Experts urge buyers to look for 'cultural fit' with FM suppliers

26 September 2012

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26 September 2012 | Adam Leach

Buyers must find suppliers with similar cultural values – as well as the right cost and quality of product or service – to get the most out of a facilities management (FM) contract.

Speaking on a webinar hosted by SM and sister magazine FM World sponsored by Interserve, the panel of procurement experts highlighted the growing importance of aligning the values of both buyer and supplier.

Nick Caton, regional category lead, environment and FM EMEA at AstraZeneca, is leading a project to transform the way his company manages FM. The global pharmaceuticals company is aiming to have 90 per cent of FM services carried out by contractors. With so much responsibility handed over to third parties, evolving the buyer/supplier relationship is key. As a result, it held a number of supplier engagement events where it presented problems to potential suppliers and asked them to help develop solutions, rather than just offer prescriptive contracts.

Caton explained this more collaborative approach is intended to foster an “emotional contract” to accompany the factual one. The internal team at the company will then take on a role of governance and oversight, rather than managing the operations itself.

When asked how buyers should go about including ‘cultural fit’ in the contracting process, panellist Tony Sanders, managing director – commercial at Interserve, advised buyers to look at it at the preferred bidder stage. “We’ve found the most successful fit is at the preferred bidder stage, where there are a couple of providers and you can work quite heavily on workshops and developing a solution in a much more collaborative way. That way, you can see much more how each of you works,” he said.

Dave Wilson, director at Agents4RM, agreed that workshops are important, but also said that buyers can start to gauge it earlier on in the process. He advised buyers to use the RFP stage as a chance to ask potential suppliers about their corporate experiences, how they had been successful and also how they went about retaining clients.

The webinar, How to add value to FM procurement, will be available on the SM website later this week.


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