Friday, 2 August 2013

What puts the 'total' in Total Facilities Management?

Until the facilities management industry can agree on a clear definition of TFM, the service model will never truly deliver the value it promises.

Ask 10 people what the ‘total’ means in Total Facilities Management and you will get 12 different answers. This creates a problem for TFM – an identity crisis and, more importantly, a value crisis.

There have been debates since time began on what this ‘total’ is and the answers, in reality, probably will not deviate from a common theme. I believe most people see TFM as a collection of services, such as cleaning, security and maintenance, managed collectively and supported by a single helpdesk.

Having no industry definition inhibits our understanding of TFM value
Even this loose belief means different things to different people. For example, if an in-house FM says they operate a TFM service but on further discussion and understanding, different contractors deliver their services - is this still TFM?

This brings different opinions and understandings of the value that TFM can achieve. You may have heard some of these different perceptions. Some say ‘TFM didn’t work for us’ or ‘we prefer a single service model’; but without a definition, how do people know if TFM provides the value that they think it might or if TFM provides a better service than any other approach?

TFM should deliver greater value/cost saving than a single service model
The consensus is that a TFM solution drives better value and/or lower cost than the comparable single services added together. Driving this are economies of scale and less duplication of management overheads.

The converse argument is that ‘specialisms’ are lost. You will naturally need a larger supplier or a more general management team that can manage multiple technical disciplines to deliver the services, as opposed to specialists who will deliver a single technical area alone. You may have seen the role ‘soft FM manager’, which normally bundles cleaning, catering and security – all of which are very different technical disciplines.

Large TFM suppliers in the industry will cross-skill staff. This extracts further value because staff up-skill to do jobs that otherwise would have been completed by more qualified engineers, for example, as in the case of fire alarm testing undertaken by security officers.

TFM is about more than just the blue collar services
The majority of TFM delivery models are focused on blue collar delivery. This leaves a number of missed opportunities. Expanding the ‘total’ FM service into the following areas could yield further value:

• Integration with the real estate strategy of the organisation would combine the traditional white collar aspects of the property service with the blue collar FM service delivery
• Expanding into other areas of workplace support as opposed to just physical buildings
• The re-organisation of staff into a TFM model goes further than the cross-skilling described earlier. It is a re-design of the workforce from, for example, ‘cleaner plus’ to ‘soft FM services operative’.
• Ensuring that the service specialisms are not lost so that TFM benefits from best practice and emerging themes in service industries.

There is a natural tendency towards TFM in the market over time
The bundling and unbundling of services naturally occurs in a contract cycle, as buyers search for better value by coming to market in a different way to their current provision. There is also a less frequent in-source/outsource cycle. Buyers who believe they do not get the value desired from their outsourcing drive this.

Single service providers sell based on their specialism. However, they have a natural tendency to diversify into other services to grow their business as their single service business reaches market saturation. This will naturally move those providers towards being able to provide a TFM model.

The UK is currently in a period of unprecedented budget cuts, which is pushing the requirement for higher productivity and cost savings in non-core business areas such as FM. This puts strain on prices and will force suppliers and buyers to innovate in order to maintain margins and save costs. One way to do this is to bundle more services together to create value and protect revenue and profit.

In recent FM industry debates, there is evident a desire for FM to be ‘strategic’ within the organisation. To do this, FM will need to have a bigger presence in the organisation, deliver more value and have a larger share of the overall budget. Therefore, FM needs to pool budgets together. This allows the enlarged FM department to have more leverage to prove its worth.
Developing the standard would allow FMs to manage the journey to TFM
If we look at a similar industry, say ICT, this is predominantly a support service to an organisation. It is multi faceted and it only takes one service failure for the world to fall apart. Sound familiar? The ICT industry has quite a robust set of frameworks and standards for the delivery of services so that customers know what a good service looks like. Supporting this is a ‘maturity model’ that measures and defines where an organisation would like their service to be.

If there is a natural trend towards TFM then should we try to figure out what exactly it is so that suppliers and clients have a defined TFM framework or benchmark to evaluate what level of TFM they are delivering or providing? This would ensure that facilities managers extract full value to avoid the ‘it didn’t give us what we thought’ shortfall we commonly see in TFM - because clients would be able to manage their service against a common benchmark and put actions in place to deliver the value.

Robert Cunliffe is a Director in
Capita Symonds’ facilities management team. He is currently seeking to develop a maturity framework for TFM to help clients and suppliers define, measure and manage their path to a true TFM solution.

No comments:

Post a Comment