United Utilities has vowed to achieve annual cost savings of £7 million from an IBM and SAP-based workforce management system.

The system cost £30 million and will therefore pay for itself over the next four years, if the company’s savings expectations are correct.

It went live last November, and will play a key part in efficiency strategy, the company said in a statement. United Utilities posted an 11 per cent rise in profits for the 2008 financial year to £530 million, and said the savings from the new system would start to be noticed from next year.

The company is “encouraged by the early progress of our workforce management project which has been successfully implemented on time and below budget”, it said. “This integrated system is a key initiative in increasing productivity by using real time data across the workforce to enable more effective work scheduling.”

Chief executive Philip Green said the new system had helped United Utilities meet its leakage target, by processing orders for repairs more quickly. “It is not often, in my experience, that any company launches a major initiative of this scale on time and to budget” he said.

United Utilities is also carrying out a performance management project, to help with remote site management. The company also has a real time leak reporting system from supplier eSay Mobile.

In addition, an SAP-based supply chain management programme is underway. This “has been centralised and is delivering procurement economies”, the company said.