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University research reveals concern for Brexit in FM sector

Published 12th August, 2016 by Neil Nixon

University research reveals concern for Brexit in FM sector

The latest research from Sheffield Hallam University has revealed substantial concern about the UK's decision to leave the European Union. The fourth FM sector survey, which was sponsored by strategic exterior maintenance services company GRITIT, and FM service provider Servest Group, focused on service delivery models, client/provider relationships, and outsourcing trends.

When asked what they considered to be the FM game changers in the next five years, changes in legislation as a result of Brexit was mentioned as a key issue. Other potential game changers are:

• The use of technology in terms of improving the delivery of services and transparency, specifically, the Internet of Things, robotics, software programmes, and 'uberisation' through apps.
• Big data and analytics, specifically being able to link data to decision making to improve productivity and service quality.
• Culture change - changing attitudes towards working/workplace resulting in changes in how people work and communicate - be it through technology or changes to the built environment as people become less reliant on attending offices or more willing to share space.
• Cost - increased competition, buyers' reduced budgets, and service users' high expectations, new legislation as a result of Brexit, and the Living Wage increasing costs.

The research also revealed that the overall trend towards outsourcing continues unabated, with those who outsource doing so to a much greater degree - 69% now outsource more than 50% of their FM services. This trend is more prevalent in the private than public and third sectors. However, many clients are still taking a short-term approach to their relationships with their FM partners. Around half said they would re-tender and re-scope their current facilities contracts when they reached the end of their term. Over the next five years, demand for TFM, bundled, and integrated forms of service delivery is perceived to increase, while single services will decrease.

Outsourcing objectives are broadly similar now as they were three years ago - financial savings, better technical expertise, buying efficiencies, and access to best practice - but service providers are getting better at meeting their clients' objectives the research revealed.

Communication, working together as a team, and better alignment of strategies and plans are the top areas both end-users, service providers, and FM consultants feel buyers need to improve to better their outsourcing efforts - similar to three years ago. But there are differences between the groups. Those bidding for services (45%) feel there is less room for improvement regarding initial request for proposals and briefings than responding to the tenders (58%). Conversely, more end-users feel there is room for improvement regarding KPIs and reporting (60% vs 48%) and service level agreements (64% vs 46%) than service providers and FM consultants combined.

The sector is innovating to a greater degree than in 2013. More than 60% of organisations innovate now compared to 42% three years ago. But innovation is seldom made a requirement in service delivery using externally accountable methods such as contract terms (15%) or SLAs (22%).

GRITIT and Servest Group commissioned the research from Sheffield Hallam University. It was undertaken during a three-week period in April 2016. An online survey was distributed through i-FM, by Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Facilities Management Development at Sheffield Business School, and through GRITIT and Servest's client networks. In total, 368 individuals responded to the survey, substantially more than in 2013.
“This research provides invaluable insight into the state of the FM nation,” said Rob Legge, group chief executive officer at Servest Group. “It demonstrates the key concerns of both clients and suppliers and demonstrates that while the two sides are working closer together than ever before, there is clearly more work to be done on both sides.”

Jason Petsch, chief executive officer at GRITIT, added: “As a service provider with data at its heart, we are delighted to see big data being considered as a major game changer for the FM sector. The research forecasts that the next five years will see a major change in the sector and we look forward to being a key part of that.”

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