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Confidence in operational data boosts FM's status

Published 8th September, 2014 by Neil Nixon

Confidence in operational data boosts FM's status

Real time, trustworthy data is most likely to improve an organisation's ability to deliver on its FM priorities, according to new research from the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).

Insights from more than 150 FMs across UK businesses form the basis of the BIFM's latest report, FM and the Trust Dividend, sponsored by Cloudfm. The project explores the attitudes of organisations towards their facilities management departments and FM suppliers, and how these are influenced by the FM policies they work with.

Respondents who described their organisations as having better than average FM policies and procedures were found to:

• Have more trusting and less suspicious relationships with their FM partners.
• Be more likely to manage procurement of FM through a centralised team.
• Recognise the cost of their FM spend sooner (in contrast to an average of three to four months after the event).

Despite this, when asked to describe their relationships with FM suppliers, few portrayed them as true partnerships with most stating that such relationships were 'sensitive'. When asked what would improve this, respondents again pointed towards timely, accurate data.

Increasing demands for innovation in the FM service and evidence that service providers are adding value was also an emerging trend. When asked to what extent they felt their current FM suppliers delivered innovation and best value, senior personnel offered a generally poor assessment. When participants were asked to rank their service providers out of 10, more than half rated their suppliers as six or under.

Furthermore, when asked about the extent of senior management support for their innovation initiatives, a fifth of respondents said they did not feel supported at all, and a third only felt supported 'to a slight extent', suggesting that more reporting and data-driven results at boardroom level are required.

Encouragingly, when asked to rank the importance of FM service measures over the next three years, cutting spend ranked lowest with increasing uptime of estate and an enhanced customer experience featured highest, suggesting that organisations are increasingly aware that the choices they make in supporting their FM departments has an impact on how their customers view them.

Gareth Tancred, chief executive of BIFM, said: “What these findings tell us is that there is a clear dividend to be taken by those businesses that have worked to develop and measure the outputs of their FM departments, and it is encouraging to see that strong FM policy is driving performance. However, the 'value' of facilities management remains an elusive commodity within many businesses, and lack of measurement or accurate added value threatens to undermine the impact and benefits of FM. Given that a sizeable majority of the overall poll sample would like their relationship with their FM suppliers to be better, an ongoing commitment by senior personnel to establish and routinely measure FM's value, and what it brings to operational productivity, would not only lead to improved levels of service quality but, crucially, trusting partnerships between clients and suppliers.”

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