Challenging times force people to think differently. Right now, anyone involved in business decisions has to look closely at their choices of products, services and suppliers – and review their options to ensure they are maximising efficiencies.
This tough economic environment calls upon us all to focus on areas not even looked at in the past, to see if there are fresh ways of doing things or new product and service options that will improve our competitiveness.
That’s why Office Depot hosted its first Strategic Thinking Forum at London’s Vinopolis in May 2012. This Strategy Day was hosted by TV presenter Kate Silverton and attracted nearly 100 professionals to discuss ways for Procurement and Facilities Management teams to work closer together.
Former cabinet minister Lord Andrew Adonis told the Forum that procurement was now at the top of every department’s agenda as it has a direct ability to influence cost savings:
“Austerity forces us to think about things and the design of our services in ways we have never done before. Procurement is on the radar of all of us like never before – me included. As a Minister, my Permanent Secretary chaired procurement meetings. I can tell you that, if I were one [a Minister] today, then it would be me!”
Concern was raised about whether a constant focus on costs could have a negative impact on best practice and long-term strategy. Too narrow a focus might result in an organisation becoming penny-wise and yet pound-foolish. Petty cost-cutting alone can lead organisations to lose sight of the big picture of achieving growth through judicious investment.
A sensible and measured approach, where the quality and delivery of services and products in respect to cost is carefully calculated, will succeed in enhancing performance, and this is where Procurement and FM need to pull together to achieve a common goal.
Thirty-five Facilities Managers who are making a difference in their chosen profession were recognised earlier this year at a special reception in London. FM World magazine’s Rising Stars of FM event, sponsored by Office Depot, took place at the imposing 46-floor, 230 metre high Heron Tower in the City of London.
So what qualifies you as a rising star in the world of FM? Well, according to the readers of FM World, a capacity to think your way out of complex or suddenly manifesting situations is of major importance. So is an ability to communicate at board level as well as to customers and clients.
Nearly a quarter of respondents cited the ability to form close working relationships as more important than all bar one other attribute.
The number one attribute, cited by more than half of the respondents, was an ‘ability to formulate and introduce innovative working models’, especially the ability to see an innovation through from conception of the idea to delivery of the solution.
Thinking on your feet is one thing but seeing a project through to completion is quite another! Putting theory into practice and doing the hard work of making an idea come to fruition is the major achievement, so any rising star needs to roll their sleeves up to achieve the heights.
The Rising Stars were interviewed during the Heron Tower event. The answers they gave are here for you to view on the following video clips.
Earlier this year, Procurement and FM professionals took part in a roundtable event sponsored by Office Depot to find out what the two functions really think of each other. You can read the full story online, but here is a summary of the discussions together with just some of their comments…
It was clear that both Procurement and FM need to establish trust and develop greater understanding to foster closer and more rewarding relationships.
Communication and relationship building were also seen to be key. There is a need for the two parties to talk more about their complementary roles, with a requirement for both functions to engage at an earlier stage in proceedings.
As Les O’Gorman, head of facilities at UCB Celltech, commented:
“Ninety per cent of our services are not commoditised, they are people-driven. We should involve procurement colleagues more in what we do as a business partner, not wait until there’s a tender exercise. Get them on board early to understand your business and the way you work.”
Lucy Jeynes, MD of Larch Consulting, spoke on similar lines: “Buyers need to appreciate that a lot of the FM services are not commodities, they need to be specified and evaluated more carefully.”
It’s also good to remind people that the financial cost of a product or service isn’t necessarily the same as its total value.
Jason Cousins, Premises and Facilities Director of Olswang, stated:
“You still need an element of comparing apples with apples. Procurement people like to be able to say: ‘This is the cheapest’. It’s okay putting the cheapest in, but can they deliver what you want?”
Matthew Smith, Head of Procurement at Office Depot, added:
“Most of us understand there is much more to a tender than just cost, for example quality and service delivery. I don’t think cheap as chips exists any more – we are all a bit more sophisticated.”
He also summed up the benefits of a closer working relationship between Procurement and FM: “If you get a shared understanding and goal alignment, it should be a marriage made in heaven”.
We’re leading the way in sourcing and supplying products and services to support and enhance your day-to-day business delivering increased efficiencies, greater cost control and more convenience, whatever and wherever your ‘office’ may be.
Let’s talk about how Office Depot can take care of your business…