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San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Utility Case: Business Process Management and Workflow Solution Implementation
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Utility Case Results

EPC functionality allowed SFPUC to:

Map with BPMN

Map processes graphically in the easily understood Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN).


Comprehensively document end-to-end processes, capturing critical job knowledge.

Document Organization

View process related documents, resources, assets, risks, controls, and all process touch points.

Conduct Planning

Conduct resource capacity planning, activity based costing, bottleneck identification and critical path analysis.

Automate Tasks

Automate selected human-centric tasks using web forms and Adobe PDF eforms.

Service Oriented Architecture

Automate tasks and execute SOA business and agile development strategies by aligning process workflow and integrate with existing systems.

Adaptability & Flexibility

Adapt process instances on-the-fly as well as create ad hoc process execution (rewind, skip steps, etc.) for complete flexibility.

Monitor Performance

Track & monitor processes performance via the integrated OEM Cognos BI module.

+ Years of Experience

Distinct Services

Million Customers

+ Employees

Company & Utility Case Overview

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is a department of the City and County of San Francisco that provides water, wastewater, and municipal power services to San Francisco. The SFPUC has over 2000 employees and provides four distinct services: regional water, local water, wastewater (collection, treatment and disposal), and power to 2.4 million customers. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission faced two great challenges in maintaining their high level of operational competency. Their first challenge, stemming from baby boomers retiring, was knowledge capture, knowledge management, and knowledge transfer. Secondly, the SFPUC encountered a reliability and accountability issue via the incorporation of a vast number of new generation utility workers in a short period of time.

The SFPUC implemented a business process management and workflow solution (Interfacing Enterprise Process Center® – EPC) to manage knowledge retention issues and establish new ways “to share information and collaborate across the organizations”. To start, the SFPUC mapped out its processes with associated step-by-step procedures and made this accessible for employees. Additionally, SFPUC launched an extensive analysis of roles and responsibilities across departments in order to distribute process ownership and assign clear task accountability. Supported by a holistic perspective of the organization and a visual representation of tasks, utility workers improved their sense of ownership and readiness, which in turn enabled the SFPUC to extend its accountability beyond its organizations to reach end users.

The retirement of a significant portion of the workforce also created an opportunity to increase SFPUC overall process productivity and adopt latest technologies. Leveraging the EPC workflow engine, SFPUC was able to replace several human centric manual tasks with automated services and monitor the performance of these processes over time. The analytical data collected provides management with the business intelligence to uncover inefficiencies and strive to achieve a continuous process improvement culture within SFPUC.

Business Innovations

The SFPUC felt a need to shift from traditional practices of knowledge capture to methods to improve SFPUC accountability and productivity. The SFPUC implemented an ambitious business process management and workflow solution to address its knowledge issues and correct process inefficiencies across the organization.

The SFPUC provides many services to many customers, with a complex net of processes and procedures with different schedules across departments. The business process management approach facilitated the identification of work crossovers by mapping processes and increased visibility between departments and transform processes and procedures to a holistic framework.

The SFPUC needed to maximize its resources to cope with the knowledge challenge and enhance the quality of its overall services. The SFPUC achieved a great leap towards its competitive advantage by incorporating technology to fill the gaps and by correcting inefficient handovers of work.

Process Innovations

SFPUC turned to business process management software to unite people, processes, and technology. The work order flow of the SFPUC’s wastewater enterprise, as mapped using a BPM tool, provided step-by-step manual linking instructions on how to complete each task with the documents used to complete the task.

Beyond knowledge management, a key driver for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission BPM program was to minimize/remove tasks that were the source of employees’ discontent. The intent of this strategy was twofold; decrease the turn-over rate of new employees entering SFPUC, and secondly, increasing the likelihood of the current workforce electing to delay their retirement.

Leveraging EPC workflow, the SFPUC reduced time and costs associated with a processes’ development and implementation.

Competitive Advantages

The changes that the SFPUC carried out across its organizations gave it a competitive edge over other government organizations and over those in the private sector, situating the SFPUC as an industry benchmark. The SFPUC was invited by the Water Environment Federation to share their successful business improvement program at the 2009 Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in Orlando, FL. With the presentation entitled, “Tackling the Exodus of Knowledge as Utilities’ Workforce Exits the Labor Market.” The presentation outlined change efforts that are being implemented by Wastewater Enterprise.

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