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24 April 2018
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Colin Kenton is managing director, FM Services, KBR
Colin Kenton is managing director, FM Services, KBR

11 April 2017 | Colin Kenton

When high-profile collapses in outsourcing arrangements occur, it’s often speculated that the concept of outsourcing itself is to blame. 

But what’s often at fault is a lack of shared vision and objectives between service partner and client – and a combative rather than collaborative approach towards both procurement and management.

Both parties need a shared vision of what the relationship will look like if it is to be a success. Not discussing major issues such as how to deal with conflicts will have as big an impact as if a married couple fails to discuss overall life goals.

Just as a couple only digs out a marriage certificate when they’re contemplating divorce, so a commercial contract is only consulted when things go wrong. Sadly, there are instances where the client is looking for the supplier to fail to make an example of them, or the service provider wants to get out of the relationship and deliberately lets things go. It should never get to that point.

Collaboration must be instilled from the outset when the team is formed. Co-locating client and service provider teams can create a collaborative environment; problems can be dealt with before they become big issues just by having a quick chat rather than setting up a formal meeting. Joint training also helps create the sense of a cohesive team.

This type of approach is a big adjustment for many facilities professionals, requiring a significant change management programme. There’s a risk that senior leaders on both sides forget to communicate to their teams; over-communication and ongoing positive reinforcement are essential.

Using this approach, the client will open up to talk about issues that they might not share under a more traditional relationship. The service provider finds out what the problems are in the organisation, and the client is open about when the service partner isn’t delivering.

Colin Kenton is managing director, FM Services, KBR