This paper describes the basis of a stakeholder-based sustainable optimisation indicator (SOI) system to be developed for small-to-medium sized activated sludge (AS) wastewater treatment plants (WwTPs) in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Key technical publications relating to best practice plant operation, performance audits and optimisation, and indicator and benchmarking systems for wastewater services are identified. Optimisation studies were developed at a number of Irish AS WwTPs and key findings are presented. A national AS WwTP manager/operator survey was carried out to verify the applied operational findings and identify the key operator stakeholder requirements for this proposed SOI system. It was found that most plants require more consistent operational data-based decision-making, monitoring and communication structures to facilitate optimised, sustainable and continuous performance improvement. The applied optimisation and stakeholder consultation phases form the basis of the proposed stakeholder-based SOI system. This system will allow for continuous monitoring and rating of plant performance, facilitate optimised operation and encourage the prioritisation of performance improvement through tracking key operational metrics. Plant optimisation has become a major focus due to the transfer of all ROI water services to a national water utility from individual local authorities and the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive.