Jeff Dewing, CEO, Cloudfm
Considering that FM contributes 8% of UK GDP and underpins the productivity, revenue, profitability and risk profile of large organisations in almost every sector of the economy, CPO’s must view FM as an investment area as opposed to an overhead just to be cut. Understandably, FM procurement often requires striking a fine balance between keeping costs as low as possible while ensuring that a high standard of service is offered. There are very few FM solutions that can achieve both these things. If raised quality and reduced costs is to be achieved, the focus must be on securing the level of transparency needed to ensure compliance and having the necessary tools and financial insight to manage and control costs.
Transparency and accurate data capture offer the foundation of trust between provider, supplier and client but there are many traditional FM solutions on the market that are not able to provide this and which, consequently, has led to the practice of poor and unfair behaviours.
Take CAFM systems, they are generally excellent at managing data. The problem lies in the process of recording the data – human input and interference leads to errors. Without accurate data capture, even the best traditional CAFM systems do not deliver the benefits they should, or that were expected. Recording detailed data on what we are doing day to day is not a natural human behaviour, particularly in an industry where operatives consistently come under pressure to deliver as much as possible as quickly as possible. For an engineer who has one too many jobs in every day, administration is neither welcome nor necessarily easy. What’s more, in an industry where ‘optimistic’ recording of both compliance and time-on-site data is often the only way that subcontractors can make a margin, recording data accurately can seem actively threatening.
A fully automated and completely transparent end-to-end management process is the answer to having complete control of the FM budget and safety of the estate. This means that from the point at which an issue is raised to it being acknowledged, quoted for, an engineer scheduled, and invoice paid, the data should not be edited or manipulated in any way, once it is entered into the system. This will ensure a fair, beneficial outcome for the client, provider and supplier.
In addition, this technology should not be bought off the shelf. It must be tailored based on the outcomes and measurements that you want to achieve. Key considerations include:
Data must be captured in a controlled, uneditable and fully transparent workflow, from the moment a task is identified through its completion, to payment and final performance analysis.
Data capture must be seamless, non-optional and there should be a robust ethical framework embedded. Incentives should be imposed for contractors to report accurately. Allow them to make a fair margin so they don’t need to report optimistically.
Enforce governance and quality assurance - Expert verify 100% of tasks, quotes, costs (i.e.: materials used) and certificates. The result is reduced cost, reduced risk and increased quality.
Control costs through effective budget management – Ensure that your FM provider offers regular financial reports and the tools to control your own FM budget so that there are no surprises when costs come through.
Ensure a whole team approach to implementation, and that it is fully understood and tested to achieve successful change management
Once detailed, verified and accurate data is made available on FM, then budgets can be effectively managed in terms of costs and benefits to the organisation. It is also important for FM providers to offer a thorough financial analysis and work with the client’s finance team and senior management to balance operational and financial goals, and harness FM as a driver of strategic success. Ultimately, when data is verified, it can be trusted. And when it is trusted, it can be used to drive the strategic objectives of the company, through both the bottom line and the top.
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