Own it, don’t lose it.

    According to the most recent Facilities Management UK Market Outlook from business advisory firm BDO, the outsourcing of everyday activities required for businesses to function has led to the growth of a £11.9 billion facilities management (“FM”) market in the UK. Other research, released prior to the Carillion collapse, suggests the market will continue to grow. That said, in the aftermath of Carillion – and in the face of current profit warnings concerning other major players – FM outsourcing is most definitely under the microscope.

    As a result of the ongoing Carillion crisis, FM service providers and their clients are acutely aware of the consequences when things go wrong. In addition to owing businesses of all shapes and sizes circa £1.5 billion, Carillion also carries a pensions deficit of £600 million. Hundreds of jobs have been axed following the demise of the construction giant, and many other businesses are suffering from the fall-out – many are still trying to fill a Carillion-sized hole to ensure outstanding projects get completed.

    The lessons learned tend to focus on the risks of sacrificing quality for the best price, not to mention the questionable procurement process associated with the larger public-sector property portfolios. But there’s been little assessment of what may have happened to the tsunami of business-critical customer data since the liquidation of one of the UK’s largest construction firms.

    FM has become more data-rich than ever before. And over the past few years, data analytics has moved from out of the wings, onto the stage and into the spotlight, because an increasing number of organisations recognise the key role data plays when it comes to making more informed decisions. The proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices and big data are offering FM teams the opportunity to collate and harness a flood of financial data, supply chain and procurement data, human resources data, environmental data, estates data, maintenance operations data (the list goes on!) that will, in turn, enable them to roll out a whole host of value-enhancing strategies.

    Whilst is clear that FM service providers recognise data’s power and are leveraging technology to deliver contracts more efficiently, the extent to which they share this insight with customers is under their control. If a company doesn’t have full access to its FM data, it’s not going to be in a position to optimise efficiency. If or when the time comes to change service provider (or in the eventuality of a service provider collapsing), organisations can potentially lose years’ worth of valuable asset, not to mention supplier and compliance, data. The alternative is that they face a costly exercise to extract and import their data into a new system.

    My view is that the end-user should always be in control of their own data, regardless of whether they chose to in-source or outsource the management of their maintenance. Own it, don’t lose it.

    One of our Australian retail customers has bought into the benefits of owning its own data. They ended the contract with their service provider (re-hiring them as a major contractor), brought the ownership and management of their FM data in-house, and in the process made significant financial savings. This move has given them complete control of their FM and the flexibility to change contractor as needed.

    The main purpose of data – or any information come to that – is to assist decision-making.

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