Time to take stock of your assets?

As a large proportion of office workers continue to work from home, the pictures of deserted city centres are becoming all too familiar. What we rarely get to see on our screens is the near empty workspaces which sit behind those city centre facades.

Put simply, fewer people are leaving home for work and they are spending less time there, if they do. On top of this, all the predictions suggest that businesses are unlikely to turn the clock back and return to the working patterns of the past. Several high-profile organisations are saying they will willingly allow people to continue to work from home indefinitely, so what does all this mean if you are a MD or an FD desperately trying to reduce spending on property to give your business the best chance of survival?

Many estates in all sectors are not operating to capacity and investment decisions are at best, on hold, so this is an ideal time to take stock of the current health and condition of your asset base and plan for the future.

Asset Management is described in the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) anatomy as “the coordinated activity of an organisation to realise value from its Assets” where assets are considered to be an “item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organisation”.

Effective asset management increases efficiency, extends component life, improves reliability and allows owners to focus resources on the assets that are critical to their core purpose, so reducing risk to operational output and reducing operating costs.

To cut down costs as well as save the environment, organisations will have to adhere to a strict protocol. This will include the basic functionalities of building asset management. They are:

  • construction
  • operation
  • maintenance
  • refurbishment of assets and buildings.

But with most organisations at present keen on saving the day, planning for the future has become limited. Most organisations will not be able to extract maximum value from the prevalent building assets. Going forward, organisations must plan. They must have a plan that has policies and strategies that drive the achievement of asset standards and reducing life cycle costs.

In planning for the future, the following become essential.

  • Maintaining a systematic record of individual assets (an inventory)—e.g. acquisition cost, original service life, remaining useful life, physical condition, repair and maintenance consistency.
  • Developing a defined programme for sustaining the aggregate body of assets through planned maintenance, repair, and replacement.
  • Implementing and managing information systems in support of these systems.

We can help you make better use of scarce resources, balance cost, risk, opportunity and performance when delivering user’s needs, and be confident that assets, asset systems and processes are operating as intended throughout their lifecycle.

myfm has the capability and resources available to assist FM delivery teams and estate owners to make fact-based decisions which drive efficiencies in maintenance and put risk mitigation strategies in place whilst maintaining compliance across their estate.

We are typically asked to support our clients in the following areas:

  • Asset condition surveys (on site and remote).
  • Advise on strategic management plans (SAMPs) and policies.
  • Preparation of asset management plans.
  • Advise on Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) tools (selection and configuration).
  • Asset data configuration
  • Identification of assets critical to the organisation’s core function and tailoring maintenance regimes to ensure critical asset availability.
  • Implementation of SFG20 maintenance regimes.

myfm carried out an asset survey for a global consultancy and construction company with a major retail brand across 195 stores in the UK and Europe this summer. We used 10 highly qualified surveyors who worked remotely, given the travel restrictions we were all facing. Retail managers helped facilitate technology so the team could gather information via virtual floor walking at each site. The approach was so successful that we are confident it can streamline the way similar project are completed in future, particularly by reducing travel costs and travel time.

To find out more about the myfm approach to asset management contact Chris Knights – chris.knights@myfm.co.uk or Mané Lucas – mane.lucas@myfm.co.uk.

 

Why muddle through when you can triumph?

We all know the theory about why managers should delegate, and it is so much more than just off loading the jobs you don’t fancy doing yourself!

Delegation helps you focus your energy on the most important jobs in hand. Often, it provides the opportunity to get tasks completed by someone who can do a better job than you. And when you are overworked, stressed or simply getting a bit behind, it releases the bottleneck around your own capacity, enabling everyone to pull together as a team and succeed.

Put simply, if you want to be seen as a high achiever in today’s workplace you need to demonstrate you have what it takes to enable your whole team to do well and that involves delegation.

What lots of us are finding though is that in the current climate, when everyone is taking on more work and teams are getting leaner by the day, getting the balance right between what we do ourselves and what we delegate to others is getting trickier.

Put it another way, you are managing a team which is shrinking, and you have lost some of the specialist talent which you have relied on in the past. Do you try to complete these tasks yourself or pass them to someone else who is probably already overloaded with work and may not have fully developed the skills required? If you take this on yourself it will divert you from other work or increase the pressure and stress levels which you already face. But the alternative is probably a dissatisfied client when expectations are not fully met because standards of delivery have slipped.

Whichever option you choose will inevitably have a knock-on effect on your perceived performance, as well as that of your team. Can you afford that to happen, especially when you are trying not to rock the boat because you are worried about your own future?

These are the sort of real dilemmas playing out in FM teams today. But the thing is it doesn’t have to be this way, disadvantaging you, your career and your team’s success. The key is to have access to the right skills and experience when you need it most. You can turn on and off the specialist talent you require, only paying for what you need, through the interim placement market.

At myfm we will step in at short notice to fill a skills gap for a few days, a few weeks or even longer, if you wish. This means you can access the best quality skills and experience our industry can offer, enabling you as a manager to focus solely on how to meet immediate needs rather than trying to anticipate complicated scenarios about what the future might hold.

We have a bank of over 200 associates, ready and willing to provide the extra capacity you need. We also have a large number of FM specialists available, who are especially useful if you have had to lose a niche role during downsizing.

Times are tough, we all know that. But as a manager why compromise when it comes to your own success? We can help you develop the right skills mix around you, so you can enable your team to triumph over adversity, rather than simply muddle through and get the job done.

To talk to myfm about interim placement contact Ulf Muller – ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk.

Be your own boss within our interim recruitment business

Few working in the recruitment industry doubt that we are in a period of major upheaval. So much has changed in 2020 – working practices, uncertainty about further lockdowns, the economy, greater reliance on online methods for selection and vetting – and all this is having an impact on the way firms are choosing to manage emerging skills gaps.

Despite all this uncertainty one thing looks pretty clear cut, there will continue to be a need for businesses to access top-class talent on an interim basis. The question is how they will choose to do so in future and how businesses like ours will adapt to meet their changing needs.

An exciting point in myfm’s journey

Following some changes in our team, we are looking for a new Business Unit Director to join myfm to help us navigate our way at this important time. Our new Business Unit Director will run their own business within our business and importantly, will help us shape the direction myfm will take.

We have already been operating for 16 years focusing on interim placement within the facilities management sector. During this time, we have developed a strong brand and reputation with many of the FM service providers and end-user clients in both the UK and Europe. But we do want our business to adapt and grow, and that is where you come in.

Welcome challenge?

We believe over the next few months we will probably see increasing demand for short-term and flexible appointments as the economy starts to stabilise again. We anticipate operating in an environment for some time yet, where people have less freedom to travel for work, especially from the areas hardest hit by Covid. Technology is already playing an important part in our day-to-day operations, but we are eager to learn more about how we can innovate further to maintain that competitive edge.

To succeed, you will also need more than five years’ senior interim management experience.

If these challenges excite you and encourage you to see opportunities where others see threats, and if you have the skills and experience then get in touch.

Be your own boss

Think of myfm as a buoyancy aid – you take the plunge using your skills, experience, contacts and a huge amount of commitment and hard work. We support you to succeed with the help of our established brand, exceptional reputation and central services such as resourcing, finance, marketing and administration, as well as access to over 200 associates to help deliver the contracts you will land.

Mike Bradley, Business Unit Director (BUD) for myfm says: “I would say being a successful BUD is all about work rate. The more effort you put in the more opportunities you get. This is an arrangement which really works for me because it provides me with an income and lifestyle which suits my needs.”

Ulf Muller, Managing Director and Business Unit Director for myfm says: “This is an exciting time for our business and a time when the right person, with the right entrepreneurial spirit can help us develop and grow.”

If becoming a new Business Unit Director sounds like you, contact Ulf Muller to have an informal chat ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk.

Covid-19

At myfm, we are supporting our clients in these challenging times by sharing our knowledge and experience, and through the placement of specialist FM contractors.

Our commitment to you remains steadfast. We will help to keep your business operating as effectively as possible, so you can minimise the risks for you and your clients.

For example, we will help you:

  • Plan for when buildings start to reopen.
  • Plan and implement services, such as thermal imaging, fogging and sanitisation, hygiene monitoring and modifications to cleaning specifications.
  • Implement power efficiency measures.
  • By providing additional skilled capacity.
  • To assess volunteers, returners, and temporary staff.
  • With compliance management and knowledge sharing on new regulations and guidance post Covid-19, once this is available.

As we continue to manage the challenges of Covid-19 and transition into what might become a new normal in the coming weeks, the myfm team are here to assist you with proactive scenario planning. We will do our utmost to react flexibly to your dynamic needs while maintaining the effectiveness and professionalism that you expect from us.

You are welcome to contact us directly, either to talk through your requirements or simply have a chat. We hope you stay safe and healthy.

The myfm team

“Is a lack of access to fresh drinking water a problem in FM?”

Monitoring the wellbeing of staff and the occupants of a building is becoming increasingly important for Facilities Managers; just as important as the building itself. Many businesses are starting to take notice and are implementing wellbeing at work targets more and more as a direct result with many individuals in the workplace naming sustainability and wellbeing as high-importance factors in their current roles.

One of the key requirements for a workplace that has both health and wellbeing at its forefront is access to fresh drinking water. The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) recommends that men drink approximately 2.5 litres of water and 2 litres for women which on the back of a recent report that suggests cognitive performance can drop significantly if the water levels in your body also drops by 2% or more, further highlights the importance of drinking water. Additionally, dehydration is known to cause tiredness, headaches, confusion and in some instances a general feeling of weakness.

Unfortunately, not all businesses have made the necessary changes to address this need with many still yet to make the changes necessary for access to fresh drinking water. This has resulted in a rise in the usage of plastic water bottles which has subsequently contributed to plastic pollution. It is therefore more important than ever for businesses to take these issues more seriously and to start implementing better access to fresh water to promote increased wellbeing in the workplace.

More information can be found here: https://www.fmj.co.uk/the-fm-drinking-water-dilemma/

“The difference between sourcing and recruiting?”

The terms ‘sourcing’ and ‘recruiting’ are frequently mistaken for meaning the same thing; they are somewhat interchangeable in how they are used but in fact possess their own unique definitions. For many, a grey line exists between the two that is further compounded by their habitual misuse and a lack of understanding surrounding what they actually mean.

Sourcing can be defined as ‘a proactive search for individuals who possess specific job-related qualifications for current or soon-to-be open positions of employment.’ Ultimately, sourcing differs from recruitment in the sense that the candidates are somewhat more passive and are not identified through more typical means such as job boards and other similar websites. In addition to this, sourcing can sometimes promote and include the use of referrals when identifying candidates for a job opening.

Recruiting on the other hand is defined as ‘the reactive reviewing of CVs and applications in response to a job opportunity.’ A major difference between recruiting and sourcing is the fact that recruiters often handle a lot of the administration work that is typically associated with job applications (i.e. posting opportunities on job boards, reviewing applications, contacting respondents and preparing them for interviews). Although a lot of these tasks overlap with those of sourcing, the 2 roles are still very much different. Where sourcing is more proactive in the sense that it is ongoing, recruitment is defined and often regarded as being more reactive.

How do you decide how many people to interview?

Deciding how many individuals to interview for a job opportunity is a problematic and challenging task. For many, one of the easiest and simplest solutions is to interview everyone that appears to be suitable for the opportunity and has the necessary qualifications. Whilst this may seem like a good idea on paper, a large pool of applicants does not necessarily mean that they are all competent individuals suitable for the role in question. Whilst there are obvious benefits to this approach such as the ability to directly compare the skill sets of all candidates to make more informed decisions, it in fact presents several issues that can be very difficult to overcome.

For example, it takes a great amount of time & effort to interview large amounts of candidates; significantly more than a smaller and more focussed group. This has an added disadvantage of additional administration & HR work and can slow down the feedback process after interviews, further hindering the overall timing of decisions. Additionally, a bigger pool of candidates can almost certainly mean that in some instances, it will take longer to make a final decision on who will be hired.

Perhaps you would be right then, to assume that the easiest solution is to simply interview less individuals? In fact, this solution comes with its own unique set of benefits and challenges.

The answer it seems is not a simple one.

Generally, it is good to narrow down the individuals you wish to interview to 3-5. This is a good amount that still allows for direct comparison with meaningful results and means that more time can be spent compiling a meaningful job description and specification to better attract more suitable candidates.

In addition to this, screening tools such as personality and aptitude tests can be utilised to narrow down the selection even further with results more suited to desired need. This also means employers can make a more informed decision on hiring for culture add vs culture fit and how the candidates will benefit the organisation in question.

Overall, there is no real way of knowing how many individuals to interview for a job opportunity. In truth it depends on the job opening itself; some job opportunities may attract more applicants than others and, in some instances may require more than just 1 hire. Each opportunity presents its own unique challenges which is why it is important to identify exactly what you are looking for from the onset and to also consider the benefits and disadvantages of interviewing more than 5 people as opposed to interviewing less.

Using the tools you have, not the ones you want.

I was having a discussion with a colleague this week who was having trouble with a new database they have been using for their job. A substantial amount of money had been spent on a sourcing platform which was marketed to us on the basis that it would make the process of finding associates for our clients quicker and more efficient without sacrificing quality control for the process overall. Although many of the functions of the new database worked as well as expected, many notable elements of the programme, such as the messaging function and the interface, were not an immediate “fit” with the way we had previously gone about sourcing associates online.

It may be tempting in a situation such as this to go back to square one, write off your new purchase as a bad investment and return to the less developed methods you had being using to do business before. However, it would be wiser to avoid going down that route.

When it comes to performing a task or project, we all have our own methodology and procedures, some of which we have developed and consolidated over years in the business. Even when circumstances change around us, be it new technology, new opportunities, or radical changes in the marketplace, we often prefer to cling religiously to our own working habits. When innovative tools and products that could make our jobs easier do become available, we welcome them, but we tend to only take to them if they can be easily tailored to the existing processes through which we work.

But would it not make more sense to reshape our work to the tools we have available to do it?

Always expecting the systems we use for business to suit us perfectly can always be expected to fail. If we force any product or database, be it a messaging platform, a LinkedIn product or a CRM, to suit our business needs without adapting to them ourselves then we will only end up getting frustrated when these tools don’t comply with our preconceived notions of what “works”. This will only make us less efficient and productive at work. Being adaptable is a necessary trait in any line of work, if we encounter a situation where established business processes don’t fit with the available infrastructure, it’s up to us work within the parameters that we can given the tools available.

We all like work to be routine, safe and familiar, but if we allow ourselves to be more open-minded with new ideas and products, we may find that a little flexibility is no bad thing.

The Art of the Middleman

From brokers and lawyers to head-hunters, agents and consultants, and the modern economy is awash with “middlemen”. It’s a word that is often used derisively, but in a market largely defined by its almost endless choice and unlimited demand, the ability to facilitate the relationship between supplier and customer remains a vital function within almost all sectors.
To be an intermediary and mediator, to facilitate and enable transactions, clearly requires a unique and crucial skillset. But how are these skills best applied? What separates individuals who struggle as a central link in the business chain to those who flourish?

Quality not quantity.

To put it simply, A middleman’s value is derived from the value of the relationship they can generate between the supplier and end-user, and the volume of these relationships they can cultivate. The most successful third-party relationships however are built upon trust. Whilst a reputation for supplying a trusted service at a high volume can be useful, the long-term viability of providing a high-quality boutique service for returning customers is self-evident, as there is room for a more comprehensive relationship between facilitators, end-users and suppliers to develop.
There is often a tendency in business to reach for a large quantity of deals made and relationships brokered to drive profits. However, this can repeatedly come at the expense of cultivating a relationship which will yield loyalty and repeat business. The best business-to-business partnerships should be more than just transactional.

The “intangibles” that underpin continuous relationships.

There’s a reason retained executive search companies, and not contingency firms, are considered the gold standard of recruitment. Any intermediary actor is largely valued on their expertise and ability to address an end-user’s business needs. But these needs are usually complex, not immediately obvious and often not entirely known to the client themselves, especially in high-stake transactions. Individuals who can retain the services of their client over a long period are only able to do so because of this greater appreciation of the depth of their client’s needs. This involves appreciating the intangible variables that may affect the circumstances of a business partnership. Too often when brokering a deal or relationship, we tend to focus solely on fundamentals such price, margin and contract length, with little consideration for other needs that are not as fundamental but also of interest to the client. The skill here is not only to be in possession of excellent market knowledge so that you can identify trends and contingencies that should be considered, but also a measure of strategic and emotional intelligence.

Keeping an ear on both sides of the table.

Facilitating a relationship in this sense requires a considerable measure of neutrality. Being a middleman invariably involves bringing two parties together for the purposes of negotiation, but it is not enough to merely perform the function of a bridge between two parties. The middleman that survives is the one who has something to offer well beyond the making of introductions. Crucially, professionals must consider their suppliers and resource-holders as clients just as much as the end-user. The aim of an intermediary party should not only be to facilitate discussions between the two camps but also to effectually manage them. the needs of the supplier should not be overly side-lined to suit the preferences of the end-user, so the aim of the intermediary should always be to “tease out” an arrangement or outcome that suits both sides.

Could outsourcers benefit from mediation?

It hasn’t been the most successful couple of weeks for Outsourcers.

At one point last week, Interserve’s share price had dropped to 29p, the lowest in over 30 years. Interserve have also been forced by investors to pull out of the consortium heading the expansion of Durham University, as well as being fined for numerous safety blunders at an animal testing site in Weybridge. Allied healthcare has also run into trouble recently, being forced to sell off its remaining contracts to other providers in order to stay afloat. Meanwhile, Capita have come under increasing scrutiny following a critical mishandling of cervical screening tests.

At this point, so fast on the heels of Carillion’s collapse, trust between the outsourcing industry and their clients are at perhaps their lowest ever point.

So how can this trust be won back?

It could be argued that the breakdown in the relationship between outsourcers and the public sector can in large part be put down to both parties negotiating without possessing a comprehensive understanding of each other’s motives and needs, thus leading to contractual and financial difficulties which disrupted the relationship.

Take the case of Carillion. From the government’s perspective, Carillion represented a stable support services partner with a successful track record. PFI contracts were awarded to them on the understanding that they were a financially viable, low-risk partner that could be relied upon to deliver a high-quality service. For Carillion, outsourcing and public sector contracts represented a vital revenue stream and an opportunity to keep their teams and subcontractors busy.

But crucially, these deals were negotiated with little regard for the viability of the long-term business relationships underpinning them. When awarding contracts to bidders, government departments would often prioritise cost over the quality of service and accept bids well below the cost of the service provision itself. For their part, firms such as Carillion and Interserve have spent millions renegotiating on deals where they only maintained either very small or negative margins.
Whilst we could diagnose the problem as one of poor negotiation, could the practice of negotiation itself be at the heart of dysfunctional business relationships?

Negotiation, when performed solely as a settlement or dispute resolution between two parties, can easily result in a zero-sum game, where one party’s needs are often side-lined in favour of the others. In any binary negotiation, the process of starting from an entrenched position and gradually meeting in the middle invariably results with one party gaining the upper hand over the other in the final terms of the settlement. Not only does this strain the trust in the relationship, but the constant need for expensive renegotiations and resettlements as problems arise render it inefficient and unproductive.

When such large contracts, often tied to substantial financial risk, must be enacted, the bidding process could benefit greatly from a mediating neutral third party.

Recently, MyFM enacted the role of facilitator in discussions which had to resolve very similar conflicts to those that have plagued outsourcers, a bidding party seeking to protect their margins and an end-user that prioritised cost. As a neutral broker, the mediating party has knowledge of what each side’s primary needs and requirements are, you have a greater understanding of which cards each side are playing close to their chest and what they will be willing and unwilling to compromise on. Through unique market knowledge, you often understand your client’s desires better than they do.

In this case, mediation allowed us to address the concerns of both sides of the table and find a solution that synthesised the needs of each party without either one compromising on their core requirements from the deal.

Instead of pursuing a price that would eat into the service provider’s margin, we encouraged a settlement in which the end user paid an acceptable price for the service, whilst also encouraging an agreement on price by encouraging more appropriate methods of reducing costs, such as providing a more efficient service.

If it is true that conflict largely arises from misunderstanding, then using mediators, with their clear grasp of respective priorities and ability to identify actions that resolve conflict, presents a scalable, elegant solution to all high-stakes negotiators.