Workplace Futures 2011: Commoditisation vs Service Solution – which is the future of FM?
All service delivery models offer benefits - to particular types of organisations in particular circumstances. But what types, and in what circumstances? How does a buyer make sense of what’s on offer; and how does a supplier ensure it has facilitated that process rather than obstructed it? Getting this right is critical – especially when you add today’s unprecedented economic pressures on top of the evolving nature of FM (not to mention political change, particularly if you operate in the public sector).
The challenge for the buyer is to be an informed decision-maker, an ‘intelligent client’. The challenge for the provider is to be equally intelligent in offering a response to the needs expressed.
Let’s be honest – there are some big gaps here, on both sides. Workplace Futures 2011 was designed to help fill those gaps - by helping clients gain the intelligence they need to make sound decisions, in selecting delivery models and in appointing contractors - as well as in managing contracts once they are in place.
Highlights of the day included:
• Robin Cartwright, Partner, and Matthew Webster, Assistant Director, at KPMG on the current state of the market and its likely shape over the next 12 months
• Andrew Wilkinson, Head of Managing Agent Business, Atkins, on the role of consultancy in assessing needs and defining a way forward
• Derek Paxman, Head of Facilities Management, University of the Arts London, on in-house service provision
• Stuart Lowden, Managing Director at Wilson James, on the role of the specialist in delivering a single-service solution
• Robert Guice, Executive Vice President EMEA at Shred-it, on finding suppliers to meet a highly specific brief
• Emma Pearson, Corporate Development Director, G4S Integrated Services, on the bundled service solution
• Fiona Perrin, Sales & Marketing Director at HSS plc, on mixing a commodity approach with service delivery
• Edward Finch, Professor in Facilities Management at Salford University, on the commodification of FM
• John Brownless, UK Sales Director – FM at Compass, on integrated services
• Paul Worland, Director of Business Development, EMCOR UK, on TFM
• Ben Munn, Joint Global Head, Workplace Strategies, CB Richard Ellis, on workplace asset management
• Mike Cant, Director, Larch Consulting and Chairman, Mercury FM, on new solutions for the industry
• Gordon Parker, Managing Director, Coretex International, on new perspectives on the ‘intelligent client’.
Much of the programme was devoted to the various service delivery routes available in the market – not the simple starting point it may seem, as many client organisations (and, it became clear, more than a few providers) find the commonly used terms troubling.
“We want everyone to recognise that one size does not fit all when it comes to FM,” said i-FM Managing Director David Emanuel. “Different models fit different organisations, and different service providers fit the culture of different organisations, too.
“Too often, clients offer opportunities to tender to those that they shouldn’t and, in the same way, service providers waste their resources bidding for business that they won’t realistically win. Both parties need to be more selective in their approach.”
Amongst the conclusions to be drawn from a series of strong and informative presentations, and the ensuing discussion, is the fact that the industry has a problem with communication – and that problem is compounded by the terminology we use routinely. The meanings of 'bundled services', 'integrated services', 'TFM', even 'core' and 'non-core', are not fixed and therefore confuse both buyers and suppliers. It was also argued more than once that many buyers don’t see their needs in these terms at all.
Summing up the event, and the situation in which the industry finds itself, Conference Chairman Martin Pickard said: “We have a great need for effective communication – now more than ever. There is still too much distrust amongst the sectors in the industry and too much confusion about needs and offers. Effective communication is a challenge, but it must be a priority.”
Special thanks to our sponsors for a highly successful Workplace Futures 2011: