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23 February 2019
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09 October 2018 Herpreet Kaur Grewal


Those who use a building every day should be involved in its creation from the design stage, reports Herpreet Kaur Grewal.

Making sure value is embedded into the creation of a building from the design stage by involving users and managers is key to lengthening the quality of its running life, according to Ann Bentley of property and construction consultancy Rider Levett Bucknall.

Bentley was addressing a mixture of facilities managers and suppliers at the BIFM Procurement conference last month. The conference was organised by the BIFM’s procurement special interest group, which has about 3,000 members.

“One of the points I am trying to make quite forcibly,” said Bentley, “is that… if the asset users and asset managers are not involved right at the very early procurement stages, then you will definitely procure a sub-optimal asset. There is so much evidence to demonstrate that. But again, the evidence doesn’t always come to the fore.”

Bentley spoke about how government policy now states that “they will embed the procurement value approach in public procurement and build the capability to do this via infrastructure projects associations”.

But, she continued: “if value can’t be defined, how can it be delivered?”

She said the reason that government does not know how to do this is because “the industry does not do this very well – and only does it [at all] in some places”.

It’s the FM sector that needs to give government a definition of value and put in place standards or methodologies “so that it’s 

easy to use”.

Bentley said that the construction industry was still guilty of addressing a building’s immediate costs rather than assessing the value it could provide. “Very few clients assess both cost and value” despite “100 per cent of the value of any built asset actually happens after it is finished”.

This, reasoned Bentley, “is pretty obvious if you think about it. But so much time and effort is spent by construction professionals looking at the 20 per cent of the cost that happens before the asset is handed over and when it is in use”.

“For me, the real issue is whether we are when going to move things forward to where we need to move them. This isn’t a game; this is about using fewer resources. It’s about the future of the world. And when you put it on that platform it sounds considerably more important than just asking ‘how do I procure my new building?’ ”

Key points

Justine Cooper, global head of property information, group property, Rolls-Royce:

  • How you manage the tender affects the future relationship of the contract.
  • Take the emotion out of what could be seen as difficult or emotive contract management issues.
  • Are we ready for the changing age range of the people we’re providing service for?
  • Senior teams should support on-the-ground delivery teams, not the other way around.


Alex Gill, Managing Director for UK Services at CBRE Global Workplace Solutions:

  • Contract lengths are not long enough. We need to encourage people to invest in contracts but you can only do that over a lengthy period of time.
  • Depending on its scale, some three-year contracts see suppliers not able to make any money in the first year.

Bentley argued that artificial intelligence, empowered by multiple sensors in buildings and free data storage, afforded the FM sector “the capacity to do and change things that historically we probably haven’t had before. So what we are asking for is deliverable”.

Bentley is a member of both the UK Government’s Construction Leadership Council and the CBI’s Construction Council and an adviser to the Construction Industry Council. She also holds an MBA from Henley Business School.

The event also saw Keith Finnigan from the Crown Commercial Service explaining the opportunities for both small and larger service providers on the new framework. Elsewhere during the day, Sam de Silva, partner – technology and outsourcing at CMS UK, addressed a workshop discussion to discuss in detail a best-practice framework for a typical FM contract.

Chris Jeffers, chair of the BIFM procurement group, closed the event by describing FM as “a discipline that has grown in influence over the last 25 and 30 years and while debate goes on about whether it should have a seat in the boardroom, it should certainly have a voice in the boardroom, and an influential one”.

“As procurement professionals, we’re responsible for procuring goods and services whether as our core role or as one we have to execute to the best of our abilities into FM. It is our responsibility to ensure that whatever we’re procuring reflects and ensures sustainable ethics now and in the future,” he added.

“FM directly affects and to some degree determines how employees experience their working environment. The procurement of FM services and procurement as a wider discipline has seen an increase in influence and a discipline of importance.”

The BIFM Procurement Conference on...

...Big Data

Anne Lennox-Martin, director, FM360: “One thing that frightens me is that even our basic technologies, our CAFM systems, are still not being used to their best efficiency. I’m seeing an over-reliance on business analysts because we’ve got big data coming but and no idea how to interpret it. A real issue is that clients have a dearth of business analysis talent coming through from a handful of specialist universities. I would like the education sector to take this on with much more rigour than I’ve seen thus far.”


Julian Fris, principal consultant, Neller Davies: “Well-being is becoming absolutely imperative. It’s clear evidence of FM’s value. Catering is all about looking after people so that they perform better.

Chris Jeffers, chair, BIFM procurement group: “The procurement process requires myriad inputs from a variety of stakeholders. But when done correctly it can help shine a light on the values of an organisation those important elements that we want everyone to know about on into the world into the supply chain.”


Justine Cooper, global head of property information, group property, Rolls-Royce: “Too often FM providers roll over – ‘You tell us what you want, we’ll do it’. That’s quite frustrating. Be brave. Grow up.”

Anne Lennox-Martin: “We can all procure widgets, but service is about people and measuring relationships. We’re good at measuring delivery through KPIs and tick boxes; providers need to benchmark performance. But it’s got to be that the supplier gets to measure the client too.”

Chris Jeffers: “There’s no fixed blueprint to success. Standards and guidelines are available, and there’s a framework to work with. But applying standards is one thing – we need to keep raising them. Identifying, purchasing and delivering FM services is not static; all of us should contribute to make it a fairer and more transparent process for all.”

...Ongoing management

Anne Kinder: “Understand your relationship strategy and goals and focus on these throughout your contract. Know your contract; work at your relationship. It’s never too late.”

Julian Fris: “Do we sign contracts or treaties? It’s not just about the piece of paper, it’s about a common aim and vision. If you get that, then you get contract longevity.”

Sam De Silva, partner – technology & outsourcing, CMS Ltd: “The whole basis of a contract is to assume that trust in it will break down. A contract should be a living document; if it’s too complicated or misaligned with your operations, your contract’s wrong.”