A recent research project by Interserve, looking into the shape of FM procurement suggested that due to the poor returns from outsourcing, the industry is moving more towards procuring integrated services or a total facilities management (TFM) solution with a longer term contract.
For the purpose of this debate, we propose to our panel that TFM is a contradiction in terms?
Can FM service provision ever be totally outsourced to one company? It certainly can’t (or certainly shouldn’t) if the client organisation doesn’t have an intelligent client function established. Someone has got to bridge the gap between the two organisations in terms of cultural differences, governance, change management, service level monitoring and other support, as and when necessary. From this point of view, the contract is not working totally or independently from the organisation. I’m also of the opinion that it takes the ‘Management,’ out of ‘Facilities Management.’ Instead, the FM becomes a monitor, order taker and accountant.
The Interserve report suggests that the FM industry has experienced poor returns following the rise in outsourcing. I’m of the opinion that bundling all services into one contract is not going to solve any of these problems. FM is at a crossroads at the worst possible time; during what could be a triple recession. We need to prove our worth in other areas other than cost cutting. TFM contracts are inherently built on profit and loss accounting and are designed to drive out cost and improve efficiency. I’m all for some of that, however, there is little room for collaboration and the expert knowledge and opinions of people within sector specific industries is lost to more general management, who’s objectives and priorities are completely contradictory to being the top of your chosen industry profession.The only way that we are going to prove our true value is to have experts in their chosen industry collaborating with each other in order to provide a welcome departure to the standard way of doing things.
I think there is a place for more of a total approach, with larger bundled contracts being awarded by larger clients. However, when you consider the promotion and use of local suppliers, having one large contractor will be in direct contravention with the objectives of many sustainability policies. These factors and considerations cannot be viewed in isolation to each other.
In my opinion, collaboration and striving for innovation in all we do, is the way forward.
It is for this reason and in response to this months question that I prefer the term integrated FM as opposed to total FM. By definition all FM should be integrated.