Positioning Mhlathuze water as a service provider for Usuthu-Mhlathuze catchment management policy.
1. BACKGROUND Mhlathuze Water (MW) is a public sector water utility created in terms of Water Act 54 of 1954, MW has legislative mandate to provide support services to DWAF and other government institutions such as municipalities and Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs). The objective of the CMA is to manage and coordinate water resources management functions at local level. This includes the power to manage, monitor, conserve and protect water resources and to implement catchment management strategies (NWA, 1998). Because of shortage of water resources specialist skills such as water resources monitoring, water resources assessment, flood prevention, and resource protection to mention few, the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA will have to outsource some of the specialist functions to private and public institutions like Mhlathuze Water on a competitive basis (DWAF, 2003). 2. PURPOSE The primary purpose of the dissertation is to analyze and understand the needs of the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA as well as MW's competencies so as to develop positioning strategy for MW. To achieve the primary purpose of the dissertation the following research objectives have been identified: • Identification of the needs of the target CMA. • Identification ofMW's strengths and weaknesses to see ifMW can satisfy the needs of the target CMA. • Analysis of competitors' strengths and weaknesses to measure MW against competitors. The three analyses will provide a base essential for developing and recommending a positioning strategy to MW. 3. METHODOLOGY The customer needs analysis information of the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA was mainly sourced from the following documents: • Usuthu-Mhlathuze Situation assessment (Appendix 1). • Proposal to establish the Usuthu-Mhlathuze CMA (Appendix 2). • Legal review on CMAs (Appendix 3). • Australian documentation on catchment management institutions (Appendix 4). For the competitor analysis, a profile of most organizations m the water sector operating in the area of the CMA was sourced from MW's consultants panel for various disciplines (Appendix 5). The internal analysis was compiled using information from reports produced by MW in the last five years and was also informed MW's participation in various studies and projects in the catchment management area (Appendix 6). Strategic employees from various MW's departments were contacted with the view of authenticating the analysis findings. 4. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION A number of areas of need for the imminent Usuthu to Mhlathuze CMA were identified. These included water quality management, flood management, construction and operation of waterworks, monitoring the performance of water users, monitoring the condition of water resources, alien vegetation management, education on water resource management, promotion of community participation, ensuring access to information regarding water resource management, development of a Catchment Management Strategy, provision of water to meet environmental needs, ensuring sustainable water sharing and efficient water use, and pursuing opportunities for productive use of alternative the water source. The competitor analysis (Appendix 7) provided the strengths and weaknesses of competitors likely to target the CMA as service providers. The likely major competitors of MW are: Scott Wilson, BKS, Jeffares and Green Consulting Engineers, Water Resource Planning and Conservation Consulting Engineers and Ninham Shand Consulting Engineers. Scott Wilson and DMM partnership have major strengths that MW would need to be aware of in developing a positioning strategy. The other competitors do not offer a suite of water resource management service. They are therefore not expected to be MW's major rivalries. 5. RECCOMENDATIONS MW should position itself as the low cost service provider because the imminent CMA will be very price sensitive. Apart from positioning itself as a low cost provider, MW should also position itself as a deliver good quality services. MW's strengths in terms of experience, expertise, knowledge and understating of the water resource dynamics demonstrate that MW can safely position itself as a deliver good quality services. MW is the only water resources management services provider that provides a suite of water resources management functions (Table 5.1, p. 49). The organization is also the only service provider that acts as an implementing agent that already provides water resource management services for DWAF (de facto CMA). Based on this, and the fact that MW is well known (DWAF, 2003), it is appropriate for MW to also position itself as leader in water resources management in the CMA area of operation (Thompson and Strickland, 2003). The most appropriate promotional tool that will solicit immediate response and cultivate lasting customer relationship for MW is direct marketing (Kotler, 2000). This means that MW must package their service offerings and go and sell them directly to the de fact CMA and later to the CMA. The benefits of using this tool is that the message will be specifically directed to the prospect specifically prepared to appeal to CMA and can be immediately changed depending on the response (Kotler, 2000).