18 

 

NARRATIVE: The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (Water Authority) has 
established a culture of organizational excellence that has created positive change in the management 
of the utility.  It has adopted the tenets of Effective Utility Management and fostered continuous 
performance improvement to achieve its vision, mission and long-term goals.  The utility has committed 
to improving communication with its stakeholders by engaging its employees and customers, and has 
proven itself an innovator in managing scarce water resources in its service area. 
 
Effective Utility Management 
In 2011, the Water Authority began to integrate the Effective Utility Management (EUM) framework 
into its strategic business planning and performance management processes.  In addition to measuring 
its performance using a set of water and wastewater industry indicators, the Water Authority also 
incorporates the recommended indicators from the 2008 EUM Primer.  
 
Since 2013, the utility has produced EUM Quarterly Reports containing 42 key performance indicators to 
measure the progress in each EUM Attribute area and identify gaps in performance. The utility then 
develops performance targets to address the gaps through metric and process benchmarking.  These 
performance targets are measured against the desired outcomes expressed in the vision, mission and 
long-term goals as a way of gauging the organization’s effectiveness in achieving its objectives.  Besides 
systematizing the utility’s performance management efforts, this process also provides a framework for 
communicating to stakeholders how utility priorities are set and why financial resources are allocated 
the way they are. 
 
The Water Authority also is using the EUM Benchmarking Tool as part of its continuous performance 
improvement process.  The Tool creates a customized self-assessment containing only the relevant 
attributes, practice areas, and performance measures identified by the utility.  In 2014, the utility 
completed its first round of the self-assessment utilizing 99 of the Tool’s 118 performance measures.  In 
2015 and 2016, a leadership committee used the results of this self-assessment to evaluate the utility’s 
EUM Attribute performance gaps on the 99 chosen performance measures.  Based on the outcome of 
this evaluation, the committee developed a guiding document with recommendations for performance 
improvement.   
 
A major benefit of the Tool is that it has helped the Water Authority facilitate internal discussion 
regarding performance, strategy evaluation, and establishment of future business objectives.  
 
Innovation Communication Management 
Communication plays a significant role in promoting innovation management in as much as it promotes 
buy-in and acceptance from employees and customers as the utility adopts new practices, policies, and 
programs.  Therefore Water Authority has adapted its business model to place a high priority on 
educating employees and customers regarding the utility’s strategic objectives. Two “low-tech” 
engagement efforts that have shown particular promise in this area are Employee Expectations and 
Customer Conversations.  
 
Employee Expectations – This program ensures that all employees’ performance goals are aligned with 
the policy strategic objectives adopted annually by the governing board.  This alignment has helped to 
educate employees about the utility’s core values, goals and annual objectives. It has engaged 
employees by demonstrating to them how their work fits into the “big picture” of utility goals and 
objectives.  By linking employee success to the success of the utility, Employee Expectations promotes