The new facilities management contract had finally been signed and the FM provider started delivering the service. It was a real step away froth norm for the company. The contract was an output based service contract service, meaning that the deliverables had been agreed but not the method of delivery.

The contract didn’t get off to a great start. No-one from either side of the contract had been involved in this type of performance based contract before and so each side had different expectations of what that really meant. Frustrations ran high and heated discussions started to take place around the company.

The business was upset because, in their eyes. the supply chain hadn’t put together a workable solution, and the supplier was upset because they felt that supply chain wasn’t acknowledging that the business was putting unreasonable expectations on them. Supply chain felt like piggy in the middle and couldn’t see a way to satisfy both parties.

As the supply chain continuous improvement coordinator I was tasked to work with our Facilities Manager and the service provider to develop a solution that would result in both sides of the contract working together to ensure the service met the business needs.

This was the first time I had worked in facilities management, so there was a lot to learn. At first I didn’t know where to start. I felt overwhelmed and could feel the butterflies dancing around in my stomach.

But it was a great opportunity. I had been working with the business on general continuous improvement activities, but this would be the first time working with an external supplier. It felt like it would be a great challenge, and at the same time a fantastic learning opportunity.

I know that a culture of continuous improvement is important to drive efficiencies and increase the effectiveness of a business and this was my chance to help spread that message so that we could work with our suppliers to be more productive together.

Designing the assessment process


So I sat and thought about what I would need to do to carry out the activity. This is where my previous role as Planning Manager held me in good stead. I created a plan of everything I needed to know and what things I thought I would have to do to achieve my goal of improving the service provision by our supply partner.

I started by getting to know the contract. What had been agreed between the 2 parties, who had been involved from both sides and why we had decided upon this type of contract. Then I spoke with the supplier, trying to understand what their view of the contractual arrangements were.

And this is where the biggest problem was. There had been photos taken and agreed to at the beginning of the contract of the standards that should be met at all times. Although the service provider had agreed to these standards, their interpretation of them was different than ours.

They didn’t feel that it was reasonable for us to expect everywhere to be spotless at all times, when the buildings were being used 24/7, that as long as they cleaned them on a rota, that they were fulfilling their contract. The contract was costing the business units more than the previous contract and so they were expecting standards to be higher.

As much as we talked around the subject and tried to get each side to understand where the others were coming from, relationships become more and more strained.

So we moved to the next stage, understanding the processes that the supplier was using to deliver the service and analysing where in the delivery that the contract wasn’t performing.

From this we worked with the supplier to create a self assessment process that they could use to monitor how they were doing and use this to demonstrate to the business units that they were fulfilling their contractual obligations.

At first we worked with them to ensure they understood the standards expected by the business. If there was evidence that something hadn’t been cleaned then we would work with the supplier to develop their personnel. We used a traffic light system to demonstrate where they were meeting their obligations, and where they need to improve.

We didn’t use the report to beat the supplier over the head, but instead we used it as a continuous improvement tool. We used it to develop the relationship between the supplier and the business units, to create dialogue between the 2 parties. We talked through our findings and showed the business where they were making the contract impossible to fulfil.

We created an environment where both sides could get involved in reasoned arguments as to the changes that needed to take place by understanding the problem from the others point of view. Relationships improved and the teething problems started to dissipate.

Developing the culture of continuous improvement


Once the service provider was comfortable with the expected standards and how the self assessment process worked, we handed it over to them on the understanding that they would complete quarterly self assessments and provide the findings to the Contract Manager as evidence they were fulfilling their contractual arrangements.

The business was really happy with the results and with the process of self assessment and once the process was embedded within the facilities contract, we rolled out the process to other service providers to help drive a culture of continuous improvement within the supply chain

How do you make sure that your processes are robust?  Do you review your business regularly to make sure that you remain competitive? What steps do you take to implement a culture of continuous improvement and how do you ensure that everyone feels part of the solution, rather than the problem?

If you need help and support with designing an assessment process, or would like someone to carry out the process for you, please book a free 30 minute discovery call, or drop me a line and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible