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Chris Jeffers
Chris Jeffers

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07 May 2019 Chris Jeffers

Social value should form an integral part in FM procurement projects, says Chris Jeffers.

The concepts that social value embodies have always been important, but as we understand more about how performance and productivity are linked to people’s well-being and sense of community, so companies have needed to respond. 

Approaches to, and support of social value initiatives are becoming standard assessment questions in FM procurement, even if the level of emphasis is variable. To succeed at winning and retaining FM service contracts, service providers must evidence sustainable business ethics, linking themes on environmental management, corporate and social responsibility, and support to local communities, as well as demonstrating compliance with legislation such as the Modern Slavery Act. 

When delivered in a coherent ‘fit for purpose’ strategy that has clear achievable goals in the short, medium and long term, these vital elements support a social value position which, rather than being based on innovation or added value, should be viewed simply as ‘how business is done’.

Sustainable approaches to FM service delivery and to social value are therefore intrinsically linked and must be analysed as part of the procurement process. It is for the client organisation to determine how much emphasis is placed on these elements when determining evaluation criteria, but they are becoming increasingly reputational.

The procurement process is not always smooth or efficient. Common problems have been the race to the bottom on price, opaque bidding, where resourcing and costs are not transparent and unrealistic client expectations for price, squeezing margins and disincentivising the right behaviours. 

Such issues should not detract from the import of social value, which should be integral to FM procurement projects, to uphold the reputation of participants and satisfy the aspirations of employees. It is only through a professionally managed procurement process that an organisation can prove its commitment to social value themes, reflecting its culture and values.

Chris Jeffers is chair of the IWFM Procurement SIG