The argument has raged long and plenty regarding the optimum shape of the services which support the core business function. In-house, service line specialist, integrated facilities management or total facilities management, the potential permutations are many.
Whichever mode is utilised, there are fundamental principles which are prevalent in peer group successes. The support function operating model must clearly support the core business, underpinning strategic outcomes, and the costs must fall within agreed and affordable parameters.
With increasing reliance on a workplace that follows activity based or agile working practices, the need for innovative, cost effective support services is paramount and the advent of co-working space exponentially increases this requirement. The employee and guest experience is now very much central to a productive business outcome for most professional services companies, ensuring a happy, healthy and engaging environment. The various touchpoints with the providers of facilities services play a key role in this and the different models of outsourcing often impact the experience that is likely to result.
Integrated facilities management companies can provide a single solution, covering a complete range of services, with integrated back-office functions and economic benefits. The integrated provider is unlikely to be an expert in all the services, although many claim to be. A high quality hard and soft services solution often proves the most challenging to achieve, resulting in often invisible sub-contract to others, resulting in informal mixed economies within which quality is difficult to achieve or maintain. Many will claim that this is the most commercially efficient model.
Outsourcing to specialist single service providers allows you to focus on your core business, whilst your service providers focus on what they are best at. Having experts delivering the service should lead to higher efficiencies and better service quality, but will create a client side management need.
Companies, such as property managers, for whom service quality is vital in terms of brand, image, or revenue streams, often utilise specialist suppliers, creating synergies and co-operation across their different providers, so they operate as one team with a shared goal. The focus is on delivering the best experience for building users in the most efficient way. The ultimate goal is to achieve a seamless, high quality harmonious outcome, across service partners, across all disciplines, irrespective of the service structure. Regardless of whom employs the receptionists, security guards and cleaners, there must be a social cohesion, so that they work together collaboratively, focusing on customer experience and embodying the culture and values of the client organisation. A mechanism is therefore needed for the service partners to buy into this ultimate shared goal and to work as one team to deliver an overall service on your behalf, with your support.
So how can this be achieved by an individual client?
The solution may well not be an outsourcing model, nor is it a bundling strategy. The optimum solution is a cultural alignment of companies and individuals, for whom sharing a common goal, is common sense and not a political, cultural or commercial contest. If there was no outsourcing industry we would all be colleagues and any mechanism that returns the support function to common purpose, must surely be valuable.
From being greeted by frontline colleagues as people approach and enter the workplace, being hosted through a clean thoroughfare to the reception to access the building, and from general day-to-day interaction to emergency situations, the one team philosophy should provide a safe, clean, welcoming, maintained and secure environment that demonstrably raises the user experience. Irrespective of the structure used to deliver the support functions, all suppliers should be a part of a formal collaborative programme, with shared goals, values and processes. A number of specialist service providers, including NJC, are already comfortable with this way of working and there are success stories where customers have achieved a single cohesive outcome, with multiple support partners both in-house and outsourced.
As the world of work careers inexorably towards collaborative use of system, space and resource, more productive outcomes will be achieved where the non-core services behave in a similar and symbiotic fashion, forging ever more efficient outcomes, irrespective of our salary source.
The modern way of collaborative business outcomes will require an agile, modern support function that thinks, acts and behaves as one team.