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increase in water bills


efficiency savings

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The challenge

Southern Water is responsible for providing water and sewerage services to more than 4.2 million homes and businesses across the South East. However, to ensure that everyone can always afford clean, safe water, it needed to be more efficient in reducing construction costs, improving customer service and carrying out more effective repair and maintenance works, for example to fix or prevent burst pipes. This will ensure that customers don’t experience any future increases in their water bills, while always maintaining the same clean, safe water supply we all need.

The solution

Arcadis was brought on board to transform Southern Water’s construction and maintenance supply chain, helping it to be more efficient in how it worked.


We started by carrying out a rapid review and analysis of Southern Water’s construction and maintenance supply chain programme of work. It became clear that improvements could be made by bundling packages of work for contractors, according to type, complexity, and geography. This meant that separate programmes of work could be aligned to achieve the best supply-chain arrangements and thereby be more efficient.


    We also collaboratively developed and implemented the procurement strategy with the Southern Water team for these separate work packages, as well as creating new commercial models to reduce costs. Finally, to enable new ways of working we jointly developed new processes – including a new Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) framework - that would help everyone to collaborate more easily. Working together in a better way helped to improve collective understanding and, when it came to major construction work, meant that design decisions could be made more quickly.


    In an innovative approach to help embed these new ways of working, we designed a board game called The Southern Water Way to capture the lessons that had been learnt. A series of quiz questions covered the new working arrangements, with players moving forward on the board only if their decisions demonstrated positive behaviours. The board game has been played by over 1,000 employees, from board room to front line, and has proved to be a positive way to bring new ways of working to life. It has allowed everyone – from client to contractor – to engage and connect with the transformation programme in a positive way.

The impact

In developing these ideas, we were able to draw on knowledge and experiences running transformation programmes with numerous other industries and utilities. By applying best practice learnings, we have helped Southern Water to achieve efficiencies of more than 20% across a multi-million pound programme.


This has been key to Southern Water realising its vision to ‘create a resilient water future for customers in the south east’, ensuring that vital, high quality water supplies remain affordable and accessible for all. As a result, the Management Consultancy Association (MCA) named Arcadis and Southern Water the winners in the Commercial Excellence category at the MCA Awards 2020 for this project.

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