Survey: Outsourcing an Option for Facility Managers During Recession

By Maryellen Lo Bosco  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Facility Managers Say More Than Cost Cutting Needed During DownturnPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Survey: Facility Managers Had to Take Hard Look at SpendingPt. 4: Communication Essential to Managing Facilities During Downturn

The facility management team at ADP has also reduced its U.S. staff, according to Art Elman, vice president of corporate real estate and facilities. "We reduced headcount by about 10 percent," Elman says, but the reductions were "mostly organic," through retirement or normal attrition. A slowdown on new hiring was also instituted as the company studied its true staffing needs. "We've eased up on that this year," Elman says. Most significantly, the company radically changed the way it handles human resources when it began outsourcing its facilities management about two-and-a-half years ago. ADP retained six people in-house. Previously, more than 200 decentralized staff worked in ADP's U.S. buildings, where each facility was fairly independent.

"The good news is that for our associates who work in our buildings, [the transition] was almost invisible. To the people who got outsourced, it was major," says Elman. The employees, as well as outside service providers — for example, the window washing company — switched their employer from ADP to the outsourcing firm. "Our first thought had been to consolidate [FM] within our own organization," Elman says, "but we didn't have the tools in house, and it wasn't our primary expertise." ADP instead decided to look for a company with better tools to manage facilities operations. Putting all of FM under the outsourcing provider's umbrella has improved management, consolidated purchasing and provided access to intelligence on a broader scale. The staff cuts, together with outsourcing, have allowed ADP to reduce facility management expenses by 7 percent.

Not surprisingly, opinion on the "new normal" was mixed. For "shining stars," the change has created an additional career path within the outsourcing firm and allowed managers to become part of a group that specializes in what they do. But everyone had to stretch a little more, and there were a few who opted to quit or retire. "Some people bought into the fact that it was a career move, but some others said 'it's time for me to go,'" Elman says.

Overall, outsourcing has been a success. ADP still has more bumps in the road ahead, says Elman, but facility management is now more tightly controlled and uses more sophisticated tools to purchase and better metrics to determine staffing. Currently the company is focused on improving the quality of services and facility reliability and may even adjust some budgets upwards.

FM Careers: Who Delayed Retirement

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Fewer Staff Cuts

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  posted on 9/16/2011   Article Use Policy

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