Aligning Short-Term Investment with Long-Term Strategy
A Jaiswal, C Moore, M Wilton, M Healey
Publication Date (Web): 31 October 2017

The Opportunity
Emerging trends and challenges including growth, community expectations, liveability, environmental requirements, changing climates and ageing assets are shaping a new direction for urban water utilities. 
To better manage these challenges, Sydney Water has capitalised on ‘Big Data’ by developing an adaptive strategic planning framework that efficiently integrates portfolios and product drivers in the development of System Blueprints. The blueprints map current and future system priorities (integrating treatment and networks assets) in the context of the above multiples drivers, provide a clearer picture of the long-term requirements and promote optimised investment decisions and improved customer services.

This paper presents the foundation of the strategic planning framework process, which is considered to be more: 

  • intelligent – tapping into systems, technology, data, information and knowledge
  • integrated – whole-of-system synergistic planning process that incorporates multiple drivers and stakeholder groups
  • innovative – producing optimised top-down strategies that are balanced with bottom-up risks, issues and opportunities
  • adaptive – develops potential future strategic pathways to inform prudent and efficient investments in the context of potential futures and potential adaptive pathways.

The Methodology
The key principles that define the successful adaptive strategic planning framework approach are:

  • Collaboration across many internal stakeholder groups to capture inherent knowledge, opportunities and risks and to gain a common goal across business functions
  • Leverage asset information, performance data, program investment plans, risk and opportunity (‘Big Data’) within a Geographical Information System for spatial and temporal analysis
  • Robust risk framework to determine strategic and non-strategic risks, issues and opportunities
  • A top down tiered systems approach that integrates across systems, programs, network and treatment 
  • Bundling of opportunities for detailed planning
  • Adaptive pathways to produce 5 and 30-year investment and action plans
  • A repeatable documented process 

The Results
The three System Blueprint case study examples (1 - Prospect and Woronora, 2 – Nepean, and 3 - Macarthur delivery systems) cover over 90% of the Sydney’s drinking water system that supplies 4.9 million people with 1700 ML per day of drinking water. They demonstrate how short-term and long-term priorities for a system have been aligned over a 30-year planning horizon in the context of multiple drivers.

By combining local drivers with system wide objectives, an improved understanding of system resilience and capacity was gained by looking at the systems as a whole (treatment and networks) that presented alternative adaptive pathways. This resulted in:

  • Improvements in system operations that better leveraged existing assets such as in system storage and operational responses to short term water supply issues.
  • Adjacent systems interconnectivity for overall improved resilience across those systems and deferral of major renewals (over $60M).
  • In-system connectivity to leverage existing system capacities to service growth and defer growth investments.
  • Understanding of emerging constraints in the longer-term to feed into more integrated Sydney-wide Master Planning.

In summary the process provided synergy across the business, including transparent and demonstrable decision making, improved operations and emergency responses, demonstrable prudent and efficient investment decisions and adaptive strategic pathways to guide future investments.


Click here to read the full paper