Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Birmingham Water Works has remained on course in our mission to deliver quality water and service to our customers, navigating challenges such as maintaining continuity when employees miss work due to illness.
The leadership team continues to monitor the pandemic as new strains emerge with help from the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This information enables the organization to make internal policies and procedures that help us operate daily.
“When you talk about service you're not just talking about quality water. You're talking about maintaining the system, repairing and responding to leaks,” said Michael Johnson, General Manager. “And we've been able to operate at a level that's maintained our financial stability and viability. When you look at our employees, they've done everything that we've asked them to do.”
One of the key accomplishments of the organization in 2021 was the completion of its strategic plan, which provides a framework of how we operate over the next five years.
Developed with the involvement of the Board of Directors, the strategic plan follows the best practices for water utilities, known formally as Effective Utility Management. The plan defines the organization’s mission, vision, and long-term priorities and acts as a guide for the allocation of resources and succession planning.
As part of the planning process, the leadership team established goals for six key areas, namely product quality, workforce development, fiscal health, infrastructure stability, customer service, and corporate governance.
“The number one goal of any organization should be having a plan in place that's well communicated throughout its workforce and has been developed in a way that has been collaborative and that individuals feel that they've had the right kind of input in it. And we're fortunate that we have that plan,” said Johnson.
The plan also places a premium on how the organization cares for its employees.
“When you have a workforce that you take care of, meaning you provide adequate benefits, pay, and you show them that you care, then you're going to have high morale. When you have high morale, turnover is kept at a reasonable level. And so, when you focus on your workforce, realizing that they're very key in making your organization run well, then you're setting yourself up to be successful. That's especially important in a company like ours that renders a service and there's a lot of interaction with customers, and you want people to feel good about their interactions.”
As the new year begins, the top priority for the organization remains to deliver quality water to our customers, including maintaining the system and ensuring systems are in place to enable us to better serve our customers. Now, with the strategic plan in place, accomplishing the goals outlined in the plan become not only priorities for the organization but also a catalyst for delivering quality water to our customers.