Innovation the impetus behind outsourced FM's evolution

23 April 2014 | Richard Sykes

Industry forecasters are in agreement; the cost-saving mission that has long underpinned buyers’ decisions around outsourcing is making way for a greater focus on service and the trend is gathering pace.

For the uninitiated, this may not appear to be most ground-breaking development to befall an industry in which service is the raison d’etre. However, it does signal a shift in the attitudes of purchasers who now expect outsourcers to deliver real business value and outcomes that bring benefits to the company’s ultimate customer.

We are all seeing the evolution of outsourcing and FM from a background function - maintaining the status quo as cheaply as possible - to more of a strategic partner able to elevate the offering and boost productivity and competitiveness.

As this potential is explored fully, provider and purchaser are becoming ever more aligned in strategy and purpose. Reactive conversations of previous years, prompted when something goes wrong, are now replaced with a consistent dialogue and much closer working relationship.

At the heart of this transition has been innovation. Straitened times has seen clients demand more bang for their buck and the industry has responded with fresh ideas, transformational projects and methodologies that have revolutionised service delivery.

From sustainable practices that reduce an operation’s environmental impact, to analytics that can dissect a contract’s performance in forensic detail, the repercussions run deep. Furthermore, there is the growing awareness of FM’s technological capabilities and potential to create a vision that can transform the workspace. This can have a major impact on the engagement and productivity of the client’s employees by inspiring environments that promote flexibility and a strong cultural identity.

The same diligence is being extended to the people who actually deliver the services. Successful FM business is built on the passion and pride of the teams on the ground and their role in influencing the quality of the overall experience can not be underestimated. Providers that invest in talented, creative and motivated staff, who recognise the power of the human touch and how it translates to a high level of service will achieve the best results for their client. Any cut corners will only manifest into a more negative experience for the end user.

Of course cost and value for money will always matter, but the kind of service outcomes that take a contract’s performance to the next level are an increasingly important metric; the price-squeezing tunnel vision of yesteryear will only compromise this progress.

☛ Richard Sykes is chief executive officer at ISS Facility Services, UK & Ireland

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