Exploiting innovation in developing an FM strategy

One of the key services provided for facilities managers by contract energy management companies is the improvement of energy performance.
Outsourcing facilities-management responsibilities to a specialist company with an innovative attitude provides the opportunity to satisfy competitive cost criteria via efficiency benefits rather than service cuts. JAMIE REYNOLDS explores how.Managing the facilities of an organisation effectively and in a way that maximises value depends on a coherent facilities strategy. This relies on comprehensive analysis of objectives, policies, resources, processes and procedures. However, in its simplest form, what a facilities manager needs is a company that can manage its portfolio proficiently and in a way that reflects the impression it wants to create. That perception is very individual; compare the different shopping environments being pursued by a luxury retailer or a bulk purchase warehouse. What is thus required is the ability to analyse the data and create an integrated solution for the provision of non-core services that exploits technological advances and economies of scale. Key elements of such an approach include in-house/outsourced services, procurement strategy, IT strategy, human resources, provision of change management, service level agreements, performance measurement, financial planning, real-estate strategy and business systems and procedures. A portfolio approach Perhaps the most significant recent service innovation is the ability to manage a multi-site property portfolio through a single portal. Investment in a global centralised information system by an outsourced contractor allows FMs the opportunity to access real-time visibility of job status and performance reports on a 24/7 basis. This contrasts sharply with the use of discrete computer networks operating on a site-by-site basis by ensuring service transparency and allowing IT innovations to be transferable across all properties. With the portal as the platform, a whole series of differentiated services are available, offering clients added value in terms of operational management. The process starts at the outset of the contract with the bar-coding of all assets and scanning of relevant information via handheld devices that offer the opportunity to speed mobilisation by up to 30%. Collected data is automatically uploaded on to an asset data gathering system incorporating labour planning and equipment specification with data migrated to the database system for viewable access via the portal. Planned preventive maintenance Integral to the FM role is to protect the assets, maximise their usefulness and prevent general dilapidation through the selection of the appropriate maintenance policy. There are three main policies — planned preventive maintenance, planned corrective maintenance and breakdown maintenance. The advantage of the portal approach is that it allows what is initially the most expensive form of maintenance to be implemented efficiently. Ultimately, this creates long-term value according to a series of whole-life costing criteria, including lower average running costs and increased asset life. This process can be taken a step further by creating a virtual logbook, which is designed to integrate the process of mandatory inspections more cost-effectively within a planned preventative maintenance schedule. Via the portal, statutory certificates are stored electronically alongside individual asset data. An audit link means the relevant certificate can be accessed prior to planned inspection, thus enabling annual certification to take place. On a day-to-day basis, FMs using the portal can gain access to critical management information more easily using a communication hub that is more up to date. Real time performance information on individual jobs is available as service engineers confirm job closure to the portal on the spot via handheld Blackberries, as practised by GSH. Furthermore, a balanced scorecard consisting of headline performance and cost-analysis information allows comparison from building to building on a monthly basis and the implementation of FM best practice. Energy conservation Improving energy performance has shot to the top of the FM value agenda, given wholesale price increases in gas and electricity of 60% and 50%, respectively, in the past year and the impending European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Conservation-based contract energy management (CEM) puts the focus on using less energy as the most important way in which companies can cut bills. One such example is GSH’s energyplus service, which is integrated within its FM package and provides a guaranteed percentage reduction in consumption cost. This is designed to help companies reduce consumption through engineering best practice. The service complements corporate environmental policies and reduces pollution through maximised efficiency, as well as lowering the impact from the Climate Change Levy. In conclusion Finally, perhaps the most important way in which an outsourced total FM can deliver value to its clients is its commitment to customer service and continuous improvement. What is sometimes overlooked is the innumerable small ways in which a supplier can add value on a day-to-day basis through fast problem resolution via the helpdesk or going the extra mile. It is this can-do attitude that can make all the difference between the FM department feeling the building is well-managed, as opposed to being permanently on the defensive. Jamie Reynolds is national commercial director with GSH, Forge Lane, Stoke-on-Trent Staffs ST1 5PZ.
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