FM and procurement need to develop better partnership, webinar hears

30 November 2014

Procurement professionals must meet facilities management clients to develop a better relationship with their organisation’s FM function, a webinar has heard.

Panellists at Trade Interchange’s discussion, Can procurement’s and FM’s interests be aligned?, agreed that a good partnership between the two functions is vital.

“Procurement people could be more engaged at an operational level, they could come and meet the client and understand what their drivers are, as well as what the FM team is trying to deliver,” said Les Stratford, chair of the British Institute of Facilities Management special interest group.

Both functions need to develop a partnership in which they are “bouncing off” each other and learning from each other’s specific skills, he explained. “Procurement could take more time to explain that FM needs to have a good understanding of process, and explain why decisions need to be made.”

Equally, procurement needs to understand the kinds of challenges FM faces. “My procurement director sat next to my team’s help desk for one year and listened, watched and looked at what we did,” said Ian Jones, director of facilities and estates at ITV. “He understood what we were trying to do for the company. Once he did that he came to be one of the most valuable members of my team.”

Dave Wilson, international facilities manager and organisational strategist, said that both procurement and FM have their own specific skills they must bring to the process. “Procurement has got experience of best practice in putting documentation together, it is able to access the executive suite possibly more easily than FM,” he said.

Procurement professionals can also bring objectivity to negotiating processes. “FM is really interested in getting the show on the road and if you are in negotiations it really weakens your hand if you look too eager to get the contract completed. Procurement can pull the reins back,” Wilson added.

While procurement and FM have different priorities and different viewpoints, “in my experience, they can work together,” said Mike Edmunds, chief technical officer at Trade Interchange.

But there is still a disconnect visible between the two functions. “There is friction as well as frustration between FM and supply management,” said Jeremy Waud, chairman of Incentive FM Group.

Prior to developing “one of the best relationships with a procurement department, anywhere” at ITV, Ian Jones had frozen his procurement director out of meetings, because he believed procurement damaged client relationships.

“FM is always responsible for the service that is being delivered, they are the customer for procurement and the procurement department needs to understand that,” he says.

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