After months of discussion, meetings, and committee hours, the Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have adopted a new strategic vision and plan for the future of the organization. The PUD powers the majority of Grays Harbor County and even stretches a bit beyond into surrounding counties.
The service is essential in this era where we all rely on electricity to heat homes, cook food and power many digital devices. The PUD Commissioners and leadership decided to put a strategic plan into place in order to better serve these many needs while also opening up communication in order to be a better community member in and of itself.
“This is not the vision of one person or one department, but of the entire PUD,” said General Manager Dave Ward. The new Strategic Plan covers all the bases of the organization. The plan came together after a great deal of input from employees, customers and elected officials with constant attention to the experience of the customer. Even their basic mission was revised, now stating that they will “Serve our customers with high value utility services at the lowest practical cost.”
During the course of study and preparing for the ultimate launch of the plan, the organization focused on six main areas where committees were established and goals were created.
The top focus of the new Strategic Plan is on the customer. Their goals include creating better connections through improved customer service skills, interior design changes, safety education and youth outreach. Customers will be invited to provide feedback as changes evolve and will soon see improvements to the District’s website, annual report and social media presence.
Finance is the second focus point where the PUD plans to make improvements toward increased efficiency and fiscal responsibility. The Finance Committee is steadily working on cost-of-service studies in order to improve the stability of local electricity rates while also enabling the organization to meet their budget and credit rating goals.
The PUD is also extremely committed to safety and reliability of service and plans to make moves toward building a culture of compliance in their processes. This action will ensure accuracy as well as develop a safety program and create new requirements for clothing and tools to build a safer work environment. In Grays Harbor, where strong winter storms and large trees intermingle, the PUD is updating their Emergency Response Plan with plans for an annual review and precautionary work in order to avoid issues that have affected the community in the past.
Nearly the entirety of the Strategic Plan relies on the PUD employees, so they have been pinpointed as a focus area for the organization moving forward. Each employee impacts all areas of the business and they are the face of the service the PUD provides. In order to retain their excellent employees and improve leadership, the management of the PUD is committed to developing a program for cross-training employees and building better accountability and pride in each employee in the organization.
A fifth focus is to develop a structure to continuously evaluate and improve its processes, performance and consistency through communication, collaboration and documentation. As technology changes the landscape of the service industry, the PUD is committed to making changes along with it, but rather than making blind changes to keep up with trends, they are painstakingly trying to gain valuable knowledge of the “why” and “how” customers interact with technology and what they really need. The ultimate goal of efficiency will lead them to make improvements to internal and external technology platforms as time moves on.
Last, but not least, the PUD is committed to stewardship within the organization and will focus on being a conscientious steward of property and financial resources while also remaining in compliance with state and federal environmental standards. The organization has set forth goals to take care of obligations and regulatory requirements and create opportunities for better asset management and facilities plans in the future.
Overall, the commissioners and committee leads were very proud of the work accomplished over the past months in preparation for the new strategic plan. Each lead had positive remarks regarding their committee involvement and passion for the work they do. At a planning session, the word “impressive” kept recurring when each person reflected on the experience of creating the plan.
“It’s a big moment and one that was achieved by tapping the minds of our employees,” said Commission President Russ Skolrood. “For the first time, the people that work at the Grays Harbor PUD were asked to be involved in the creation of that vision. That is significant,” he continued.
The elected officials, staff, management and community came together with a focus on the future to make the necessary changes for progress. Everyone felt empowered by the opportunity and all show their excitement to be a part of the future of the PUD.