Getting the most from outsourced facilities management

Facilities services are to a great extent outsourced to specialist companies who do the work or subcontract it to other companies, while the client organisation manages the facilities management (FM) arrangements. In some cases the whole of FM has been outsourced.

Over the last 11 years Purchasing Index (PI) has benchmarked many aspects of FM – catering, cleaning, etc., and has found that getting real value from these arrangements is often difficult, Karen van Staden of PI tells SmartProcurement.

“Why does one catering service provider (SP) achieve disparate staff utilisation rates of 63% and 17% respectively in the staff restaurants of two large organisations in the same town and in the same business sector? Both facilities are modern, both offer a wide choice of meals,” asks van Staden.

The answer requires careful and thorough analysis of all the facts and a clear understanding of the role of the catering SP and its relationship with the management and staff of the organisations it serves.

Managing facilities is, in some ways, a thankless task – the level of service often falls short of management expectations and yet FM managers rarely get thanked when it is all going smoothly.

Is there a strategy behind the outsourcing arrangement and does the FM company understand it?
• Does the SP have the right level of management involved?
• Is there a proper service level agreement (SLA) in place?
• Does the SLA measure the correct key performance issues?
• Does the SLA place the relevant level of responsibility on SPs for success and innovation?
• Is the SLA used as a basis for ensuring the right level of service?
• Are there regular management meetings to resolve issues, etc?

A way to find out what will work in each particular situation is to benchmark each company’s arrangements against other organizations which have or have not outsourced facilities services and/or management, says van Staden.

Therefore, PI is embarking on a further benchmark to define and measure the relationships between the client and overall FM company and the relevant sub-contractors, where such a relationship exists. Areas that will be covered include strategy, scope, service levels, reporting lines and methods, and relationships (both objectively and subjectively).

PI has the methodology and experience to assist organizations share structured, relevant information on each aspect of FM and the iterative nature of the benchmark service keeps information up-to-date, while measuring progress for each participant.

The aim of the benchmark is to assist client organizations to strengthen their relationships with FM companies and help them understand what other businesses are doing on an on-going basis to manage costs, ensure high levels of service and how they can innovate to meet changing business requirements.

If you are interested in participating in this and adding to the scope of the benchmark, please contact Karen van Staden ( or Alan Low (

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