One of the most interesting proposals at this week’s ThinkFM event, the annual BIFM conference, was that of one of the sector’s biggest names, Ruby Mcgregor-Smith, now a Senior Advisor at MACE. In a discussion on how outsourcing and FM can remain profitable without sacrificing quality of service delivery and supplier relationships, she commented that 30 years on from the beginning of outsourcing the sector needs an effective industry voice.
“It’s seven per cent of GDP, we employ millions of people – from the SMEs through to the big players, and whether you’re a big player or a small player you don’t really think you’ve got a voice that is understood,” she said.
“Let’s create the voice now. Let’s relaunch what’s good for the industry. We’ve done a lot of soul searching about what doesn’t work but clients will know what does work, and we should focus on that.”
Prior to the wider panel discussion, Jeremy Waud, Chairman, Incentive FM, noted that the perception is that “our industry is in a bit of a mess but does that mean outsourcing is failing.” His argument was that, “FM partnership definitely can work, but there needs to be a sensible strategy, and organisations need to find companies that fit with them and help them get to where they want to be.”
This sentiment was echoed by the rest of the panel which comprised Ed Hudson, Regional Head of FM, UBS, who represented the FM client’s perspective, Paul Lester, Chairman, CBE, and George McFarlane, Director of Sector Development, CBI, who honed in on the public sector’s challenges.
McFarlane noted that it is absolutely vital to support the public sector and the challenges it faces and suggested that the outsourcing sector needs to focus on value, going beyond cost to understand what the customer is really purchasing and what significance that has in a long term.
The consensus by the panel that outsourcing remains a viable model but as a mature industry, FM must evolve to prosper was a theme which the conference returned to throughout the day.
There will be a full conference report in the next issue of FMJ and online.
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