Your industry news - first Number 1 for Recruitment
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Your business is unique so why isn't your FM?
asks Martyn Freeman, managing director of MITIE Facilities Management...
"There has been a lot of talk in the industry recently about the need for more effective tailoring of service contracts to match the specific needs of different businesses. As an organisation we always set out to make sure that we get the best value when procuring goods and services, which is right and proper.
However, I have noticed that the downside of trying to create a one-size-fits-all approach to procurement, which we see regularly in invitations to tender, is that there is a tendency towards commoditisation.
It is fair to say, for example, that cleaning or providing environmental and security services to one 30,000 sq. ft. office block, should, on the face of it call for same skills operational management as another similar building. However, what if one block is occupied by a company trading exclusively in the UK, and the other by an International bank?
Call centres largely operate between the hours of 08:00. and 18:00. By contrast many international banks operate an agile work strategy that means very flexible occupancy levels throughout their working day, which can run from 06:00 to midnight.
Clearly those two apparently identical buildings have wholly different needs in terms of their workplace support. Yet we regularly receive invitations to tender that set key performance indicators based on the size of the premises rather than the way they are used.
The situation becomes even more complex when you look at different kinds of working environments. For example, the needs of a factory, an airport, a train maintenance depot, a nuclear power station or a hospital are all very obviously different, not because of the bricks and mortar, but because of the way the premises are used.
Time for change?
During 2014 I met with a wide range of property and facilities directors and the discussion frequently turned to the subject of how the facilities industry needs to evolve its service offer in order to be able to match the changing patterns of work, workplace, and social interaction.
I am beginning to suspect that the year ahead could provide the tipping point for our industry, as there has been a growing realisation in the last couple of years that the existing procurement model is no longer delivering services that businesses need, and something needs to be done.
So what would a new procurement model involve? The ever-closer integration of a full range of workplace services that we are seeing across many of our clients brings with it a requirement for a more comprehensive and integrated suite of support services. It also calls for service delivery to be tailored much more effectively to match the changing needs of the workplace.
So while it is easy to look at the way a factory needs different services from an office building, we are also going to see a greater need for contracts to reflect much more closely the ebb and flow of occupancy within similar types of building. I also believe that at the same time we should be taking a long hard look at the way we measure outcomes.
During 2014 we touched on the subject of KPIs in many meetings. One of our clients would actually like to do away with them altogether, and focus instead on measuring outcomes, including how highly their staff would recommend the services they receive.
That's really Blue Sky thinking. Although it would make the procurement process much more complex, which runs counter to the trend for commoditisation that currently prevails within that Industry, I think it would be a massively valuable way to refocus the industry's whole approach to contracts.
I expect that this year the pressure on companies not just to achieve the least cost, but best value, will see a greater requirement for all suppliers to take the same approach."
29th January 2015