WISE Focus Group

Managing a utility is a complex challenge that benefits from a methodology based on systems thinking. WISE (Water Intrapreneurship for Strategic Enterprises) is a WEF Utility Management Community Focus Group program to improve utility management.

The methodology starts with assessments based on maturity models and includes specific steps for improvement that include change management and learning. This program includes active engagement, collaboration, and sharing by the participating utilities. It enables these utilities to achieve performance goals with repeatable, common-sense techniques tailored to the water sector.

A "WISE" organization has the capability to:

  • Define its purpose and values, adaptable to changing society or environment requirements.
  • Discern how value is created and how it impacts external entities.
  • Decide based on knowledge acquisition and continuous information collection and analysis
  • Deploy methods for effective learning and change that include consider all aspects of utility management including the value system.

The following FAQ section can be found below, answering the most asked questions about WISE. 

Interested in becoming a WEF WISE Utility?

Please join the WISE Focus Group on https://www.wef.org/wise. If you are already a WEF WISE Focus Group member and need assistance, please contact WISE@wef.org.


Below is a list of the most common questions related to the WISE program.

1. What is the history of the program?

The first UAIM workshop was held at the 2017 Utility Management Conference. During the first two years of the project (2017 – 2019), the focus was on documenting different business processes in a consistent format (BPMN 2.0).  Several business process models were developed independently by different utilities and posted to the Water Sector Value Model. In 2019, the project was extended by two years under the sponsorship of WRF. During this two-year period, the scope of the project was split into two “tracks”: utilities continued with independent business process modeling in Track 1, and Track 2 included collaborative work on topics of common interest: Developing Asset Management Plans, CIP Planning, CIP Delivery, and Enterprise Risk Management. During the last year (2020 – 2021), three additional topics were added to Track 2: Workforce, Organizational Culture, and Change Management.

2. How does WISE work?

Utilities engaged in WEF WISE have historically and continue to:

  • Document their processes and share at their discretion with other WISE utilities. 
  • Exchange information about their processes, metrics, and improvements
  • Collaborate on developing recommended processes and practices for business areas of the greatest priority/interest

3. How much does it cost to participate?

The WEF WISE Focus Group is part of the Utility Management Community.  In order to participate interested users must be WEF members.

4. What are the required qualifications to join the program?

There are no formal requirements or qualifications. 

5. What is the level of participation required?

There are no formal requirements on the level of engagement for participating Focus Group members. Each member will design their engagement levels in different initiatives based on their own priorities and needs. However, with an active engagement a utility will maximize the most important benefits of this effort including development of best practices and peer to peer collaboration on initiatives. 

6. Are there any development opportunities for participants?

The peer-to-peer collaboration among participating utilities offers numerous opportunities for development. On any of the initiatives, the participants may include people that are on executive level, upper management, and both senior and junior staff members. A young professional who participates in an initiative will be at the table with more seasoned professionals – and mentor/mentee relationships would emerge naturally and organically through collaboration and engagement. Each of the initiatives has a Lead from a participating utility, ensuring that the research is always focused on real and relevant topics and that it produces actionable deliverables of practical value. UAIM participants have always been featured as main speakers in UAIM sessions at conferences (UMC, WEFTEC) and this tradition will continue under the WISE Focus Group. 

7. How many meetings and events will there be for the program?

Each initiative team typically meets biweekly. Meetings will likely be held at the Utility Management Conference and at WEFTEC.

8. What are specific benefits that can be realized for my utility?

The WISE Focus Group benefits utility participants through collaboration with utility peers, understanding a common methodology for business process documentation, efficiencies achieved through streamlining of business processes, discovery of leading practice for each topic area, use of a common portal that includes contributed artifacts, and flexibility in the extent of participation by members.

Additional Information

For additional information on the WEF WISE Focus Group, please contact WISE@wef.org. 

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