From Service Providers to Strategic Partners 

The key to a successful Facilities Management service model is collaboration. A collaborative approach between the service provider and demand organisation is fundamental to realising the objectives of any project. A vital step that supports this strategic partnership is the terminology adopted by of the ISO 41000 standards, using the term "demand organisation" to replace the traditional use of "Client". This creates a comfortable platform towards better collaboration. The most important step in any engagement for a service provider is to understand the objectives of the demand organisation. Many service providers enter into contracts with a conventional strategy: to execute a series of preplanned tasks, meeting traditional Key Performance Indicators. 

The pace at which technology is dominating the industry gives rise to a service model that challenges the strategic front of FM. Service delivery execution is fast becoming data driven with the digitisation of service approach through real time data processing. The service provider should be equipped with expertise that will enable analysing this data for providing strategic advice and informed decisions that support the demand organisation’s objectives.

Dubai has pioneered smart initiatives that will further enforce the need for demand organisations to seek strategic partners. A report on Exploring Digital Clusters recently released by Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) describes this stating "New ‘digital geographies’ are emerging globally as technology and digitalisation change the nature of how and where we work and live. Nowhere are these changes more apparent than in Dubai, which has developed a reputation for the rapid adoption of new technologies and radically different approaches to city building" JLL (2018). 

Disruptive trends such as the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment by the Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC) have seen major developers the likes of Majid Al Futtaim signing up for the commitment which translates into a need to develop more strategic service models to achieve these ambitious goals. Service providers must move away from task-oriented practices to objective oriented strategies to meet these changes. The demand organisation must also shift its focus from solely sourcing the most commercially competitive service provider towards identifying the right strategic partner. Understanding project objectives allows for development of tailored solutions to match the uniqueness of every project. Many organisations aim to achieve a strategic partnership through a Joint Venture. However, the strategic benefi ts of setting up a Joint Venture fails in many cases owing to the underlying service model where the demand organisation focuses on driving down costs and the service provider is forced to operate with negligible profit margins. "Both the demand organisation and the service provider (inhouse or external) should share a mutual vision and understand the desired outcome and objectives of the demand organisation" ISO 41012:2017. There is a dire need for a shift away from the traditional service models. Both demand organisations and service providers need to embrace the future of service delivery by improving collaboration. Emerging smart cities and digitisation in FM will amplify the need for this shift. 

(The author Yunusa Aminu is a FM Consultant at Gregory & Jones Consultants) 










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