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16 January 2019
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Brand ambassadors

15 October 2012

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Developing a one-team approach

Tony Sanders, managing director – commercial, Interserve

The research we conducted with Sheffield Hallam University looked at what drives the outsourcing decisions of participants.

Finance, service and technical knowledge are high on the list, but areas such as risk management, technical knowledge and freeing-up time to focus on core business are actually where businesses are seeing the benefits of outsourcing.

However, the biggest gap between expectation and delivery was between financial savings and service-level improvement.

In a roundtable discussion organised with FM World in June, we looked at the issue of service improvement and what drives FM as the face of your brand. A view that was strongly expressed at the time was that there was maybe not enough discussion about the impact
FM providers can have on our customer’s brands – this issue isn’t being talked about at the procurement stage.

Yet as the FM provider, our contact with the client is through every person in every location, every day. This can be expressed in four ‘zones’ – arrival, visitor experience, employee and back office.

Brand values vary depending on the context. The satisfaction of visitors with the facilities is a key touch-point, but how employees are treated can also impact on how the brand is perceived, as much as ensuring compliance.

The key thing is that it’s one team working together for all customers.

Realising the limitations

Dave Wilson, director, Agents4RM

It’s important not to confuse logos with brand values. FM can have an impact on brand, but only in certain circumstances: in a space where the organisation has sole control; for consumers, in a retail context (and not usually elsewhere); for investors (at head office); and for employees, suppliers, clients – everywhere they come into contact with the organisation.

You have to know the boundaries. Buildings and services can represent brand values extremely well, but organisations need to see that they cannot outsource their own brand promise.
I would argue that FM providers cannot critically affect the brand – all they can do is help support delivery of brand values.

What FM procurement must do is express brand values clearly in their tender documentation. This can be really difficult to do. You have to express the behaviours that are consistent with those brands, which is also hard. Then you have to explain the outcomes that flow from those behaviours.

So, we’re not just talking output from services now, we’re talking about specific outcomes that are quite intangible and difficult to measure. That’s not how most buyers draft specifications. We get what’s easier to express, what’s possible to achieve.

These tend to be relatively superficial things, such as badges and uniforms, ‘one team’ training for facilities staff, highly bespoke services (often with overstated requirements, simply to distinguish the service), lots of prescriptive injunctions on how to deliver, requirements for consistency of delivery and performance, and standardised procedures – even where the client estate and function is highly variable.

These are not the same as the brand promise. When writing specifications it’s quite easy to go down the prescriptive path in an attempt to protect the brand, One key point is that you must procure a partner, not a supplier – you need to work with people whose culture aligns with yours.

Devising a supplier ecosystem

Nick Caton, EMEA lead (FM and energy procurement), AstraZeneca

I’m leading from a procurement angle as part of a cross-functional team on a project to transform the way AstraZeneca manages FM. The FM operation at AstraZeneca supports 40,000 occupants in 2.8 million square metres (30 million square feet) of real estate across our main operations in North America, the UK, Sweden and China. We have more than 35 service lines, from catering and cleaning through to manned guarding and energy, to laboratory support and space optimisation.

We maintain the labs and the equipment, run lab services and work on space optimisation in partnership with our CRE colleagues.

We aim to have 90 per cent of FM services carried out by contractors. With so much responsibility handed over to third parties, evolving the buyer/supplier relationship is key. As a result, we’ve held a number of supplier engagement events where we have presented problems to potential suppliers and asked them to help develop solutions, rather than just offer prescriptive contracts.

In EMEA, we devised ‘Project Star’, which involved nine work streams (occupational health, catering, cleaning, building maintenance and more) resulting in the outsourcing of 400
full-time employees and associated supplier relationships.

We have developed, with our suppliers, a supplier ‘ecosystem’ that formalises partnership agreements between our key suppliers. We’re changing the mind-set of the business to be
a single FM organisation and everything we do has to lead to supplier success.

This more collaborative approach is intended to foster an ‘emotional contract’ to accompany the factual one. The internal team will then take on a role of governance and oversight, rather than managing the operations itself.

We’ve been looking to formally document how those supplier ecosystem partners work together. The idea is that instead of retained organisations of 150, we’re actually one organisation – there is no ‘us and them’.

Part of this structure is a reward system for ‘good behaviours’ – if such behaviours are observed, the supplier involved is rewarded financially, but can also then use AstraZeneca as a reference and show this to prospective clients.

We’re now on track for a $20 million (£12.5 million) reduction.

Using standards to define relationships

Brian Atkin, director, The Facilities Society

BS8572 has been developed to allow for a more considered approach to the procurement of FM. It’s aimed primarily at client organisations and seeks to drive a more innovative and competitive approach to the process.

The standard helps a client organisation to develop a strategy that includes a flexible framework for accommodating change.

The standard is not just about procedures – it’s about explaining why things should be done in a particular way. It doesn’t prescribe, rather it guides people towards what they should be taking into account.

For clients, owners and FMs who are looking to define their FM procurement process for the first time, BS8572 provides guidance, recommendations and support. For those with experience, here is both a baseline against which they can compare how well the process is going and a gauge to how well-aligned they are with current best practice.

Service providers need to have confidence, to understand what’s ahead of them and what they’re going to be expected to do. With BS8572 in the hands of service providers, there
is an effective means for two-way communication that ensures everyone is on the same page.

This can only serve to strengthen the experience of managing the brand.

Key points

  • Desired brand values must be expressed clearly in tender documentation
  • The impact FM providers can have on their client’s brands is not being discussed at procurement stage
  • A reward system for contractors’ ‘good behaviours’ can be part of a co-ordinated approach to how the client’s brand is presented by outsourced partners
  • The new BS8572 can be a baseline from which to gauge a contractor’s alignment with current best practice and allow two-way communication that ensures everyone is on the same page
  • For effective presentation of the brand, you need to work with people whose culture aligns with yours

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