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Outsourcing In FM Still Hot Topic Of Conversation

Written by Heidi Schwartz. Posted in Facility Management, Featured Post, FM Alert

Tagged: , ,

Published on August 22, 2012 with No Comments

Earlier this year, facility management (FM) professionals from around the world came to Dubai’s World Trade Centre for the International Workshop hosted by MEFMA (Middle East FM Association). The international workshop lined up speakers to discuss the common topic of all Global FM Workshops in 2012: The new economy – the right time and the right place for FM.

The discussion highlighted that FM is growing to new levels of expertise, going far beyond pure building maintenance and reaching other key areas like security, safety, crisis management, etc. There is a growing awareness about the need of involving FMs right at the design stage of operations which is a great achievement for the industry, and outsourcing becomes a very well accepted practise. It is getting more and more popular to outsource to FM companies whilst businesses concentrate on their core practice and industry. Something unheard of in the Middle East only a few years, ago the new outsourcing trend is becoming ever more popular.

Due to the ever-increasing projects in the Middle East that are not only large in size but awe-inspiring, this—coupled with the new trend— has fuelled the need for high-end FM companies. The Middle East is home to some truly amazing developments including the tallest tower in the world, the first manmade Palm Jumeriah island, the largest shopping mall on the globe, new university cities, and the first Ferrari theme park. The list goes on and on and makes the demand for FM ever more prevalent.

With a totally different perspective, outsourcing was also at the center of attention at the Paris International Workshop. The event was hosted by ARSEG, the French FM association (association des directeurs de l’environnement de travail).

During the event, Ian Broadbent (Hallmark Cards, BIFM chair) explained that the British FM market is in good health despite the current turndown. The growth is supported by a continuing outsourcing movement, acquisitions of innovative small companies made by the major actors that reinforce their global offer and their margins, and the public sector that is still looking for a better cost control. One of the biggest challenges anticipated is that 60% of the current facilities managers are due to retire in the next 10 years.

“The industry has moved beyond the four walls; however we need to continue to diversify, innovate, and embrace different challenges if FM is to be seen as the key business enabler” Broadbent concluded.

Characteristic for the French FM market is that companies are continuously in the search for cutting costs through outsourcing and office space reduction, which leads to difficult changes in the way companies and employees were used to work. “That’s the reason why ARSEG recommends strongly to its members to deepen their change management competencies” Lionel Cottin (ARSEG) explained.

Frédéric Coquerie (group implementation director at VINCI Facilities) highlighted the impact that has on service providers by stating, “Facilities management doesn’t escape globalisation and there are more and more global calls for tender including 10 to 15 countries.”

While Pascale Mangot-Lagarde (regional facilities manager at Royal Bank of Scotland, ARSEG vice-president) agreed with this observation, she highlighted that in house working environment departments have to be very careful with the way they define their global and local SLAs.

“By defining a very precise global SLA, companies take the risk of not matching with local requirements.” Mangot-Lagarde warned and continued, “Did you know that outsourcing security was unlawful in Turkey?”

That’s the reason why the local factor has to be considered very carefully in these transnational contracts.

Finally, the discussion concentrated on whether international standards in FM are needed or not. Even if very few people seem to use the existing EU standards, everybody agreed that it would be beneficial to get at least some common definitions of the major terms used in FM, helping FM professionals to understand each other. 

About Heidi Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM's parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities. Schwartz can be reached at schwartz@groupc.com.

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