Thames Water has signed a deal with procurement firm Efficio to manage £2.5 billion of goods and services buying over five years, as it invests heavily in IT and processes.

The deal will also cover contract management, and performance management in the water utility’s buying.

Work will begin from 6 April, and will address everything from office equipment to water pipes, and services. Efficio was appointed following a nine month tendering process.

Efficio had previously led an 18-month procurement transformation project at Thames Water, aimed at improving efficiency and cutting capital and operational expenditure.

Ian Bolger, head of the supply chain at the utility, said: “Thames Water is really committed to creating a ‘Rolls Royce’ procurement capability to provide outstanding procurement services to our internal customers.”

Under the deal, existing Thames Water procurement staff will transfer to Efficio and create a new on-site team.

Thames Water described the contract signing as “important” to its “challenging” current business plan over the 2010 to 2015 period.

Under the plan, Thames Water is investing nearly £5 billion on work to improve ageing water pipes, sewers and other facilities, and installing new real time monitoring systems and improving customer relationship management.

Thames Water is currently working to improve its website, including adding a new tool to show people how much water they use in their day-to-day activities, as well as an interactive map indicating the location of emergency incidents and planned work. It is also attempting to improve how it updates customers on maintenance work.

The utility is also introducing new processes to better manage maintenance work from scheduling to completion.

It is installing real time performance monitoring technology at many of its sites, with the aim of gaining early notification and quicker response when mains burst or when there are issues at a treatment works.

Additionally, it has trialled ‘sub metering’ technology at three treatment works, allowing it to measure the specific energy consumption of individual processes at each site, highlighting those areas that are using more power than expected.