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Non-core but vital – making good decisions on support services

24 July 2008

A new guide for directors offers advice on making strategic decisions about the delivery of facilities management services to organisations in every sector of the economy.

Faced with economic indicators suggesting a slow, if not recessionary, market for business and public enterprise, many organisations will prepare for the downturn by attacking ‘costs’. Activities seen as not “core” to the business are a legitimate target, but hasty decisions on services such as security, cleaning, maintenance and catering can come back to bite.

‘Inside Out’ is a new guide for directors on the choices available to them for the delivery of facilities management (FM) services such as security, cleaning, maintenance, reception, mailroom, reprographics and many others that support the activities of the ‘core’ business.

Developed by Action FM, a group of organisations in the FM sector dedicated to promoting the strengths, benefits and opportunities of well delivered facilities management, Inside Out does not suggest that either in-house or outsourced FM provision is ‘right’.

Rather, it highlights the importance of understanding fully the impact such a decision can have on the core business of the organisation. If insufficient time and resource is invested in ensuring that the chosen model is the right one for the organisation, the results can be disastrous.

Failure to think strategically about sourcing can result in a “pendulum effect by which a decision to outsource FM services is followed at the end of a contract term by a decision to bring some or all of the services back in house – followed later by another review and decision to outsource. This cycle indicates a failure in the way the chosen model of service delivery is introduced and managed.”

Whilst facilities management services might be seen by some as an ‘easy’ target for cost cutting, Action FM warns that “An ill prepared approach will result in long-term difficulty, disruption and costs. The impact of failure always remains with the client, whether or not the cost of failure has been shared with others.”

Facilities management delivers ‘non-core’ services to organisations, but it is also at the ‘heart’ of all businesses in every sector of the economy and public service. Its expertise and the skills of its personnel are vital to the delivery of cost effective, efficient and flexible working environments. FM is increasingly important in maintaining and taking forward environmental, energy reduction and corporate social responsibility agendas.

The Inside Out guide offers a simple 12 point decision map for directors, to help ensure that they make good decisions that not only prepare their organisations for the downturn but also make them fit to benefit when the market upturn comes.

Inside Out is available as a free download from

ActionFM is supported by

 Asset Skills
 British Institute of Facilities Management
 Business Services Association
 Chartered Institute of Building
 Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, FM Group
 Facilities Management Association
 Institute of Administrative Management
 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, FM Faculty
 The FMA Young Managers Forum.

The group brings all facets of the sector together to work for the sole benefit of providing one voice. A number of foundation stones were put in place at the outset:

 No one body will have greater rights than any other
 Decisions will be made by consensus
 There are no demarcation lines
 Everyone at the table will work for the benefit of the whole to raise awareness of FM, particularly within the business community
 FM includes all individuals and services whether in-house or contract (outsourced).

For more information visit

Or contact Derek Paxman on
or Elliott Chase on 020 7722-3820 or

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