Maximizing Efficiencies and Reducing Risk Through Site Proximity
For water and wastewater management firms providing services to decentralized sites spanning a large geographic area, implementing a model of dispersed service districts represents an organizational structure best practice to ensure that operators can rapidly attend to emergencies in a cost-effective manner. By doing so, we offer our clients reduced operator travel costs and improved response time to mitigate the risk of spills or non-compliances.
Following the partnership with ASI Water in May 2019, our combined management team worked together integrating the Clearford Waterworks (Clearford) and ASI Water operations teams and business support systems. Outlining each district based off site locations was the foundation in building a team within each geographic area. With a priority customer service objective of providing the quickest response time possible to all sites across a service area over 100,000 square kilometres, taking into consideration everything from staff workload and travel times to opportunities for integrating remote-control technologies, we were able to reduce the need for staff to make unscheduled site visits.
After joining forces, operations reached its critical mass which led to an immediate focus on how to properly organize ourselves to achieve efficiency and close proximity to plant sites.
Before we lead into the district structure strategy, let’s take a moment to understand the importance of the roles of District Supervisors and Operators, along with support to all districts from Account Managers, Engineers, and the Director of Operations. Imagine each defined role as a cog on a wheel. If one single cog is responsible for running all sites in its district, that cog would likely get worn down quickly, resulting in slower response time. Adding another cog to the wheel will help distribute the workload, leading to a quicker response time. This continuous effort to add more cogs results in better efficiency, reliability, and opens up the door for growth. The company maximizes its value by having access to various key personnel, ensuring fluidity in operations, resilience, and the capacity for growth.
District Key Personnel
The process of structuring Clearford’s districts involved several vital steps. And within these steps, also came challenges.
Grouping of Clearford’s sites: After plotting all of Clearford’s sites on a map, district boundaries were outlined to minimize response time. This was an iterative process that took some adjustments to set district boundaries to best optimize our operations and ensure our clients were adequately serviced.
Fulfill Districts with Key Personnel: Senior management collaborated to arrange existing staff into the roles needed to fulfill the operational requirements of each district, and met frequently to interview prospective in-house candidates for the newly defined roles of District Supervisor and Director of Operations such that the majority of new leaders were promoted from within the company. Managing the workforce of our District Supervisors and remote Operators across the province were based on client location and ideal response time.
Assign Account Manager to each Clearford site: The client has direct contact with the assigned Account Manager who is familiar with the status and deliverables of their sites. This role has a hand in managing the time, budget, and quality control for each site. Assignment of the Account Manager is crucial to ensure the contract is carried out successfully.
Once the parameters of each geographical area were mapped out, the capacity of each district was evaluated to determine workload balance. In doing so, the assumed defined lines that separated each district shifted a bit in order to better manage client sites and reduce overtime and stress on our operators.
Growth and Fluidity
Currently, Clearford has 9 districts, each with a District Supervisor, and over 30 licensed operators organized to provide professional water and wastewater management services to almost 200 sites across the province. Additionally, the operators are supported by a team of engineers, compliance specialists, instrumentation and controls technicians, and account managers. Due to the exponential growth in operations, new roles have been developed in efforts to guarantee that operators are on-call within close proximity to the plant sites and that these operators are supported by District Supervisors and special teams. Our district structure will continue to evolve as new contracts are signed and Clearford’s team continues its growth.