Outsourcing facility services is a trend, we read everywhere. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing cleaning, green maintenance, technical maintenance and so on?
The days when every company employed a person to do the cleaning, mow the lawn and occasionally change a light bulb are a few decades behind us. Most companies realised long ago that each of these jobs is a separate speciality. Separate teams were set up for cleaning, security, greenery maintenance, technical maintenance and so on.
To manage and coordinate the complete package of facility services, every company today employs a facility manager or building manager. The job title varies, the task description usually does not. It always comes down to managing all supporting activities for the primary process of an organisation.
The position of facilities manager has evolved considerably in recent years. The focus is increasingly on quality. There is the increased digitalisation, the demand for data. Another trend in facilities services is the increasing emphasis on sustainability. This does not make the tasks of the cleaners, technicians, gardeners and handymen any easier. The increased specialisation is forcing many companies to outsourcing their facility services.
Outsourcing facility services: cheaper?
The cost aspect plays a prominent role in every company. An important question is therefore: is outsourcing facilities services cheaper than organising and performing all these services yourself? If we look only at the cost price of the cleaners, handymen, etc., the answer is certainly not always ‘yes’. However, it is important to keep in mind what you get in exchange for the money you pay to an external, facilities service provider.
If your company organises the cleaning itself, then your cleaning team will ensure that your infrastructure is cleaned every day. But there is more to it than that. The follow-up, for example. And checking the quality. But also the correct and punctual payment of the maintenance staff. And what if the cleaning lady is absent for a few days due to illness? So within a company, it’s not only the facility manager who is busy with cleaning, but also the accounting department, the HR department, and so on.
If you choose to outsource your facility services, the service provider will not only take over the cleaning, but also all related ‘worries’ such as administration and so on. If the permanent employee is ill, a replacement is guaranteed. Continuity is thus assured.
Moreover, a specialised company follows all trends and evolutions in the sector. So you are always assured of a state-of-the-art service. Moreover, you can assume that specialists in their field deliver just that little bit more quality. And often in a more efficient way too. After all, it is their core business, which is not the case for your company.
Influence on the role of the facility manager
Your company buildings and infrastructure are more than just ‘the place where your employees can do their work’. Buildings are the business card of a company. And, of course, they are also part of the company’s capital. They therefore deserve the greatest care. The role of the facility manager has therefore evolved. He leans ever closer to the strategic level of the company. The facility service provider, in consultation with him, takes care of the operational aspects.
‘What is the best way to welcome our customers?’ ‘In what circumstances can we organise meetings most efficiently?’ It is these kinds of questions that the facility manager should focus on. Rather than questions such as ‘when will the flowers be watered again?’. Or ‘why doesn’t the lift work?’. The facility manager is the person who has the total overview and ensures, through good cooperation with the facility service providers, that everyone in the company can work in ideal conditions.
He gives the necessary advice and offers solutions. He directs his subcontractors in implementing these plans. His focus is more on the long term (‘how do green areas contribute to the wellbeing of our employees?’) than on the short term (‘we urgently need to order toilet paper’). In this way, the facility manager acts as a coordinator and advisor, because he knows that the operational aspects are in good hands with the facility partner.
Outsourcing facility management services to 1 or more partners?
A recent, additional evolution in facilities services is that more and more companies are outsourcing their facilities services to one partner, a specialist in Integrated Facility Management or IFM. In a next article we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of this.