Innovation… an obligation for us, not an option!

It’s amazing how many articles, posts, comments etc… you name it, have the words CHANGE, INNOVATION and FACILITIES MANAGEMENT in them.  But if you reflect on it, it’s certainly to be expected.

The FM industry has been through a period where, more than ever before, clients have been looking for cutting costs, and whilst this hasn’t stopped exactly, the focus has more recently shifted more towards bringing new ideas.

And for FM providers that word ideas calls for continuous innovation.  We believe suppliers to FM providers should be coming up with these new ideas constantly.

This isn’t a new concept.  Some of the largest corporations in the world today pay tribute to how relationships with innovative suppliers helped them in their journey to success.  Jonathan O’Brien puts this very well in his article on unlocking supplier innovation [www.cips.org, Fiver barriers to supplier innovation …and five ways to unlock it].  His case study uses Apple which is often associated with innovation but it can happen just as easily in any industry.  Paul Teague also points out in his article that supplier innovation is one of the most effective and efficient ways of innovating [www.procurementleaders.com, Procurement Must Champion Supplier Innovation].

We believe this could, and should, happen much more in the FM industry.

In recent years, studies have shown that more companies are outsourcing their FM.  These companies are looking to one provider, in other words looking for “total FM ability”, and FM providers are being scored on cost (obviously) but also innovation.

For a provider working on larger national contracts, this means they need to:

  1. Be able to provide total FM solutions, i.e. across all services.
  2. They need to provide these at good value for money i.e. more efficiently.
  3. More importantly, they need to bring new ideas to the table i.e. innovate.

The big question is, how can an FM provider be more efficient and innovate across a broad spectrum of services?

Quite rightly, experts in each field are often employed to head up different departments such as cleaning and security.

But taking a mobile engineer team that maintains the fabric, electrical, gas, heating and other hard FM, it can often be difficult to:

–          Get ideas from the coal-face on how to change procedures for the better.

–          Ensure every engineer has the expertise to carry out all their jobs across different services.

–          Increase efficiency across the workforce.

This is one area where suppliers could and, in our opinion, should help.  Suppliers to facilities managers should be proactively coming up with new ideas on how to add value, continuously improve and even disrupt the present way of doing things.

This is not an option; it is an obligation we as suppliers have to our customers, facilities managers.

In its most basic form suppliers should give expert support.  For instance, if engineers on a site need help rewiring a ballast, what the best luminaire is for an application or which emergency control gear should be used for a specific luminaire, the helpdesk at RLT Onsite is manned by knowledgeable experts on lighting who can give help immediately and ensure the engineer can complete the job.

For new projects, if retail store asks one of our clients the best LED solution for a new refit, RLT Onsite has a project team who can produce lighting designs and a network of manufacturers who can bespoke manufacture for specific applications.

And for proactive innovation, RLT Onsite will bring to the table new ideas for our clients on how they can help their clients in saving energy, streamline their operations and reduce costs.  Not only that, RLT Onsite continues to invest in new technology to continuously make life easier for our clients [RLT Group Mission Statement].

FM companies are entitled to this and need this support, expertise and innovation from suppliers more than ever before, whatever the products or service provided, as the FM industry continues to change.  Where it happens, there is success as shown by the recent BIFM Awards article, Making change pay.

Suppliers to the FM industry should be partners, working as a team with facilities managers for the benefit of their clients.  There must be a high level of trust and a continuous energetic drive to do better, to innovate and to add value.

These supplier partnerships are what fuel real change and success in the FM industry.


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