’ (Figure22) and which advance SWC’s corporate strategy towards a high-performing culture.

The ongoing program involves consultants and has clearly defined results (Figure23). The benefits are measured via ongoing DM Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) at the program level and by a myriad of mechanisms at the project level e.g. surveys [output-principle]. The projects commenced separately but were rolled out together with an integrated change-management-plan. Each had a project manager that reported into the Program Manager and Steering Committee. Each entailed significant research, stakeholder engagement, documentation review and quality controls.

The original and innovative solutions include:

  1. The design and development of a bespoke Management Operating System (MOS) (Figure27) as an overarching and fit-for-purpose framework [enabling-capabilities-principle] to enhance leadership, performance and agility including upgraded performance mechanisms. This was complex work.

The ingenuity of the MOS is its ability to support continual improvement [learning-principle] and control by providing panoramic integrated performance measurement (Figure6) [output-principle] and prescribing expected tasks (standard-requirements) and required outputs (results) over varying periods weekly/monthly/annual) for all leadership levels[1] (Figure25) and governance functions whilst overlaying the plan-do-check-act cycle throughout [assurance-principle] (Figure1&26). Aka “It’s How We Deliver”.

The MOS features a defined cadence of communication, reporting & engagement with teams, stakeholders and delivery contractors (DC’s) including regular data-driven reviews at: regional quarterly all-inclusive contractor meetings (Figure12); Quarterly Connections with regional managers (Figure3); monthly team meetings; and one-on-one manager-employee meetings.

  • The development of an operating model along with a comprehensive operating manual (“It’s How We Do Things”) (Figure24) [enabling-capabilities-principle] to support leaders, staff and project team members in their daily work encompassing both business-as-usual and projects/programs including enablers such as technology (e.g. Helix process-mapping-tool), people and support processes (Figure5) [enabling-capabilities-principle].

The biggest challenge was distilling and integrating a multitude of sources and information – effectively 360° of process/systems to “one source of truth” [assurance-principle] – entailing significant stakeholder engagement. The reporting mechanisms [output-principle] and continual improvement cycles (see above) are integrated in the model (Figure6) – plus other learning loops e.g. Post Implementation Reviews (Figure13) [learning-principle].

  • The rollout of a significantly upgraded version of the asset-delivery-platform, Helix version-2 (v2).  Helix v2 maps comprehensive and optimised step-by-step processes and designated resource responsibilities across the entire project lifecycle; as per the internal project management methodology for infrastructure projects, the ISO55000 aligned Asset Creation Process (ACP) (Figure7).  It also incorporates a notably refined project complexity tool to streamline and safe-guard delivery (Figure9,10&21) [enabling-capabilities-principle] plus some new functionality[2].

One of the major challenges was modelling such a large and varied set of optimum project delivery pathways in a way that did not intimidate users (Figure8). This involved; mapping 68 processes to a level-5 detail (task-level), which were previously mapped to a level-1 detail (process-overview); plus 12+ workshops with 30+ subject matter experts (SME’s); multiple quality reviews; then connecting the maps to develop the end-to-end ACP integrating governance approvals, permissioning, templates/tools, process-performers and amalgamating these into a concise RACI structure.

The simplicity of the solution considering the complexity of the process network was ingenious. Staff follow the ACP map in Helix through the lifecycle. This assurance strong approach improves risk management, safety, quality control, delivery consistency and project management [assurance-and-output-principles].

The adoption of an enhanced complimentary complexity tool (Figure10&21), the standard for infrastructure projects, allows for specific process exemptions for low risk/complexity projects throughout the lifecycle thereby scaling project effort and improving performance (linked to the MOS and KPI framework) [output-principle].

Importantly these three innovations work in harmony to uplift performance (Figure11) and outcomes at the organisation, portfolio, program, project and team levels by orientating and guiding leaders, stakeholders and staff [all-principles].

The launch comprised a blended rollout strategy with multiple workshops, e-learning tools for Helix v2 (e.g. You Tube videos) and gamified simulations (Game of Moans & Le Brouhaha) used to embed the new tools using fun as a mechanism to embed change.

The benefits and value of the program are reflected in the following results:

  • SWC was recognised as an exemplar capital delivery model by the Major Projects Association in the UK in 2018
  • International accreditation process underway for ISO55000 Standards for Asset Management
  • KPI’s show trending growth in performance across all seven measures (safety, environment, community, quality, schedule, cashflow & stakeholder satisfaction) (Figure14,16,17)
  • Improved performance has translated into 15% contractor cost efficiency, managed with 10% fewer resources than budgeted
  • The FTE per $1M of program delivered continues to reduce with data showing we are at least 30% more efficient from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018 (Figure15)
  • Capital results have significantly improved. The program capital target for 2017-2018FY was $450 million. $460 million of delivery was achieved, exceeding the capital program for the first time ever. DM’s ambitious capital target for this FY is 20% more than last year ($540 million) with a flat-headcount (Figure18)
  • DM consistently gets the highest staff-feedback results in SWC (Figure19)
  • Integrated delivery has improved DC performance (reflected within DM-KPIs). This aligns with the ‘stakeholder circle’ in the Asset-Management-Concept-Model and the ‘customer at the heart’ in SWC’s organisation chart (Figure2)
  • Quantitative and qualitative results obtained from an employee survey designed to assess the measurable impact of the new tools was overwhelmingly positive. 100% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed that “I am applying the new processes, tools and skills” (Figure20).

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

SWC deserves to win the ‘Asset Management Innovation Award’ for demonstrating to other utilities how to best develop, rollout and perform to a standardised set of innovative optimised end-to-end processes, work as one united team under an integrated management operating system and model, and as a result streamline infrastructure project delivery and enhance asset management with proven performance results. The resulting framework is strongly aligned towards outputs, assurance, learning and enabling capabilities – the principles of asset management.

These initiatives are strategically and commercially important to SWC as they materially mature the asset management and business model and improve: capital results; project management delivery; business and division integration; strategic leadership; staff on-boarding; process standardisation and compliance; reporting; plus, performance and outcomes across diverse measures including environmental, safety, community, staff, financial and programs/projects. Together these process improvements advance the business and drive a high-performance culture committed to continual improvement and agile adaptive leadership.

Such exemplar models are beneficial in any industry and time – but are critical in the water industry who provide the lifestream for the future and face significant growth demands (e.g. population growth, rapid urbanisation), new technology, societal and environmental challenges (e.g. sustainability, drought, naturalisation[3]) along with regulatory drivers.

To illustrate the importance of optimisation in this space, note that “based on current projections, the population of SWC’s area of operations is expected to exceed 8.5 million, an increase of 75%, by 2060” (Figure29). In this vein, innovation and process optimisation in all aspects of asset management is not just ideal but essential to serve the current and future water needs of the community. 

4. General comments you may wish to add

Attach photos, plans, reports etc that demonstrate particular features of the project or framework (maximum 500 words)

Evidence supporting the main submission (see Q2) are included herein. Words contained within images and footnotes are excluded from the word count.

SWC confirms it meets the eligibility requirements stipulated for ‘Awards Part A’ in the application form (Figure30).  Photos are attached separately as required (Figure28)

Figure 1: Overview of the MOS Framework mirroring the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle

Figure 2:  SWC’s Organisation Chart: support services in the outer ring, operational customer facing teams in the inner ring – with our customers at the heart.

Figure 3: Liveable City Solutions Structure: aligned to SWC’s service creation process & delivering across the entire SWC operational area

Figure 4: Delivery Management Organisation Chart

Figure 5: Overview of the Operating Model

Extract from the DM Operating Manual.

Figure 6: Strategy, Goals and KPI’s integrated in all frameworks/deliverables/processes

Figure 7: The five standard project phases in the Helix ACP

Figure 8: Helix Optimisation

Below is a snapshot of one of the breakout groups with relevant subject matter experts to optimise process delivery pathways & where the walls are literally covered with process maps.

Figure 9: Project Complexity Tool & the Asset Creation Process

Extract from the Operating Manual

Figure 10: Level 1 Helix ACP Process Map

Extract from the operating manual.

Figure11: The DM Operating Model, MOS & Operating Manual

How these three operate in harmony.

Figure 12: Photo of Performance & Action Meetings (PAMS) with Delivery Contractors

Figure 13: Project/Program Post Implementation Review process (extract from operating manual)

Figure 14: : Delivery Management KPI League Table & performance trend for 2015-18

Note the temporary decline in performance from July 2018 was due to an upgrade/maturity of the KPI framework to produce a stronger performance platform.

Figure 15: Project Management FTE per $1M of Program Delivered

Figure 16: Safety metrics – Total Recordable Injury Frequency (TRIFR)

Figure 17: Various Performance Measures

Figure 18: Current Delivery Financial Performance vs FY17/18 and look ahead to FY19/20

Figure 19: Employee Pulse Surveys (September 2018)

Figure 20: Staff Feedback Surveys Post Rollout of the ‘Enable & Optimise’ Projects

Extracts only.

Figure 21: High-Level Helix ACP Process Map, Complexity Rating & Gateways (GW) Governance

Figure 22: ‘Towards Organisational Excellence’ Program Strategy

Figure 23: Program Outputs (based on McKinsey Model)

Figure 24: Delivery Management – Operating Manual (addendum)

The DM Operating Manual is addended  to the main submission and demonstrates the operating model with filename: SWC_DM_OperatingManual

Figure 25:  Stratum Levels in MOS

Figure 26: MOS Standard Requirements (leader tasks & outputs)

Figure 27:  Delivery Management – Management Operating System (addendum)

The MOS is addended to the main submission and demonstrates the management operating framework filename: SWC_DM_MOS

Figure 28: Two High Resolution Jpeg file (addendum)

The following files are attached separately to the submission.


  1. SWC_Workers
  2. SWC_Community

Figure 29: Reference

M Dawson, L Uthayakumaran, L Maunsell, S Davies, S Cook, M Moglia and S J Cork. (2018). ‘Planning for uncertain water futures’, water source (Australian Water Association). Retrieved from

Figure 30: SWC Submission  Approval

Acronym Key

An acronym key has been included to support submission review (exclude from word count).

  • ACP – Asset Creation Process
  • DC – Delivery Contractors
  • DM – Delivery Management
  • H&S – Health & Safety
  • Helix v2 – refers to the optimised version of the Helix Asset Creation Process
  • KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators
  • Q – Question e.g. Q4
  • MOS – Management Operating System
  • PAMS – Performance and action meetings (quarterly sessions run by DM and including all DC’s)
  • S&W – Safety & Wellbeing
  • SWC – Sydney Water Corporation.
  • TRIFR – Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate
  • WHS – Work Health Safety

[1] The leadership levels were mapped to the stratum levels defined by Elliot Jaques (1997) in ‘Requisition Organisation: A Total System for Effective Managerial Organization and Managerial Leadership for the 21st Century’, Taylor & Francis Ltd (Figure 25)

[2] Additional enabled Helix functionality included a glossary, external collaboration mechanisms (for remote access by staff and DC’s alike) and an in-situ system change request function.

[3] The volume of SWC’s naturalisation projects are increasing to support sustainability. These convert existing water assets to more sustainable solutions (e.g. converting concrete assets to sandstone) such as the following current projects: Strangers Creek, Powell’s Creek and Alexandria Canal. 

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