Open-access content 1st June 2009
Relationships are a critical success factor for any business and never more so when facing an economic turn down. So how will the introduction of a British standard help?
by David E Hawkins
4 June 2009
A recession should not perhaps be the catalyst for considering business relationships but unfortunately when the going gets tough they come to the fore, and most often then challenging the validity of investing in these relationships only to break them at that first sign of trouble. Creating a robust relationship is a crucial aspect of building more effective performance. If these relationships have a solid foundation then meeting the challenges of a recession should be an opportunity for innovation and enhanced performance.
The pressures of the market, hit both customer and provider but constructive dialogue depends on there being a well established relationship and this is no more evident than in the field of FM. The current challenge should be the opportunity for progressive FM companies to look at how they can support customers and reinforce their relationships for the future.
Recognising the growing trend towards collaboration, partnering in support of outsourcing programmes the British Standards Institution published the world's first relationship management standard in November 2006. PAS 11000 Collaborative Business Relationships provides an eight-stage framework to help organisations to develop and manage their approaches to working with other organisations more effectively. It sets out for organisations of any size and sector good practice principles and has wide implications for public and private sector organisations in how to manage valuable business relationships within the supply chain.
This standard represents a major milestone in developing more effective business relationships. In building on best practice, this is a unique platform on which organisations can benefit from working together to enhance competitiveness on a local, national and global level. Long-term relationships are frequently impacted by organisational and personnel changes this model provides a structure to embed best practice.
A significant number of organisations, including the MoD, have started to implement the standard recognising its value as a neutral platform on which to harness joint capabilities and deliver value. The standards framework was developed by a pan-industry group and provides the foundation which recognises the need to allow flexibility in terms of existing good practices within organisations.
The next stage was to establish a basis on which organisations can use the principles, benchmark themselves and help to evaluate potential partners' collaborative approaches through external independent validation. The BSI recognised that for the standard to deliver its full potential the creation of a certification programme was an important element. BSI specialists have engaged with PSL to develop an approach to the assessment process and launch a pilot programme.
A pilot pathfinder workshop was held on 8 April 2009 at the BSI HQ in London to explain how the assessment process would work. The initial group of companies agreed who agreed to participate in the pilot included; Amec, Ascent, BT Global Services, EADS, Raytheon Systems, National Air Traffic Services , Lockheed Martin, TNT, VT, Siemens Enterprise, Toshiba, Magnox North and Rolls Royce Submarines.
The programme will evolve over this summer with five to six companies being taken through the assessment programme with these organisations receiving accreditation by late September as the first in the world to be certified against a national standard. The full programme will be available before the end of the year providing a foundation for companies to promote their collaborative capability.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of this development is the establishment of the world's first pan-industry benchmark standard that can be deployed to provide a robust structure for business relationships to create value and enhance competitive edge. In the current economic environment its application will provide a platform on which to validate and strengthen current relationships, using the model to evaluate and focus on joint solutions to support customer's objectives within a challenging market.
For the longer term the aim is that the standard will evolve to a BS and then ISO. In an industry such as FM where sound relationships are crucial factor the adoption of the standard is likely to become the recognised measure for collaborative capability and a significant factor in the development and evaluation of future outsourcing programmes.
David E Hawkins is director of operations at Partnership Sourcing Limited and the technical author of PAS 11000
The PAS 11000 frameworkAwareness - understanding the fit with business objectives
Knowledge - understanding how others have approached collaboration
Internal assessment - evaluating your organisations readiness to collaborate
Partner selection - finding the right partner to complement your objectives
Working relationship - building a joint approach focused on mutual benefit
Additional value creation - developing addition value from the relationship
Staying together - ensuring you measure and maintain maximum benefit
Exit strategy - recognising changes and preparing for disengagement