Plan for change during long-term FM deals, buyers told

24 October 2012

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24 October 2012 | Adam Leach

Continuity of personnel on both the buyer and supplier side is vital in the early days of a facilities management (FM) deal, but change should not cause any major problems if there is a strong succession plan in place.

That was the conclusion of a panel of FM and procurement experts during Extending FM contract terms – will clients always win?, a joint webinar run by SM and sister title FM World in association with Office Depot. During yesterday’s event, three experts from the facilities management and procurement fields offered their views on how to judge the right time to change personnel on a contract and how to minimise potential disruption.

Matthew Smith, head of procurement at Office Depot UK & Ireland, told listeners it is vital to have continuity in the early stages of a contract. He added that achieving full benefits may require patience. “I’m very much of the view that people need to know and be experts in the field. Therefore you have to spend time building and growing that knowledge in order for them to be that ‘go-to’ person,” he said.

But in some circumstances, he admitted that changes might be needed to stop the contract and buyer/supplier relationship suffering. “If you start to see individuals managing contracts to a minimum rather than driving innovation, then you need to take action.”

Peter Jones, head of facilities management EMEA at CBRE, agreed that continuity is important early on, but advised buyers to plan for change from the outset. “Over the life of an FM contract, you do need to have change and it must be managed positively. It’s something that the client and the provider need to sit down and discuss. You need to make sure that there’s a catalyst for change continually.”

Alan Barratt, a consultant at Barratt & Co, highlighted the importance of having a clear action plan, with defined roles and responsibilities. “If you’ve got a defined set of roles and rules of engagement and an understanding with that contractor from day one, then that transition should be seamless,” he said.

The webinar will be available for download on both the SM and FM World websites later this week.

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