United Utilities has said a workforce management system, based on SAP and IBM software, is on target to deliver £7 million in annual operational cost cuts from 2010.

The platform was helping the water, gas and electricity provider to more successfully manage its remote workforce, schedule jobs for engineers, and cut call-out times on each maintenance job, it said. United Utilities added that the £30 million system was implemented last year on time and “below budget”.

“This integrated system is a key initiative in increasing productivity by using real time data across the workforce to enable more effective work scheduling,” it told investors in a financial statement. “The system is now delivering efficiency benefits, coupled with improvements in operational performance.”

The software was also enabling United Utilities to update work status in real time, produce daily water leakage reports, and halve the time it needs to resolve poor water supply issues. Further benefits could take annual cost savings to £9 million, it said, but it did not detail what that would entail.

A separate SAP-based supply chain management programme was successfully centralised and “is delivering procurement economies”, it added.

The cost control initiatives, which also include a performance and asset management project, had “largely mitigated” a number of increases in power costs, bad debts and property rates, it said. Profits for the six months to 30 September rose one percent to £370 million, aided primarily by the industry regulator allowing utilities to raise the prices they charge.

Chief executive Philip Green insisted that improving United Utilities’ operational performance remained “high on our agenda”.