Systematic data collection and analysis
Company screening is the first step in identifying companies that are facing a challenge in properly managing their water consumption, distribution, and/or wastewater management. The purpose of the screening process is to collect and analyse water specific data to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at hand, and to identify the highest potential companies for which additional technical assessments will be performed. In this phase, some of the information collected, such as daily water consumption, water costs, wastewater treatment challenges, and previous water audits/assessments, is filtered and analysed using basic analytical steps.
Why should you care
When done right, the company screening process allows you to shortlist the potential companies that are best suited for the successful implementation of your project.
Key lessons learned with recommendations
Use a lean data collection approach
At the beginning of the Water Action in Enterprises (WAIN) project, primary data was collected from over 280 Jordanian companies from various sources to ensure that companies from five sub-sectors, namely food industries, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and packaging, were covered. A thorough analysis of such a large number of companies was not feasible within the timeframe of the project. Therefore, a lean approach was used to narrow down the best profiles, taking into account a few parameters such as total water consumption, previous water audits, previous water efficiency measures undertaken, and others. Consider and decide which data has real value to the desired intervention. Ask the right questions and collect data that you really need without overlooking information that can be essential for the business case. Discuss with your team what you observed, especially during the first visit, and what significance this might have for the selection of a company or for the progress of the project. Use existing databases or recommendations from partners and consult supervisory bodies (such as chambers of industries or associations) for their opinion on which companies to start with and which to avoid. A company data sheet is a useful tool to capture the primary information for each company and a useful tool when meeting with companies to avoid missing any critical information.
Sign non-disclosure agreements
Especially for large companies, production or resource utilization data might involve confidential information that can cause hesitation to share such data. Offering to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) as soon as you feel the company is hesitant can ease the tension and show your commitment and transparency. Emphasizing your neutrality and detailing your intentions and the results you want to achieve will also help build bilateral trust and establish open communication. Sending a follow-up email after each meeting with the company summarizing what was discussed and what next steps were agreed upon is another critical step in maintaining the trust with the companies. If a company is not selected for further cooperation, explain to them politely and gratefully the reasons over phone or as email and thank them for their time.
Consider companies’ experiences with previous projects
In certain situations, selected companies may refuse to work with you because of unproductive past experiences or poorly communicated activities on other projects. You need to ensure that you clearly communicate the value of your project and its benefits for the potential companies early on. You need to ensure that the companies understand the assessment process, the outputs of each phase and the role of each party. Always focus on the end goal and the benefits of applying water efficiency measures.
Secure key company staff involvement
It is sometimes difficult for companies to determine which staff should be involved in water efficiency assessment, especially in companies where responsibility for resource efficiency is not clearly assigned. Always ask for the person who can clearly identify and provide the data you need for your project. Also, involve senior management from the beginning to ensure a smooth exchange of information and commitment to the project.
While the first meeting is usually held with the facility’s top management, operations and maintenance managers are needed for data collection and process analysis. In some companies, operators also need to be involved as they have direct responsibilities for water efficiency and operation of water equipment.