Aspects of procurement from an FM perspective


Mike Packham of BWA highlights the key points from the BIFM’s recent Good Practice Guide to FM Procurement

I have been prompted (cajoled might be a better word) to put pen to paper on the BIFM’s recent publication of their Good Practice Guide to FM Procurement. The guide is a good read and contains valuable advice about the processes and procedures that can be employed to ensure a positive outcome to any procurement exercise.

Here, I have highlighted a few key points, tempered by my own procurement experiences, as follows:

The procurement dept – As a result of the recent recession, with its seemingly unending downward pressure on cost base, procurement departments seem to reign supreme in some organisations. This can make it difficult for us in FM, where the quality/performance of the product or service being procured is often as important as its cost. All I can say here is that some of the most successful such exercises that I have undertaken have involved FM and procurement working in tandem and drawing on the respective skill-sets of each other. Let us not forget either the valuable inputs from the other support services – HR, legal, finance, H&S, etc.

The stakeholders – There is a subtle difference between what our stakeholders need us to provide and what we in FM perceive their need to be. To avoid any unnecessary disconnect, why not ask them? (Remembering of course that stakeholders’ “needs” and “wants” are two totally different concepts). Focus groups and mechanisms such as “lessons learned” workshops can help to ensure that specifications and SLA’s are fully representative of the FM services that our organisations need to be provided to them.

Input versus output-based specification – The arguments for and against one or the other from the client’s perspective are well researched vis-a-vis risk transfer and the like. However, similar considerations need to be thought through in terms of the service provider. There is very little point in defining the specification/SLA in output terms if the local service provider market is unfamiliar with this concept. By way of example, my practice recently undertook a procurement exercise in Southern Africa where the FM industry was in its infancy and as a result we needed to adopt a “tell them what to do, how and when” type approach.

Core versus non-core – Again, the pros and cons from the client’s perspective are well understood. However, it is worth taking a step back to consider the service provider’s position. In essence, there is very little point in asking a service provider to bid for something that is not one of their “core” services or within their geographic areas of operation; to do so is to invite an addition to cover risk, which will almost inevitably translate into a higher bid return figure.

Asset register – Clearly, the existence of an accurate asset register is critical in the context of the provision of a maintenance service – regardless of whether we are looking to put in place a full PPM regime or simply one that provides statutory compliance. I have lost count of the number of times I have been reassured that the asset register is fully up to date and accurate only for the incoming service provider to immediately start to pull it to pieces (and, of course, find reasons to increase the bid price in the process). I am of the opinion, therefore, that there is a need for the asset register to be validated as part of the overall mobilisation process. Who carries this out I do not think matters too much – it could be the client, the service provider or indeed perhaps better still, an independent third party – just so long as both parties start out with a common understanding of the assets and their condition.

Mid-bid interviews – Not all client organisations are amenable to holding these, but to my mind the time and effort involved in arranging them is well worth it. In my practice, we typically aim to schedule these for the end of week one or during week two of the bid period. The objective is two-fold:

  • To enable the client and prospective service providers to meet (and ask questions) in a relatively informal environment – both parties have told me that they find this really useful.
  • To bring your bid requirement to the top of the service providers’ list of bid submissions (effectively forcing them to read the bid document much sooner than might otherwise be the case).

Mobilisation/antecedent period – I would point readers in the direction of BS8892:2014, Transitional Management for facility-related services. This provides a useful check-list of all of the activities that need to take place during the mobilisation/antecedent period. As such, we include compliance with its various processes and procedure as a standard part of any procurement documentation that we produce.

The above commentary summarises just some of the experience gained from my many years of involvement in the procurement of FM products and services. The new BIFM Good Practice Guide to FM Procurement pulls all of this – and more – together in one place. I suggest you give it a read.


Mike Packham


BWA (Europe)

Tel: +44 (0)208 460 1111


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