In this second segment of our three-part series, we continue the exploration of simple steps (ABC's) to achieve excellence in building management and deliver value in challenging economic times.
In the first segment, we focussed on getting to Know your Facility! We discussed the importance of (A) knowing what Assets you have to maintain; (B) Benchmarking the performance of your assets and your facility operations; and (C) the importance of knowing what Conditon your assets are in; what it Costs you to maintain those assets and facility; and how this collectively brings you to the point where you will be able to attain greater Control!
While it's important to know your facility, it's just as important to focus on the people that you rely on to maintain your facility. We will explore three steps to achieve this, breaking each of these into smaller ''ABC'' processes, so you can deliver greater value in these challenging economic times. The second point on our To Do List is this: Know Your Vendors!
And the ABC's of knowing your Vendors is simple...
Within the Caribbean we tend to mostly use Prescriptive Contracts. These contracts generally outline (prescribe) in exact precise specifications what the vendor is supposed to do, and are not very flexible. As a result, they can stifle innovation and morale, and give contractors little incentive or motivation to do anything beyond exactly what is specified.
Instead, we need to start looking more at Performance-Based, also known Outcome-Based Contracts. These describe the expected results rather than describing how, and gives the vendor flexibility in the means to achieve those results. This provides the vendor with more motivation for seeking cost efficiencies, improvements and adding value.
So, if we look at a landscaping contract, within the scope of works of typical prescriptive contracts we may see things such as the vendor is required to:
And what you may find is that during the dry season they are out there cutting just stirring up dust there is nothing to cut. Yet in the heart of the rainy season, the grass is growing so fast it’s looking like a jungle between their site visits. It is also on you to police that contract with all those prescriptive instructions to ensure that the vendor is performing per your contract.
But if we instead use a performance-based contract, the vendor would be required to:
The vendor is now free to adjust his schedule for watering, mowing, hedge trimming, and other activities as required, and you don’t have to spent time policing him. You can also see plainly when he is not meeting the performance targets: there is no arguing when there is a bare spot in the lawn, or that the lawn or hedges are not being maintained according to your performance standards. This allows your vendor to be more efficient with his resources and frees up your staff time from policing to more productive activities.
This same concept can also be applied to your staff! In setting your performance plans and targets you should look at what are the outcomes that are desired from the activities under their purview. So set your targets for your staff to achieve what really matters.
You can also make your vendors responsible for reporting their performance to you on a regular basis. Once you have established the key indicators that you need to monitor contract performance, make this monthly or weekly reporting part of your contract requirements. Again, this shifts the burden off of you, from constant monitoring towards simply performing verification checks. And again, this same concept also applies to your staff.
And just as you would tend to give your staff quarterly, semi-annual or annual performance assessments, I also believe in giving your vendors regular performance assessments. This allows them the opportunity to know how they are meeting your requirements and gives them the opportunity to improve during the course of the contract. This works to the benefit of both parties.
Both your vendors and your staff are an extension of your FM service. Very often they may even be the face which many of your customers or end-users interface with daily. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure that within their daily interactions they espouse the same values as your FM function, and they understand clearly what are your priorities.
On that note, we all need to learn from the numerous public relations fiascos that have recently been highlighted in the media. Don’t get so bogged down with procedures that you forget the key thing the procedures are supposed to help you achieve in the first place… customer satisfaction, the efficient maintenance and management of your facilities… the safety, well-being and security of the end-users of your facility!
So... now that you have determined (A) how to make your vendors (and staff) more Accountable, and you better understand the importance of (B) sharing the Big Picture ... let's look at C - Consult.
Whether you realise it or not…. your vendors are a source of expert advice, and very often they will provide much of that advice free of cost to you.
Think about it: If I am a professional specialising in the business of making widgets, I’m going to make sure I know everything there is to know about making widgets. And if you, as an FM need to have a widget installed in your facility, I will be an excellent source of advice on the most suitable type of widget to be installed to meet your needs, as well as how best to safely install that widget safely in the shortest possible time. So, it makes sense to consult with your vendors!
Now, I’m not saying to take everything that your vendors say as the gospel! You still need to take everything with a grain of salt and evaluate critically. But the fact remains that they are still an excellent source of advice.
So too are your staff! They very often are on the front line interacting with customers or end-users and experience much of the problems that you have with your FM function first-hand. Therefore, it makes sense to engage both your staff and vendors. Ask them what you can do differently? Ask them how you can improve?
You may be surprised at the positive suggestions you may get out of these conversations!
In our next session, we will examine the "ABC's" of the third step to achieve excellence in building management and deliver value in challenging economic times.