In 2019, the battle of choice between insourcing/outsourcing remains a tricky path for business owners to navigate within the world of FM. Since the collapse of Carillion, the issues of trust, transparency and reliability all took a considerable hit, and with recent stories hitting the press from other leading industry names, the dark cloud hanging over outsourcing doesn't seem to be lifting any time soon.
Where does the battle lay?
The industry's most notable players figures are having to work tenfold to prove their worth at a time when trust is a rarity. Meanwhile SMEs and more boutique, specialist agencies are having to fight to prove themselves in terms of personability and value for money, all while large corporates crack down on their own internal teams to ensure optimum value for money with minimum expenditure. These challenges are far from unique to the facilities management sector, however. All walks of client organisations are re-evaluating their outsourced services and putting pressure on service providers to devise new services and innovative delivery methods (bearing in mind increasing demand for ethical and sustainable consciousness). And with these adaptations comes market disruption, which makes the noise that brands are looking for.
The business areas which can be outsourced now seem limitless. From high-end bespoke cleaning services and round-the-clock security/site management, through to waste management and recycling, there is a unique opportunity for service providers to demonstrate their value in 2019. An ongoing issue, however, which those in FM find themselves battling, is how to improve and present our offerings, when the very nature of the industry requires us to be hidden, or at least in the background. We are known as the 'Cinderella' profession, as many of our people on the ground are not 'meant' to be seen. Entrances are just meant to be clean; catering is just meant to be served; and waste is expected to be collected, without causing mess or a smell.
In an industry where the best way to deliver products and services is to effectively be invisible, how can we as companies know if our methods are working? Well, through outsourcing – some may argue.
Variety, freedom-of-choice, flexibility, they're all key words within our sector today. So, if you as a business owner or member of management approach a department stating: “here is X amount of budget, we'd like you to look into different delivery methods for Y and Z", that opens up an exciting new opportunity for said staff members to research and present new routes. And that is where outsourcing may come in. There are considerable pros to this – you place trust in experts which specialise in a specific field; it's (supposedly) alleviates pressure from your own teams, allowing them to concentrate on other business matters (while hopefully cutting costs); and it broadens relationships with suppliers to deliver exceptional service for clients. On the other hand, however, insourcing has plenty of its own benefits:it enables greater control for the business by being self-managed; it utilises internal resources; provides more work opportunities to develop and expand from within; and arguably allows for greater transparency between contract holders.
So, at a time when finding 'value' is at the heart of every business decision, how does the future look? Organisations are being forced to adjust rapidly to a multitude of social and political changes, whilst simultaneously attempting to maintain an element of 'status quo'. If the FM industry does not grab these opportunities promptly, a new generation of service providers whose efforts aim for value, flexibility and high-quality user experience will take it from them.