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A crash course into AMP7Water
– but with some important lessons for the future
At the start of April, Clancy started a new chapter in our long-term partnership with South East Water. As a business, we’ve clocked up eighteen years working together to maintain and build resilience in the network serving 2.2 million customers across the region.
But as we were gearing up for the start of AMP7, little did we know how dramatically our partnership and our industry was to be put through its paces.
The advantage of long-term frameworks that we hold in the water sector is stability, enabling both sides to invest in long term improvements and innovation. What we’ve also seen in the last few weeks however is how the collaborative attitudes these frameworks foster are vital when a quick response is needed.
Since late March our team has been flat-out keeping networks running, so that the rest of the country can adapt to new patterns of working. Good weather and a shift to home working has upped the pressure – quite literally – on water networks in residential areas. In the last month this has seen us respond to 25% more leaks. Flexibility in how we work, and how we work with our customers has been essential to keeping the water flowing.
Lessons for the future
The need for rapid change has led to a thousand small innovations across the South East Framework. As we look ahead through the new AMP, there are already some important lessons on how we can start to think and work differently.
The first is about how we work as teams, and that shaking up our personal schedules is good for decision making. Face to face meetings are essential for building strong relationships, but greater flexibility in how and when we do those meetings is bringing quick rewards. Now, if we need to make a decision we can get the team on a Teams / Zoom call within minutes to meet, identify the issue, talk through options and act on something that in an office environment could have taken weeks to agree – often for no reason other than getting diaries to match up.
The second is to trust the experts. One of the most obvious things to me from the last few weeks is the extent to which our team and our clients’ teams really know their stuff – from pinch points in the network, to how workloads are delegated – and therefore how they can be adapted. This kind of knowledge is absolutely invaluable in a crisis.
At the same time remote tools allow that expertise to be available without always being on site. Having been forced through social distancing to move away from whole team briefings and depot-focused management, simple tools like WhatsApp – which our teams use all the time in their personal lives – are making coordination from anything from simple logistics to safety that bit more direct.
But above all, what we’ve been reminded of through this crisis is the absolute importance of the work our teams do. Construction and utilities are not always seen as glamorous careers, but the notion of #keyworkers across the UK has never been more needed, recognised and valued as it is right now. We need to keep promoting that message throughout this new AMP to make sure we continue to attract fresh talent into the industry and give our expert, dedicated teams the recognition they deserve.
Richard Flintham, Associate Director