Outsourcing Benefits Require Targeted Application

  October 7, 2013

Outsourcing was once a source of significant anxiety for internal facilities management teams, but the pendulum has swung in the other direction in the current climate of tightly constrained budgets and lower in-house staffing levels. Still, outsourcing is a tactic to be applied with precision to yield the highest benefit.

In a roundtable discussion with Facility Maintenance Decisions, three facility managers discuss some of their experience with outsourcing. The primary benefits of outsourcing some of their services for them are savings and flexibility. Funds can be applied in a targeted as-needed manner, which also shields them from getting appropriated by other needs, so certain tasks like mowing lawns get done in a timely fashion.

The procurement and specification of outsourced services is sometimes the hardest part, the managers say. This is due to a combination of reduced workforce elsewhere in the company, which makes the facilities department responsible for writing the contract. Following internal protocols for legal reviews and the like can also slow things down. However, more and more organizations are posting their bid and proposal documents online, which can be a benefit to other FM organizations in shaping their own documents.

Other challenges have to do with the outsourced service providers. With many companies clamoring to provide janitorial service, HVAC service, etc., it falls on the facility manager to properly vet the candidates to make sure they can actually deliver on their claims. Making sure scope of work is clear is part of making sure all parties can meet expectations.

Another challenge managers point to is that, unlike full-time staff, outsourced service providers are there to do a specific and delineated task. There is not the flexibility to pull them onto other projects, at least not without new contract negotiations. The silver lining there is that, because they are hired to do a specific set of tasks, if the outsourced service provider is not performing to expectations, it is much easier to simply replace them.

Read the full roundtable here.


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