Large business category





As a large UK provider of water and wastewater services, the company believes sustainability issues are at the core of its business to deliver positive outcomes to customers, shareholders, the environment, society, and regulators.


The company was a poor performer on most metrics from 2000 to 2010 and needed to turn the situation around. To do this, it needed to focus more on customers, deliver more effectively its capital programmes and run the network as a system rather than as a set of independent assets.


A strategic programme called Sustainable Business Performance Improvement has resulted in a large range of improvement initiatives. Recognising the scale of delivering the capital programmes required each year, the company devised a Time: Cost: Quality Index. With some 9,000 projects amounting to £3.5bn in capital expenditure across a five-year cycle, the company now achieves 95% on time, cost and quality − a huge improvement compared with around 50% previously. Integrated thinking has been embedded into the way it runs the business, for example with the formation of an Integrated Control Centre which optimises network performance daily. Sustainable business performance improvement and integrated thinking are embedded across the organisation.


Financial rigour has been the key in prioritising and delivering all the business initiatives. Quantifying the issues really helps − on customer satisfaction, capital delivery, financing performance, and broader sustainability, for example.

Judges’ comments

The CFO was at the heart of United Utilities’ approach to integrating sustainability and delivering performance improvements across the business, vital in a sector which is so reliant on natural and social capital. The judges were particularly impressed by the innovative Time: Cost: Quality Index which enabled senior management to track progress across over 9,000 projects and drive significant improvement in performance.