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Credit is due

Outsourcing FM services is a delicate business that can go horribly wrong without trust and a shared commitment to partnership working

Two years ago, consumer data and software business Callcredit Information Group decided to take on full management of its headquarters in Leeds. This was no mean undertaking given the scale of the building – 78,000 sq ft of office space, housing over 800 staff across seven floors. Clearly it was vital to select the right partner to facilitate the handover and handle the ongoing management of the building.

Following a rigorous tender process, corporate office FM specialist Anabas was awarded a three-year contract worth an initial £1.5 million. As well as supporting the change, this covered FM services including cleaning, M&E maintenance, building maintenance and FM helpdesk.

Hedia Merlin, Group Head of Facilities at Callcredit, explains how Anabas came to be added to the tender list: “Anabas came highly recommended to me by a valued contact in my network. We wanted and needed a provider that was of a size and scale to be able to professionally manage all of our facilities. This partner needed to come with all the reassurances that are required from a cost, risk and compliance perspective – but at the same time not be so big that we did not feel important to them.”

Merlin concluded that Anabas shared Callcredit’s values and interest in partnership working. “We also needed a partner who was going to be able to work with us very closely to manage the mobilisation process – and one that would handle the TUPE of all existing staff, in a careful and sensitive manner,” she says. “This was a real stipulation because we are a business that values long-term relationships. It was imperative not only that all of the existing supply chain, many of whom had worked with us for years, were retained, but that it was a positive experience for all concerned.”

Callcredit was further reassured by the guarantee of direct access to Anabas Managing Director Alistair Craig and his management team when needed.

With a go live date of 1 January, it was all hands on deck during the festive season. Led by Anabas Commercial Manager JohnPaul Pearson, the Anabas team had only a short space of time to get to grips not only with the infrastructure and the fabric of the building, but also with the 20-plus contractors already delivering key services.

A detailed mobilisation plan and risk register was prepared and Anabas undertook a full condition survey of all plant and equipment, assessing all asset registers and PPM planners. It was then over to the commercial team and subject matter experts. These included finance to provide payroll support, the operations team for asset management, modification, validation, surveying and PPM planning, and procurement for full audits of the existing suppliers, enabling HR to manage the TUPE process. This was the lengthiest process of all, requiring detailed assessment of each individual to ensure they had the required H&S and COSHH training to earn the necessary safety passport.

“With over 20 existing contractors to engage with, it was a huge undertaking to spend time getting to know each business and the individuals within, in order to meet the client’s requirements,” says Pearson. “However, despite the challenge this posed, the TUPE process was a real success and worked better than we had expected.”

To facilitate the daily management, a dedicated Anabas Facilities Manager, Mel Sharratt, was appointed and is permanently based on site at the Callcredit offices to lead on operations. Managing a team including 15 cleaners and five office staff who deliver a 24-hour service, Mel and her team are located in the facilities work area alongside the Callcredit Group Head of FM and Operations. This has ensured that the facilities team is seen as ‘one’ across the business, to provide a seamless delivery model of management.

“Being based on site was 100 per cent the right decision for both Anabas and Callcredit,” says Sharratt. “The proximity allows me to keep an eye on the site every day and enables me to always have a view on what needs to happen. It was also important from the very beginning that the Anabas staff felt part of the wider facilities team – and were viewed as such by the wider business. By creating a dedicated area, we are able to work more collaboratively and efficiently.”

A ‘floor captains’ system was put in place to support the smooth daily running of FM services across the site. The floor captains are individuals trained to become the FM team’s eyes and ears. They are the go-to people for any problems and work closely alongside the onsite helpdesk to ensure that all issues are logged accurately and resolved in a timely manner.

“Floor captains are a core part of the Anabas service delivery for many of our clients,” explains Sharratt. “Recruitment of quality people is a major challenge across the industry, and so resourcing the team appropriately can be difficult. This is why we select ambitious individuals who are keen to learn, and then upskill them to deliver a range of services. The training includes basic electrical, fabric maintenance, SIA, legionella, basic plumbing, painting and additional more complex skills. This has saved money off the bottom line for Callcredit and has reduced the need to bring individuals in at a costly fee to deliver one-off services.”

She adds: “As a supplier it is important to provide added value for clients and the floor captains do just that. We are also creating the FMs of the future by providing these individuals with a rounded experience, and continually developing the teams within.”

Says Hedia Merlin: “The three floor captains were staff who went through the TUPE process. Anabas has enhanced their careers and massively upskilled them. The training has enabled them to provide support across the board and has added flexibility to the team. It has also ensured that we are not working in silos, but together, as they are able to help with managing absence, changes in shifts and illnesses.”

She believes the relationship that has been built with Anabas is an excellent example of collaboration. “There’s a great culture and we all work together as one team. When the going gets tough, we problem solve together – it’s all hands on deck, there is absolutely no ‘that’s not my job’ mentality.”

Monthly reporting by Anabas provides a full overview, and a quarterly review with Anabas MD Alistair Craig ensures that the delivery stays on track. The team is always thinking strategically and solving problems.

“My main objective when I made the decision to outsource the FM was to free up my time, allowing me to focus more on FM at a strategic level for the business,” says Merlin. “Anabas has enabled this to happen. The biggest challenge for me has been stepping back from the day-to-day management and allowing Mel and her team to manage it all. However, Mel makes it easy for me to trust the jobs are being done effectively and provides me with the necessary overview without bogging me down with the minutiae detail. We work through major issues and problem solve together, so it’s the best of both worlds, really.”

She’s also proud of the way the partners have managed to maintain a cultural balance. “It’s important that the Anabas staff feel part of the Callcredit team. As such they are completely involved and treated like any other employee.”

On the back of a successful first year, Callcredit expanded the scope of the Anabas contract for 2017. Several services were added to the initial contract alongside the management of Callcredit’s newly refurbished, client-facing London office. Anabas now delivers a range of services including cleaning and maintenance, reception, hospitality, security and compliance – as well as the floor captain service.

Callcredit is set to refurbish its Leeds HQ later this year, and is looking to extend the contract to enable Anabas to help. It will be quite a challenge as the building will be fully occupied during the process.

“Finding an FM company to deliver services is easy, but finding the right partner is not,” Merlin warns. “The way in which our two businesses work together is testament to the hard work of many. The overall impression I get of Anabas is of a company that does really care about Callcredit as a customer, and a team that strives to do their best
every day.

“The two businesses fit well together culturally, and we plan to continue working together. There has been a huge investment in time on both sides, and we see this as a long-term fit.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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