“Do the same thing over and over and expect different results” [Albert Einstein]
With the huge changes in the FM industry, different results are certainly expected. The question is, who is providing the different ways of doing things?
There is no doubt that innovation in FM is often talked about, even seminars dedicated to the subject. The question is how often it is organised in such a way as to really provide end user results. It holds huge potential for reducing costs and increasing efficiencies.
What can we innovate with?
The cost of labour is one of the largest costs associated with FM. It’s not rocket science to realise that by maximising labour productivity, costs will reduce and efficiencies will increase. A simple way to look at this is to simply write down the process from initiation of a job to completion. Where do errors come in? What can go wrong? How can we work together with clients and suppliers as one team?
Who can we innovate with?
Another great question but one that is so often overlooked. Where innovation is happening, it is often bounded by the company itself. Best practices and Centre of Excellence systems look at how they can adopt what is working within the company and replicate success. It’s a great idea. However, to innovate even further, the answer lies in working with suppliers. There are very few examples of this happening in the FM industry, but where it does, the results are astounding.
How is working with suppliers on service delivery so successful?
I remember being at a seminar once where a speaker told a great story. They bought large cheeses from a manufacturer packed in air-tight boxes. When they arrived, they unwrapped the cheese, cut it into smaller blocks, re-wrapped it and sent it out to their customers with other products. Customers were asking for better prices and they were being squeezed in the marketplace. They spoke to their supplier and realised that the supplier increased their costs by wrapping the cheese, only for them to unwrap it again when it was delivered. They came up with a solution. The cheeses would be sent in the air-tight boxes as usual, but unwrapped. This cut out a process and allowed them to reduce their price. Once it arrived, they no longer needed to unwrap reducing costs further.
What could your suppliers do to streamline your operations? How can your suppliers help you to maximise engineer time spent on site? How can you reduce waste? How can your suppliers deliver quicker, more direct, just-in-time? Could they provide tools to reduce communication errors? The list goes on…
Innovation is a huge topic, but one thing is for sure. The industry is changing faster than ever and doing something different is more critical than ever before. Working with and innovating with your suppliers is only one area, but I believe it’s one where many facilities managers could win quick and win big.