We asked Chris Jeffers, committee member of the IWFM Procurement SIG, and a director and head of Facility Advisory at Mott MacDonald, to tackle the topic of procurement of facilities services by answering three key questions: Where are we now, where do we need to get to next – and how do we get there?
Facilities management procurement.
Where are we now?
A better place than we have been but some way still to go. More protagonists are aware of the need to demonstrate value over time and the need for cost transparency, as well as the essential focus on long-term value. But procurements involve lots of stakeholders and it is so important for all to be aware of and agreed on the key drivers and objectives for FM procurement projects. It remains a challenge to identify the right balance between effective cost control of FM and the appropriate level of service to the core business – and the best way to do this is identifying and focusing on sustainable value drivers.
Where do we need to get to next?
A place where FM contracts are procured and managed in an open, transparent, balanced, fair and value-driven context, where all parties to the contract are working together to deliver an optimum outcome. Standardising specifications, pricing models and performance mechanisms will help with this. This work, in turn, needs to be based on an acceptance of FM standards for our industry.
A collaborative partnership-based model should be our goal in FM procurement. The vested model has some really positive attributes; if it is not right or applicable for all situations, there are certainly some positives that all can learn from. We need to highlight and champion exemplar models of best practice. We have spent too many years as an industry focusing on contract failures, but not necessarily learning the lessons from them or promoting some of the fantastic work that is being delivered.
How do we get there?
We need more frank conversations around delivering on aspects that are more long-term and, at the macro level, these must be the real drivers behind FM contracts.
Social value, sustainability, health and wellbeing (client side and for the service provider staff) have all increased in visibility in recent years – now they need to be clarified and confirmed as business as usual, not added value.
FM has huge potential to positively impact societal improvement, but only if all stakeholders in FM procurement agree and commit to long-term realistic goals. This will lower perceptions of risk and increase returns, financial and otherwise.
We need to embrace – and master – the technology available to us. Key to sustainable success will be a re-evaluation of what we consider to be “value” – and it is not the lowest cost! The ability to demonstrate value will never be more important as ‘business streamlining’ is likely to consider morphing FM into wider business support services, such as asset management, real estate, energy and sustainability, all of which will be promoting their own specialisms, identities and importance. FM must do the same and ensure the C-suite recognises FM as a priority.