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How To Balance Outsourcing and In-House Staff


When asked to do more with less, facility departments often take a hard look at outsourcing. The answer lies in fine-tuning the balance between in-house employees and outsourced workers. For an article covering the results of the 2014 FM Pulse survey, Angela Maas spoke with several facility managers to find out what their strategies are around using outsourcing to find the right balance between in-house staff and outsourced service providers.

At Western Michigan, Peter Strazdas, associate vice president of facilities management, says tough economic times led to fresh thinking that included staffing modifications. "Some levels of outsourcing were implemented. Lower skilled jobs that had higher wages or specialty and expensive equipment tasks — such as snow plowing — were typical in-house job functions that were reviewed," says Strazdas. "In a collective bargaining environment, both sides of the table came closer to find solutions to lower costs and improve service."

The New York City Department of Education also has looked to staffing to increase effectiveness. "The balance of trade staff and contractors wasn't where it needed to be," says John Shea, CEO of the division of school facilities. We had more people than we needed, and we were not using them effectively." Facility managers shouldn't "be afraid to take a real hard look at the business" and come to the conclusion that "maybe we do have too many people here." That's not to say that facilities departments should be giving money back; instead, it's about finding places where those funds could be better spent.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has long outsourced a lot of the facilities duties to a property management company that has "efficient, well-trained" employees and low turnover. "It is a well-tuned operation where the employees don't change every two years," says Rob Pearlman, head, country office real estate/facilities management. "We as an owner have had a very strong collaborative partner; we have a solid relationship with that group and their team. Our particular facilities group is miniscule, with a limited number of staff. We leverage them for strategic thinking and capabilities rather than implementation of the work themselves."

This kind of thinking is "different than if someone says, 'We're getting rid of our staff and replacing them with an outsourced company,'" Pearlman points out. "Significant policy decision making stayed with our own staff, but there were fewer people."

To read more about the FM Pulse survey, go to https://www.facilitiesnet.com/15289BOM

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