Centrica has signed an £8 million offshore managed testing contract with SQS.

The utility has tasked SQS to "raise quality and reduce risk" within its business critical systems, such as its smart metering programme, said SQS.

The Centrica smart metering technology is designed to be installed in over two million homes with British Gas accounts by the end of 2012.

The SQS contract, which commences immediately, is worth £8 million over 12 months and will involve SQS providing end-to-end testing. On-shore and offshore testing will be provided by SQS.

Centrica already used SQS for testing on a project by project basis, but the 12 month managed services deal provides a longer commitment to the supplier.

David Cotterell, SQS board director, said: "Centrica is demonstrating the high value it places on partnering with a pure play, independent testing provider with a proven on and offshore presence."

Earlier this week, Centrica announced it had signed a five year managed desktop services deal with Fujitsu.

The deal, which covers 25,000 IT users at the utility, expands a service desk agreement signed with Fujitsu last year.