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ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE

Mark Whittaker
Mark Whittaker
29 March 2019 | Mark Whittaker 

The last five months have provided a really insightful shift in perspective for me within the FM landscape. From being very much on one side of the client versus supplier fence, I now have the ability to work within both. The reason?


Late last year I was invited to make the move from a facilities management service provider where I had worked for over 10 years to a FM solutions consultant role at a rapidly expanding FM consultancy.


There were numerous reasons why the move made sense, but one that most interested me was that I could effect change. Some of the frustrations I had harboured for years in my business development and mobilisations roles could now be used to drive change and improve how contracts are tendered and ultimately delivered. This may sound somewhat fanciful but it soon came to fruition for me.


Within a month I was in front of a public sector client who wanted to tender for their cleaning contract. Like many others, they faced mounting budgetary challenges and a lack of both internal resource and expertise to deliver the outcome they needed.


I spent the next two hours discussing some of the common pitfalls I’d come across when I had been involved from the supply side of tenders: organisations rushing to the market with incomplete information to tender against, and a lack of a clear vision as to what they wanted to achieve on the new contract and how they were going to get there. 


In addition, far too common was the setting of unrealistic timeframes to tender and mobilise, not asking the right questions of the suppliers to gauge their understanding of the contract and capability to deliver it and, finally, a need to facilitate not manage or ignore the TUPE process. 


It was a really positive experience coming out of that discussion knowing that I had made a positive, informed contribution to helping this client, as I am now doing for both client organisations and FM suppliers, on both sides of the FM fence.   


Mark Whittaker is an FM solutions consultant at Thomson FM and North Region chair for IWFM.