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20 March 2019
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The partnering approach

Simon Francis
Simon Francis

05 April 2018 Simon Francis

Simon Francis, head of estates services at London South Bank University, explains how collaboration is key to contract success post Carillion.

With the demise of Carillion and the political focus on the rights and wherefores of the outsourcing model that in one way or another affects the FM industry, we’ve been reminded of how intertwined we are with our service partners at London South Bank University (LSBU). With a mixed economy of in-house and outsourced services and a variety of different contracting methods, we’ve seen the pros and cons of each approach over the years.

In my experience, the key factor in the success of some of our contracts (and what has been missing in ones that have not been as successful) is the commitment to true collaboration and shared success. With the relentless race to the bottom through cuts and aggressive ‘efficiency savings’ across the public sector, which impacted Carillion, the move to an adversarial, axe-swinging approach seems to have moved the industry away from the partnering approach.

While we have not been immune from the tightening of belts across the sector at LSBU, our focus has been to work collaboratively with our partners to identify savings, working in an open book manner to ensure that any savings can be made with our partners retaining a reasonable profit. It would be short-termism of the worst kind if we made the savings we require at the expense of their profitability. 

While we like to think we work collaboratively with service partners in our FM operations, we are only at the beginning of our journey to true collaboration in our asset management and estate development activities. I am particularly interested in BIM and the opportunities it brings for FM. But the industry still seems slow to adop BIM, which I find frustrating. Now, I have decided to investigate this subject in my dissertation for the part-time real estate MSc I am studying at LSBU. I will be compiling a survey to identify why the FM industry is late to the party. If you can contribute, a link to the survey will be available on my LinkedIn profile.

Simon Francis is head of estates services at London South Bank University