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Working in sweet harmony

16 February 2011

Natalie Li

How do you create a harmonious strategic relationship between occupiers and suppliers? This was the core question at yesterday's BIFM technical forum event.

The joint event entitled Creating a Beautiful Relationship, hosted by the UK Chapter of CoreNet Global and the BIFM, saw delegates and key speakers debating the issues in delivering estates and facilities services, as either total procurement or service-specific provision.

Delegates questioned whether bundling services to a single service provider was always a smart idea.

Andrew Burt, vice president for real estate and workplace services at Johnson Controls said: "Each client is different and the way the industry is moving at the moment it seems only three or four global suppliers can really provide this package. There are further suppliers who operate at a country level, and I expect to see a trend of increased cooperation between real estate and FM suppliers on a country-by-country basis."

Julie Kortens, head of facilities management at Channel 4 Television said: "In the FM arena it is tough to find one provider to work on FM and projects."

Kortens shared her experiences of procuring FM service providers. Over the past few years Kortens has re-tendered and re-modelled third party contracts, reducing FM expenditure by 10 per cent.

She is currently in a transition as she seeks to move towards a new provider. She told delegates of the importance of handling the Tupe process sensitively and not spreading costs too thinly.

"Service providers have to embrace our values, being a truly strategic partnership is what it is about," she said.

"The value of contracts is important, and, in my experience, it's not always the right thing to drive costs down."

"The supplier needs to be intelligent and understand the competitive landscape," said Kortens.

Guy Addison, deputy head of real estate at Barclays global retail banking described the innovative approach in transferring their estate management from in-house to a mature outsourced model, using third party suppliers. They appointed DTZ last year to advise on its UK property portfolio. The transition project has resulted in a more structured inspection programme and Barclays are now able to manage risk better.

"Changing an established relationship is harder than creating a new one," Addison said.

"Today Barclays has created greater collaboration and better processes are in place. We have evolved a new operating model and we will continue to evolve this."

"Our former outsourcing model had become outdated as there was no performance management and the contract failed to react quickly enough to customer requirements. We were looking for better alignment between real estate advisers and legal advisers."

Martyn Hayward, director of facilities management at DTZ, ended: "Suppliers need to go the extra mile and align their services to your business needs, the client doesn't want complacency but the energy to drive forward innovation."