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20 March 2019
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History today

One of London’s most historic building complexes is adopting a thoroughly modern approach to the procurement and organisation of its FM.

Guildhall 1

8 April 2013

Athletes aside, there’s an argument to be made that London 2012’s many venues were the real stars of the Olympic Games.

From the Olympic Park to Wimbledon, Hampton Court to Greenwich Park, the capital’s iconic architecture provided
a stunning backdrop to the sporting action. However, perhaps not every venue used in that glorious summer of sport got the full publicity it deserved.

The Guildhall, administrative home of the historic City of London Corporation (CoL), had the marathon route running through its yard and the venue also served as the starting point for the post-games parade.

For Stephen Bursi, Guildhall manager in charge of FM across the Guildhall estate, the gold, silver and bronze draped around the various Olympians and Paralympians made for quite a sight: “All you could hear was the clanking of medals.”

Despite requiring a sizeable DDA exercise, for Bursi and his team the Olympic and Paralympic Games was a fantastic one-off event. Of longer-lasting relevance is the ongoing campaign to introduce more centralised procurement and management of FM services across the Guildhall complex.

The CoL is its own local authority, providing local services for residents of the Square Mile and all the other local government services required to support the City as the leading international financial centre. The corporation owns and manages a number of open spaces (including Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath), as well as markets such as Billingsgate. It’s also the square mile’s policing body.

The Guildhall has served as the home of the City’s administration for centuries. The name Guildhall is often used to describe the Great Hall alone, but it also describes the complex that comprises both the main hall and the many offices and courts that surround it.

It’s a mix of architecture spanning hundreds of years, some of which is listed. It has extensive office space, facilities to support the activities of the corporation’s members, a public art gallery housing and displaying the corporation’s private art collections, a reference and business library, staff facilities and events spaces with catering facilities.

The CoL has approximately 3,500 employees, of which 1,200 are located at Guildhall – a number soon to increase by an additional 250 following building and office moves resulting from Guildhall accommodation and City Police property reviews.

The FM service is undergoing significant change across the CoL, the result of a strategic review of procurement. The corporation’s ‘Procurement and Procure to Pay Project (PP2P)’ aims to introduce modern procurement techniques, with the project targeting the procurement of soft and hard FM, IT, HR, construction and highways.

Currently, management of FM is fragmented across departments within the corporation. There are individual FM teams at the Guildhall, Barbican Centre and some other key buildings such as Mansion House (official residence of the Lord Mayor) and the Central Criminal Courts (Old Bailey).

A separate team supports the corporation’s investment property portfolio, which currently comprises 80 buildings (FM World wrote about this in our 11 May 2011 edition). Changes, including the PP2P project, will result in the City Surveyors’ department becoming responsible for the direct management and delivery of FM across the CoL.

Guildhall 2
Floorspace of the Guildhall complex: 11,202 square metres (120,580 square feet)
Guildhall employees: 1,200, rising to 1,450 (Overall City of London organisation: 3,500)
In-House FM team: 90 staff providing manned guarding, plant & fabric maintenance, post room, events support, reception, administration, waste management

Outsourced services:
Building maintenance and repair – Mitie
Cleaning – Sodexo
Staff restaurant – ISS
Lift maintenance – Apex
Manned guarding (supplement) – Shield Guarding

Corps values
FM at the Guildhall is delivered by an in-house team and outsourced service providers. The in-house FM team consists of 90 staff providing manned guarding, plant and fabric maintenance, post room, events support, reception and administration.

Six years ago, several FM functions at the Guildhall were brought together from a number of service departments. Under the control of the city surveyor, a dedicated FM team was created with its own management structure – the team now managed by Stephen Bursi.

The profile and importance of FM has subsequently developed; building users now appreciate more of FM’s role in supporting departmental business plans, operational management of the Guildhall complex and performance target achievement.

The initial rationalisation project six years ago focused on cleaning and manned guarding. Previously, cleaning in particular was procured on an ad hoc basis, with different terms and conditions between contractors. Individual departments – and sometimes individual departments within buildings – did their own thing.

Historically, the various corporation sites have had their own management teams, with
FM managed and procured locally. The Barbican Centre, for example, has its own FM team, both for maintenance and running the day-to-day operation.

The new FM procurement initiatives are largely a result of the corporation’s need to save money. In 2011, a five-year programme of change, spearheaded through a partnership with business consultancy Accenture, was commenced. The programme is managed by the Chamberlain (essentially the corporation’s chief accountant) and his town clerks. The desire is that FM and property services will be delivered centrally, with procurement policy delivered centrally through the Chamberlains’ department.

According to Bursi, “they looked at HR and other services where labour is hired in, at how we procure IT, and then hard and soft FM.”
Guildhall 3

Adapting to change

The new procurement regime has been felt keenly, says Bursi. “The impact on the organisation, particularly in the City Surveyors’ department, which has become responsible for delivering and managing contracts, was probably underestimated.”

No new management has been brought in, so it’s been a case of realigning existing resources, says Bursi, involving a switch from managing a number of suppliers on an individual basis. “For instance, we had principal engineers and surveyors responsible for services such as lift maintenance, water hygiene and the like. By rationalising the supply chain to one supplier, in this case Mitie on building maintenance and Apex on lift maintenance, the people originally managing all the arrangements are now switching over to pure contract, service and compliance management.”

Bursi sees this as a significant shift, and explains that the City Surveyors’ department had to realign itself to deliver those contracts with Mitie and Apex, while also picking up the cleaning contracts and other services that were rationalised under this programme of change.

Underpinning this is a number of people carrying out FM roles who weren’t previously facilities managers by trade, but who are now adapting to contract management.

Says Bursi: “The procurement exercise is demonstrating what FM is and its importance. We have had people who are actually doing FM, but not 100 per cent of the time. But for the city surveyor’s department to deliver this new way of working is dependent on those people here and on other CoL sites becoming part of that FM delivery structure.

Bursi explains how many  different functions now seen as FM were previously carried out by a variety of departments. “It wasn’t joined up,” he remembers.

“The receptionist service was being delivered by public relations, manned guarding by
the department of technical services and the post room by the remembrancer’s department.”
(The City Remembrancer is the CoL’s ceremonial officer and chief of protocol).

Centralising all of this was a catalyst for Bursi’s appointment, tied at the time to a major office refurbishment project. “It was agreed that those functions should come together to begin to build this recognition of the FM service,” says Bursi.

While the project to centralise procurement of service contracts continues, the Guildhall team is also adapting to an increase in the number of events held in the historic Great Hall and elsewhere across the complex, the result of the Guildhall’s commercial department marketing the complex to a wider audience.

“Over the past few years, the importance of FM and the team’s contribution to the running of this complex has been recognised much more than before,” says Bursi. “And that’s because we’ve been able to allow the complex to be used as it is intended, while also trying to ensure that all planned activities can actually happen.”

In some cases, the team has had to reject a request, but where possible, it has worked with stakeholders to ensure any overlapping events can still happen.

In any one week, there can be plenty of events. In the week after our visit, Guildhall was preparing the Great Hall to host elections for CoL councillors, the City Properties Association lunch and a London Fire Brigade salvage training exercise in the art gallery. “We’re in the middle of it all to make sure all those three activities and daily use can still happen,” says Bursi.

Bursi and his team have been helping to move 250 people out of the Guildhall’s East Wing building so that it can be let out (most probably to the CoL police). The 250 displaced workers will be absorbed elsewhere across the Guildhall complex, necessitating work that will see the re-fitting of corporate meeting rooms into training suites. Accommodating those additional 250 people will also be helped by new flexible working initiatives

At the Guildhall, a combination of transitioning to the new strategic FM procurement structure and dealing with an increased number of events will keep the FM team busy for some time ahead. And Bursi knows this is not a typical FM role. “Recently, we were looking out from this complex and wondering about our neighbours,” he muses. “You’ve got all these office blocks and you could argue that, in general, the FM function in all those corporate buildings will be similar, with an emphasis on resilience, IT, corporate hospitality, maintaining brand image, and so on.

“But then, imagine them looking over at us: I wonder what they think? We’re a mixture of buildings from different eras: a local authority, public gallery, reference library, clock maker’s museum. We have heritage preservation and maintenance responsibilities and there are always events going on.”

This, you suspect, only adds to the enjoyment of the role.