Linking Day-to-Day Operations to Business Strategy


“Identifying and establishing internal and external measures for all divisions that focus on process improvement, better understanding of operating costs, reducing those costs, and streamlining the organization” is presented as a major initiative in the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati’s (“MSDGC”) 2005-2008 Strategic Plan. This paper examines the implementation process MSDGC has followed to establish a Performance Management Dashboard System that links its daily operations to its vision, mission, and overall business strategy, and the steps taken to begin the creation of a performance management culture within one of the country’s largest municipal wastewater utilities.

Starting in February 2006, each of MSDGC’s operating divisions participated in facilitated workshops to define the set of measures intended to improve performance, while exceeding the expectations of ratepayers and stakeholders. While establishing divisional performance measures, MSDGC was looking for a process and tool that would not only help it monitor and track individual performance indicators, but would help to align MSDGC business strategy around a meaningful structure, cascade it through the various divisions and sections to the individual business units, and gain substantial employee “buy-in” along the way. MSDGC worked with Black & Veatch to adopt the Balanced Scorecard as its alignment tool, solicit input and performance measure ideas from a cross section of employees within each operating division, and translate the performance measures generated during the workshops into a visual dashboard display designed to expedite decision-making and facilitate MSDGC communication.

The Balanced Scorecard is organized around four distinct perspectives: financial; customer; internal business processes; and learning, training, and growth. The concept helps organizations build a balance between financial and non-financial indicators, while placing emphasis on predictive and reactive, long and short-term, and internal and external performance goals. Implementing the performance indicators and Balanced Scorecard structure resulting from the
workshops into a visual format can quickly provide organizational management with a concise summary of information needed to make decisions and adjust day-to-day activities to positively impact organizational performance. MSDGC has worked to develop its Performance Management Dashboard System to align the individual operating divisions’ activities to the organization’s overall business strategy and to focus MSDGC’s efforts and resources on performance challenges within the District while improving the overall quality of service provided to its customers and stakeholders.

In the short term, using the Performance Management Dashboard System will help MSDGC establish a baseline for the utility and ensure that it aligns its strategic mission with the results it wants to achieve in each division. In the longer term, the performance measures it develops and monitors will let MSDGC know to what degree it is improving and will assist management in communicating the utility’s progress to its stakeholders; thus, keeping them informed about where the organization has been successful in its efforts to increase efficiencies and about where it still needs to focus attention on internal process changes that have causal effects on meeting customer needs and improving MSDGC’s bottom line.

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