Development strategy of EVEL

The development strategy Eng: PDF orig

Approved at the General Meeting of EVEL on 23.03.2012

 

The DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

of the Estonian Water Works Association

for 2012-2016

Contents

I      THE PURPOSE AND CREATION OF THE STRATEGY DOCUMENT   3

II    THE CURRENT SITUATION OF EVEL  4

III       THE MISSION AND VALUES OF EVEL  9

V         THE OBJECTIVES OF EVEL AND THE TASKS NECESSARY FOR THE FULFILMENT THEREOF  11

VI       THE OPERATION MODEL OF EVEL FOR CARRYING OUT THE STRATEGY   15

VII      THE MONITORING OF THE STRATEGY AND THE ASSESSMENT OF RESULTS  17

ANNEXES  18

Financial forecast for 2011-2015  18

Plans of action  18

Matrices for the monitoring of the strategy  18

 

I        THE PURPOSE AND CREATION OF THE STRATEGY DOCUMENT

The purpose of the strategic activity of the Estonian Water Works Association (hereinafter referred to as EVEL (Eesti Vee-ettevõtete Liit)) and this document is to analyse circumstances that have been beneficial for the activity of EVEL, and to use and assess current and future possibilities wisely. The establishment of reasonable and clever steps to be taken requires steadiness and the analysis of different possibilities.

The strategy of EVEL was prepared between January 2011 and February 2012. During that period of time, we:

1) consulted with our cooperation partners, held discussion meetings at different locations in Estonia, and formed four joint groups: the joint groups of the South, North, East and West;

2) held a brainstorming session in Haapsalu, looked back on earlier experiences, and formed a working group on strategy;

3) conducted a questionnaire, performed an analysis, and determined our strengths and weaknesses as well as expectations and possibilities;

4) formulated the mission, values, general and strategic objectives of EVEL, and the tasks necessary for the fulfilment of these objectives;

5) amended the Articles of Association of EVEL correspondingly.

The creation of the development strategy of EVEL was led by its Management Board that also included other members of EVEL. The draft strategy was presented to the General Meeting of EVEL for approval. This strategy document outlines the strategic objectives of EVEL for 2012-2016.

The strategy document will be reviewed and, if necessary, supplemented at the General Meeting once a year. The members of EVEL will introduce the strategy to their customers and cooperation partners. The Management Board of EVEL will use the strategy as the basis for making important decisions. The members of EVEL are proud of their strategy, ambitious in their activity, and act as an example for others.

II       THE CURRENT SITUATION OF EVEL  

The objective and structure of EVEL

EVEL was founded in April 1995 by 11 water companies. The General Meeting and the Management Board serve as the governing bodies of EVEL and the Board of Directors serves as the executive body. EVEL is a non-profit association.

The statutory objective of EVEL is to help to improve the technical and economic state of its members, and to develop joint activity. Nevertheless, there have been no specific measurers as to the fulfilment of this objective and, therefore, the progress towards the achievement of this objective has not been measured. It is possible that EVEL has interpreted its statutory objective too narrowly, focusing primarily on the interests of water companies. The main question: “What are the strategic interests of water companies ensuring successful activity in longer perspective?” has remained unclear. Due to that, little attention has been paid to the expectations of consumers regarding the quality of services and the customer service, environmental protection, and the well-being of the society in general.

The reputation of EVEL

The members of EVEL are not satisfied with its reputation.

The main reasons for the unsatisfactory reputation of EVEL are the following:

–          there is no publicly known opinion-former;

–          communication and relations with the public (including consumers) are poor;

–          EVEL is not very well known among the public and receives insufficient media coverage;

–          the membership does not include the majority of water companies;

–          the dissemination of information is not very systematic nor attractive;

–          international communication has come to a standstill.

Assessment of the current activities of EVEL

The attitude of the members of EVEL towards its activities is positive. The positive attitude derives from the wish to be a member of EVEL, thereby receiving the possibility to communicate, participate in joint trainings and resolve similar problems together.

In terms of the creation of legislation, the efficiency of EVEL has been rather modest, but there are signs of improvement. Low efficiency has been caused by the poor reputation of EVEL in the eyes of legislators as well as its passiveness and lack of consistency in taking and maintaining the initiative. In the creation of legislation, EVEL needs to become a significantly more influential partner to legislators than it has managed to be so far. It must be noted that state institutions and leading politicians have started to pay more attention to the involvement of interest groups and the promotion of good legislative practice. Presently, the ability of EVEL to act efficiently in processes impacting the legal system is still low. It lacks both human and financial resources.

Training activity can be deemed rather positive. It has been constant and the most visible, understandable and measurable activity for the members of EVEL. By participating in trainings, members can also satisfy their need to communicate. Obviously, it is not a sufficient reason for being satisfied. Likewise, it cannot be the most important activity in the process towards achieving the objectives of EVEL.

The cost of trainings for the members of EVEL is an important issue. As a rule, the seminars of EVEL were free of charge for the members of EVEL and for a charge for non-members until 2011. Since 2011, the members of EVEL have also had to pay for trainings to cover the costs of coffee breaks and training materials. It has not been conclusively agreed upon, to which extent costs should be covered on the account of membership fees and to which extent trainings should be available for a charge. The organisation of trainings from the perspective of PR needs to be more thoroughly thought over than it has been so far.

The dissemination of information is of utmost importance for EVEL. The most efficient medium for the dissemination of information could be the homepage which was in an unsatisfactory condition for quite a long time and had a bad impact on the reputation of EVEL. The homepage (www.evel.ee) was updated by the end of 2011. Via the web, EVEL keeps its members in touch with important and topical matters, forwards documents, and spreads information about various events.

In earlier years, the newsletter of EVEL, Teataja, used to be published four times a year. It has contained statistical data about water companies (so-called indicators) as well as technical kind of writings and reports on seminars. Teataja is not very attractive. In general, members feel that Teataja should be published. Teataja used to be published on paper, but the last publication was only available electronically. Teataja has been targeted to the members of EVEL. By today, the publication of Teataja has been suspended until there is an integral solution for communication in the context of PR.

EVEL has no data medium that is periodically published and targeted outside the organisation; there is no attractive material that could be distributed to joint organisations, potential members and other target groups.

The collection and benchmarking of activity indicators regarding water management. Information about water prices collected by EVEL from its members is good. The bases and methods for collecting so-called technical and economic indicators, their analysis and the reasonability thereof are less satisfactory. There are absolutely no measurers regarding the quality indicators of water companies belonging to EVEL to be used for benchmarking.

EVEL has formed a working group and started work for the collection of indicators and benchmarking.

Joint activity covers both work and leisure time. In terms of everyday work, joint activity mainly covers the activity of working groups for resolving certain issues. Members gather for round table discussions. The summer days of EVEL are the most important leisure time event. Joint activity has not been described clearly enough and is not systematic. All possibilities for improving joint activity have not been analysed. Joint procurements for the purchase of services and items would be warmly welcomed by the members of EVEL.

The needs and possibilities for encouraging joint activity have not been thought through. The great diversity of the needs and possibilities of members poses a great challenge for joint activity.

By today, there are five active working groups:

  1. Working group on strategy (abbreviation STR), created with the decision of the Management Board of EVEL on 25.03.2011. Its objective is to lead the creation and updating of the development strategy of EVEL.
  2. Working group on legislative work (abbreviation SLT), created with the e-decision of the Management Board of EVEL on 20.05.2011. Its objective is to improve the water business environment through active participation in the creation and amendment of relevant legislation.
  3. Working group on the charges for connection to the public water supply and sewerage system (abbreviation ÜVKT), created with the decision of the Management Board of EVEL on 08.06.2011. Its objective is to develop the methodology for determining the charges for connection to the public water supply and sewerage system deriving from the implementation of the Public Water Supply and Sewerage Act. Another objective is to develop rules for connection to and use of the public water supply and sewerage system.
  4. Working group on indicators (abbreviation INT), created with the decision of the Management Board of EVEL on 05.09.2011. Its objective is to collect and develop technical, economic and quality-related indicators about water companies belonging to EVEL in order to draw necessary and reliable benchmarking conclusions regarding the situation of water business and the functioning of water companies as compared to other member companies of EVEL (but also compared to non-members, if possible). Data and conclusions can be used to improve the activity of water companies and make the water business environment more efficient through legislative work.
  5. Working group on communication (abbreviation PRT), created with the decision of the Management Board of EVEL between 13 and 20 January 2012. Its objective is to organise the internal, external and public relations of EVEL, to create and maintain a good cooperation environment between the members and partners of EVEL, and to involve new members.

Activities and insignia related to recognition have so far been random and need to be improved.

There is still no symbolic event held on a regular basis that would represent the values of EVEL and receive media attention.

The preparation of a statute for scholarships and its application for students is under discussion.

International activity has come to a standstill. At the moment, EVEL is not a member of any international organisation and does not have any permanent forms of cooperation or relations. In earlier years, it used to have professional contacts with EUREAU (European Federation of National Associations of Water and Wastewater Services, http://eureau.org/). The membership of EVEL in EUREAU has been suspended. The Management Board of EVEL is considering the revival of contacts with EUREAU.

EVEL also plans to revive relations with Latvia and Lithuania under the name of so-called Baltic cooperation which could result in the organisation of a high-level conference.

EVEL as a competence centre is developing. Currently, the competences of members have not been mapped or systematised and are insufficiently organised. At present, the concentration and output of competences lies primarily in the work results of the working groups. At the same time, members expect the concentration of specific specialists at EVEL (so-called trustees recommended by EVEL), whom they could turn to with specific questions. The joining of members for the purpose of improving competence and the quality of customer service has become a trend.

The efficient organisation and improvement of the competences of members and the skilful dissemination of relevant information could become the main factor serving as the foundation for the influence and reputation of EVEL.

Activities and services targeted to the members of EVEL have not sufficiently taken into consideration the differences of members in terms of their needs and expectations. There are no performance indicators (measurers) regarding the activities of EVEL.

The description of target groups and existing members. Today, EVEL has 59 members who are legal persons, including 39 water companies providing the service of water supply and sewerage and 20 companies related to the field of water management (consultants, sellers of fittings for water supply and sewerage systems, builders).

During the creation of the strategy, the members of EVEL have, with certain hesitations, reached the agreement that the concentration of various legal persons operating in the field of water management is what makes EVEL a strong association. The question is how to ensure the representation of the interests of water companies such that water companies would decide on the development directions to be taken and non-water companies would clearly perceive their role and benefit in that process.

Cooperation with partners. Cooperation with local governments has taken place primarily at the level of the Association of Estonian Cities in the legislative process which is not sufficient, since water companies mainly belong to local governments who are responsible for the development of water services. In cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment, EVEL has initiated and is carrying out a training project primarily targeted to the specialists at local governments in addition to water companies (evelÜVVK training). This project provides an opportunity to communicate with local governments and their unions more closely, and to improve the reputation of EVEL in local communities.

EVEL also has good cooperation contacts with the Ministry of the Environment in the field of legislative work. EVEL plans to start to organise regular round table meetings. EVEL has entered into a CONTRACT OF FREE WILL.

Cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs / the Health Board, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications / the Competition Board, the Ministry of Internal Affairs / the Rescue Board and other important partners is becoming more efficient.

Lobby work as a whole needs to be organised more specifically and made more efficient.

Up till now, cooperation with training and scientific research establishments has received little attention. EVEL is planning to develop this direction further and relevant consultations are currently taking place. EVEL has started consultations for strengthening contacts with the Tallinn University of Technology. EVEL also plans to hold a round table meeting in order to analyse developments and problems occurring in the water management sector.

Cooperation with other professional associations related to the area of activity of EVEL has only encompassed training activity in cooperation with the Estonian Association of Water Supply and Wastewater Engineers (Eesti Veevarustuse ja Kanalisatsiooni Inseneride Selts or EVKIS, http://www.evkis.ee/) and the Estonian Water Association (Eesti Veeühing, http://www.veeyhing.ee/). The concentration of resources for organising joint events and activities needs to be paid greater attention.

EVEL is represented in several national structures impacting the water management sector, such as the Water Management Committee of the Ministry of the Environment. A topical overview is available at the homepage of EVELhttp://www.evel.ee/organisatsioon/koostoopartnerid/.

The awareness of consumers about water business and the activity of water companies is modest. The managers of water companies feel that consumers generally have a hostile attitude towards water companies and the managers thereof, considering them greedy monopolists who do not care about the interests of consumers. Often, politicians tend to intensify such an attitude with their populistic comments (or silence, instead). There are no cooperation contacts with the Estonian Consumer Union or the Consumer Protection Board.

The financial resources of EVEL are mainly based on membership fees and, to a small extent, charges received for services and targeted financing (projects). Project-based activity together with the consistent acquirement of additional funds from different sources of financing definitely needs to become more efficient. The growth of the number of members enables to improve the financial condition of EVEL. The fee-charging advertising of services and products via the information channels of EVEL is an opportunity that has not been used.

III     THE MISSION AND VALUES OF EVEL

We value openness, united competence, reliability and joint activity.

These values are expressed in the everyday activity of EVEL as follows:

OPENNESS

  • The association has active contacts with interest groups and involves them into its activities.
  • We find an unequivocal answer to every question.
  • We are flexible and dare to make decisions.
  • Our doors are open for everyone.
  • Our mind and thoughts are free.

UNITED COMPETENCE

  • We share our best systematic knowledge and skills.
  • We value experience and know how to listen to, notice, unite and share experiences.
  • We act reasonably and steadily.
  • We are inquisitive and keen on learning.
  • We fill and develop a common information space.
  • We create new values.

RELIABILITY

  • We are ethical.
  • We stick to our words in our activity.
  • We are economically and socially responsible.

JOINT ACTIVITY

  • We are friendly and enjoy being together.
  • We see and listen to our people, are happy for successes and support each other in difficulties.
  • We recognise our dignified people and their acts.
    IV          THE ESSENCE OF THE STRATEGY OF EVEL

This strategy of EVEL is, in its essence, an organisational development strategy creating the prerequisites for moving towards a developed water business environment in cooperation with the state.

1.1 To create a system for the collection and analysis of technical-economic and quality-related indicators regarding water business.

1.2 To create an efficient system for the dissemination of information to members, joint groups and the media.

1.3 To revive international contacts.

1.4 To create mutually beneficial cooperation relations with scientific research and educational institutions, and other professional associations.

1.5 To become more successful in project competitions and public procurements.

1.6 To improve the efficiency of training activity, study trips and conferences.

2.1 To achieve the ability to have a dialogue with the state regarding legislation related to water business.

   2.2 To ensure regular and purposed cooperation with the public sector.

2.3 To grow the membership of EVEL.

2.4 To ensure the preparation of a water management strategy.

3.1 To implement a reputation management plan.

3.2 To advertise EVEL as a promoter of environmentally friendly way of thinking.

3.3 To support the good reputation of the members of EVEL in local communities.

3.4 EVEL encourages its members to improve the quality of services through benchmarking.

4.1 To support the joint activity and events of EVEL.

4.2 To implement an influential recognition system in EVEL.

 

V      THE OBJECTIVES OF EVEL AND THE TASKS NECESSARY FOR THE FULFILMENT THEREOF

The key for achieving the strategic objective of EVEL is an efficient and active leader who knows clear directions, and has a competent and motivated team. The leader should skilfully involve members into activities, perceive their expectations, be flexible, and know how to shape common activity leading to the fulfilment of objectives.

Strategic objectives

The strategy of EVEL comprises four main objectives that will guarantee the fulfilment of the general objective named above in longer perspective. In order to achieve the strategic objectives, EVEL has set various tasks and specified indicators proving the fulfilment thereof by the year 2016.

Objective No. 1: TO BE THE COOMPETENCE CENTRE OF THE BEST IDEAS AND KNOWLEDGE IN ITS AREA OF ACTIVITY

Tasks

Performance indicators for 2012-2016

1.1 To create a system for the collection and analysis of technical-economic and quality-related indicators regarding water business.

  • Activity indicators and methods for their collection and analysis have been developed.
  • Data has been stored in a corresponding database.
  • Data is used to conduct regular comparative analyses (benchmarking).

1.2 To create an efficient system for the dissemination of information to members, joint groups and the media.

  • The attendance analysis shows that the website of EVEL has become a constant source of information for members and joint groups.
  • Members are satisfied with the regularity, comprehensibility and amount of the information received.
  • Members perceive that EVEL has become more known among the public.

1.3 To revive international contacts.

  • EVEL is a member of EUREAU and cooperates with all sister associations in the Baltic States, Russia and the Nordic Countries.

1.4 To create mutually beneficial cooperation relations with scientific research and educational institutions, the Estonian Qualifications Authority and other professional associations.

  • Cooperation agreements with the Tallinn University of Technology, the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the University of Tartu have been concluded.
  • Framework agreements for cooperation with the Estonian Water Association and the Estonian Association of Water Supply and Wastewater Engineers have been concluded.
  • At least five cooperation projects have been carried out.
  • A professional standard and curriculum for the operators of water treatment plants have been developed.

1.5 To become more successful in project competitions and public procurements.

  • At least 30% of budget incomes have been received through public procurements and projects.

1.6 To improve the efficiency and expediency of training activity, study trips and conferences.

  • Feedback on any training activities is collected on a regular basis.
  • The feedback assessment does not fall below 3 points out of 4, as an average.

 

Objective No. 2: TO BE A LEADER AND HELPER IN THE CREATION OF LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM AFFECTING WATER BUSINESS  

Tasks

Performance indicators for 2012-2016

2.1 To achieve the ability to make reasoned proposals and to have a dialogue with the state regarding legislation related to water business.

  • The amount of legislation on water business, in the creation of which EVEL has had a say, is growing.
  • The proportion of substantive proposals that have been taken into consideration has grown to over 60%.

2.2 To ensure regular and purposed cooperation with the public sector.

 

  • Collected data show the increase of the number of contacts, the amount of time contributed and the participation of EVEL.

2.3 To grow the membership of EVEL.

  • The membership of EVEL has grown to 90% of water companies operating in agglomerations with a population equivalent of 2000 or more.

2.4 To ensure the preparation of a water management strategy.

  • The current situation of water companies has been mapped and the financial need for the next financial period (2014…2020) has been determined.
  • Measures for ensuring proper drinking water supply and sewage water disposal for populations requiring water supply and sewage treatment have been planned (up till now, the measures were unorganised).
  • The strategy document for water management has been prepared.

 

Objective No. 3: TO BE A PROMOTER OF SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP SO THAT WATER COMPANIES WOULD BE RESPECTED IN THE COMMUNITY

Tasks

Performance indicators for 2012-2016

3.1 To implement a reputation management plan.

  • The reputation management strategy has been completed and implemented.
  • Indicators showing the fame and reputation of EVEL have improved.
  • EVEL has a reputation event known to the public.

3.2 To advertise EVEL among the consumers as a promoter of environmentally friendly way of thinking.

  • Customer satisfaction studies conducted among members show a corresponding change in assessments.
  • A study on the reputation of EVEL shows a change in assessments.

3.3 To support the good reputation of the members of EVEL in local communities.

  • The number of communal undertakings informed by the members is growing.
  • Feedback collected by members and EVEL shows the improvement of reputation.

3.4 EVEL encourages its members to improve the quality of services through benchmarking and best practices.

  • The monitoring of benchmarking indicators shows an upward trend.

 

Objective No. 4: TO SHAPE THE MEMBERSHIP INTO A GOOD AND UNIFORM TEAM THAT IS READY TO CONTRIBUTE AND ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY

Tasks

Performance indicators for 2012-2016

4.1 To support the joint activity and events of EVEL that encourage the involvement and self-initiative of members.

  • The proportion of members participating in working groups has grown.
  • The role of members in the organisation of events has grown.

4.2 To implement an influential recognition system in EVEL.

  • Statutes for recognition have been prepared and implemented.

 

VI     THE OPERATION MODEL OF EVEL FOR CARRYING OUT THE STRATEGY                                             

The highest body EVEL is the General Meeting of its members. The annual General Meeting takes place once a year. Among other things, the purpose of the General Meeting is to review the reports of the Management Board and the Audit Committee and the budget, and to approve them. The General Meeting gives an assessment to the activity of the Management Board and an authorisation for the approval of the supplementary budget. Also, the development strategy is approved and, if necessary, amended at the General Meeting.

EVEL is managed and represented by a Management Board that is elected at the General Meeting, comprises three to nine members, and is led by a Chairman elected by the Management Board. The main duties of the Management Board are to carry out the decisions made at the General Meeting and statutory objectives, to plan the development strategy of EVEL, to organise communication with the public, and to employ the Executive Director. On the proposal of the Executive Director, the Management Board has the right to formworking groups and designate members to these groups. All members of EVEL may participate in the meeting of the Management Board with advisory votes. Minutes of the meetings of the Management Board are available to all members of EVEL.

The organisational work, running operations and everyday work of EVEL is controlled and managed by the Executive Director who proceeds from the Articles of Association of EVEL, the decisions of the General Meeting and the Management Board, and the development strategy. The Executive Director also organises collaboration with working groups and cooperation partners. To carry out the development strategy of EVEL, the team of the Executive Director must include at least three full-time employees: Executive Director, Administrative Assistant and Analyst-Consultant. Workforce for the execution of project-based and other short-term duties will be hired as needed.

By the order of the General Meeting, the Audit Committee executes supervision over other bodies of EVEL and reports to the General Meeting of EVEL.

VII    THE MONITORING OF THE STRATEGY AND THE ASSESSMENT OF RESULTS

The monitoring and efficiency of the strategy of EVEL is assessed by the Management Board once a year at the monitoring meeting.

The assessment will be based on a monitoring report completed by the Executive Director. Assessments and proposals made by the Management Board will be recorded in the field of comments of the monitoring report and taken into consideration when preparing plans of action for the following years.

The monitoring report will be sent to the members of EVEL and included in the agenda of the General Meeting following the monitoring meeting of the Management Board in order to give an assessment.

An assessment to the fulfilment of the strategic objectives named in this strategy document will be given by the General Meeting in the first half of 2017.

ANNEXES

Financial forecast for 2011-2015

Plans of action

Matrices for the monitoring of the strategy