Earlier this year, Procurement and FM professionals took part in a roundtable event sponsored by Office Depot to find out what the two functions really think of each other. You can read the full story online, but here is a summary of the discussions together with just some of their comments…
It was clear that both Procurement and FM need to establish trust and develop greater understanding to foster closer and more rewarding relationships.
Communication and relationship building were also seen to be key. There is a need for the two parties to talk more about their complementary roles, with a requirement for both functions to engage at an earlier stage in proceedings.
As Les O’Gorman, head of facilities at UCB Celltech, commented:
“Ninety per cent of our services are not commoditised, they are people-driven. We should involve procurement colleagues more in what we do as a business partner, not wait until there’s a tender exercise. Get them on board early to understand your business and the way you work.”
Lucy Jeynes, MD of Larch Consulting, spoke on similar lines: “Buyers need to appreciate that a lot of the FM services are not commodities, they need to be specified and evaluated more carefully.”
It’s also good to remind people that the financial cost of a product or service isn’t necessarily the same as its total value.
Jason Cousins, Premises and Facilities Director of Olswang, stated:
“You still need an element of comparing apples with apples. Procurement people like to be able to say: ‘This is the cheapest’. It’s okay putting the cheapest in, but can they deliver what you want?”
Matthew Smith, Head of Procurement at Office Depot, added:
“Most of us understand there is much more to a tender than just cost, for example quality and service delivery. I don’t think cheap as chips exists any more – we are all a bit more sophisticated.”
He also summed up the benefits of a closer working relationship between Procurement and FM: “If you get a shared understanding and goal alignment, it should be a marriage made in heaven”.