The Outsourcing Era

Many Facilities Managers find themselves managing outsourced services. By that we mean that a service was once internally provided, but a decision was made for an external supplier to provide it instead. Whilst outsourcing as a business choice is fairly mature, there are still many examples of services that are internally managed which are being outsourced.

As a Facilities Manager, you may be involved in a similar project, and there are quite a number of things to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line of the next contract.

TUPE

TUPE stands for the transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations. The regs themselves are too complex for a full explanation here, but in essence they move the employees and their liabilities from the old employer to the new employer by operation of law. It was constructed to protect employees, primarily in response to the way in which outsourced services had put employees at a disadvantage. From an FM perspective you need to be aware that your employee’s dedicated to providing the service will by operation of law transfer to the supplier who will provide the service. This introduces a number of conversations, but you would be advised to contact your internal legal team to take some advice.

Service Levels

As an internally provided service, you may or may not have had service levels. This is of course always good practice to ensure that other business units understand what will be provided and when. When working with a third party supplier you should set out clear service requirements and a service level agreement. This makes expectations on both sides very clear from the start. It is sensible to include this within a contract and review it frequently in a service review meeting. You may even consider asking the supplier to provide service based credits in the event that the SLA is not met.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Sometimes things go wrong and that may be totally unavoidable. Let us take the example of an outsourced print service where the vendor operates their service from one main location which happens to be close to a river. In this example you would want to understand how the vendor would continue to provide the service in the event that the location was flooded. They may have a disaster recovery plan which states that they can relocate to a secondary site within 24 hours. Your job as the Manager of the service is to ensure that the plans are appropriate and that you cover the process they will undertake contractually. Clearly your concern and attention to this matter will be based on the criticality of the service being provided.

In Summary

There are many things to consider when outsourcing a service, remember that a lot of the knowledge of how a service is provided internally is living inside the heads of your employees. Therefore there needs to be a robust requirements gathering and planning phase before considering outsourcing to a third party.

Peter Forshaw – Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens

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