03 September 2018 | Martin Read
Martin Read argues of the need for greater transparency in service outsourcing.
The definition of madness, as I'm sure we are all familiar with by now, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
So when MPs call on government to be more transparent about the reasons for outsourcing , while at the same time private clients call on service providers to be more transparent with them in how they propose to operate contracts, well, it's transparently obvious what kind of game-changing change is in focus just now.
People on all sides seem agreed that more transparency is needed in service outsourcing - particularly how much a demand organisation knows about the underlying performance of the supplier they're thinking of demanding from.
In 2018's febrile market, it's understandable that organisations, whatever their role in the service procurement chain, want greater knowledge of those they're considering - and currently - trading with. The better the procurement decision (and the audit trail supporting it), the better the operational outcomes are likely to be.
Calls for greater transparency are everywhere. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee has suggested government publish its rationale for all service outsourcing decisions, while IT is seen as informing the demand for transparency from FM clients who believe more visible metrics means better underlying performance - leaving providers to focus on wider issues of overall efficiency.
What seems less frequently noted amidst all these quests for transparency is a corresponding need for commercial opacity. Suppliers, after all, need to maintain a unique competitive distinctiveness. Surely the more transparent they're forced to be at the outset, the less of that distinctiveness they have left both to make their case and to carry into operational performance. How this circle is squared seems just as crucial to changing how the outsourced FM market works as the quest for transparency. Because the definition of madness, as I'm sure we are all familiar with by now, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Martin Read is editor of FM World