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FMs tell purchasers: 'FM is not a commodity'

2 March 2012

Procurement professionals should consider the people behind the facilities management goods and services they buy, according to participants at a roundtable debate in London this week.

Les O’Gorman, associate director of FM at pharmaceuticals company UCB, said FM is “a people-driven business and not a commodity”, something which purchasers should understand.

“You need to get procurement people and your business to understand this early on in the process so when you come to put a specification together, they get it,” said O’Gorman, speaking at the debate set up jointly between FM World and its sister publication Supply Management.

Jeremy Waud, managing director of Incentive FM, agreed. “It’s not a widget, it’s a people thing,” he said. “If you get the strategy and scope right and buy-in from the client, you’re set. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t and it ends in conflict.”

Lucy Jeynes, managing director of Larch Consulting, said FM services are complex and “not commodities or body-shops”.

Susan Scott-Parker, chief executive of the Employers’ Forum on Disability, agreed. “If both parties better understood the human beings who as ‘end users’ ultimately determine if it’s working, we would all be in a better place,” said Scott-Parker.
FM and procurement professionals took part in the debate, set up in association with Office Depot, which examined how the two disciplines could work together more effectively.

Trust, mutual respect and an understanding of what each does are vital, according to John Bowen, who started as a buyer and now works as an FM consultant. Jason Cousins, premises and facilities director at Olswang, agreed that a better, more trusting relationship was key.

Mark Hurst, head of the FM division at Office Depot, said communication is essential. Martyn Sherrington, head of procurement and supply chain management at SGP Property and Facilities Management, agreed the two parties needed to talk more.

Peter Titus, director of DCT Facilities Management, said that listening and getting the specification right was also essential.
Emily Hill, senior category manager in procurement at Dixons Retail, said more data-driven analysis is required to understand the root cause of failure. “This will take the emotion out of particular issues and help to build improved solutions,” she said.

Matthew Smith, head of procurement at Office Depot, said: “If you get a shared understanding and goal alignment it should be a marriage made in heaven.”
While, Andrew Quinn, director of purchasing and facilities at SCEE (Sony PlayStation), said getting the organisational structure and set-up right so procurement and FMs work alongside one another really helps.

A full report on the roundtable will be published in 22 March issue of FM World.

Other news for Friday, 2 March 2012

FMs tell purchasers: 'FM is not a commodity'

OCS acquires Irish FM business Integris

Sykes: market eyes more global FM strategies

Wind energy centre set for Strathclyde University

Contracts round-up

FM World Blog: It's 'procurement week', so hug a purchaser