Maxwell Stephens

Facilities Management Sector

In the Facilities Management Sector Facilities Managers are expected by their organisations to competently manage an ever increasing list of tasks and at the same time understand their own employer core business and contribute to that bottom line.

Before I attended the recent Workplace Futures Conference I always presumed that FM’s are mainly required to reduce the FM department costs and improve their department efficiency whilst helping to maintain a positive image of the company offices and brand.


However having listened to Barry Varcoe’s presentation based on recent research, it helped me grasp one of the current much bigger pictures; it seems that increases in money and resource as an input in the FM supply chain importantly don’t always directly translate into a clear increase in service or customer satisfaction as an output.


Are FM’s therefore wasting their time or we all focussed as an industry on the wrong things? The economic climate has a lot to play with regards to the cost and efficiency drivers.


Several presentations during the day went on to say that as a whole the industry (from the supply side) seems so focussed on managing these inputs; that they don’t always stop for a minute to worry about the outcomes. Whilst crucially the two main things at the heart of many of the value propositions of the leading service providers are the lower cost and the increases in efficiency. Some of the presenters went on to explain this as one of the fundamental flaws in the FM sector.


Looking over the day as a whole what is clear is that there are indeed many common themes!


The poor economic conditions of the recent past and the future were not far from the either the audience or any of the presenters minds. Vivek Madan stated “Ill Winds are blowing”. What transcribed is that the FM sector is a fiercer marketplace than before with further intense competition predicted, with perhaps too many options for clients in a buying position to choose from. That the market is mature and that it continues to mature further and evolve; Lucy Jeynes explained that buyers of FM services are continuing to stretch the procurement boundaries; making the process to compete in a tendering situation tougher and tougher for the suppliers.


Whilst we all know the UK economy is still subject to a fragile recovery with a general revenue slowdown for the supplier market; two forces for good for the future are going to be the requirement for outstanding leadership and the ever improving statistics and demands on workplace rationalisation.


I wasn’t surprised but I was absolutely delighted to hear that both Barry Varcoe and Chris Kane and their respective organisations put people above property. It transpires the future of FM is about understanding how people feel; delivering the right level of service to each different party with the aim of an exceptional overall customer experience.


Overall I found the Workplaces Futures Conference to be a well-attended, thought provoking, extremely well organised event set in a great venue. Thank-you to the FMA and for the superb organisation and stewardship.


Peter Forshaw, Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens

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