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Hall of Fame – Partners centralise estate

31 July 2012

The relationship between OCS and Northgate is a good example of how a true partnership can produce high quality, cost effective solutions and demonstrate the flexible working that is required to meet the client’s needs. The partnership won the Partners in FM – Corporate category in the 2011 PFM Awards.

Northgate Information Solutions Limited provides specialist software, outsourcing and information technology services to the human resources, local government, education and public safety markets. Since its formation in 1969 Northgate has grown to a point where it currently employs over 12,000 employees and operates in 46 countries across five continents.

Prior to 2008 the provision of hard and soft facilities services throughout the UK was managed in a rather piecemeal manner, mainly due to the Northgate’s growth through many acquisitions during the early years of the 21st century.

Northgate recognised the workload and cost involved in managing facilities to such a diverse estate and set out in their quest to find a suitable partner. The process of selection of a partner that would assist Northgate in rationalising and improving the management and delivery of facilities services started with 20 companies. A scoring matrix was used to analyse the responses to the Invitation To Tender (ITT) resulting in two companies being shortlisted.

OCS was finally selected because it satisfied all the requirements Northgate had specified. It demonstrated that it had a good management system, the personalities involved with the original ITT remained during the whole process (and indeed are still involved in the contract to this day), were prepared to listen to, and work with, Northgate in developing good service delivery, and was proactive in suggesting improvements using its experience and expertise to improve performance and reduce costs. Northgate believe that in order to feel confident about outsourcing it was important that the Facilities Company selected must be able to deliver the services and be able to manage the contract effectively whilst maintaining a good working partnership with Northgate - through bad as well as the good times!

OCS, an international facilities service provider established in 1900, was appointed as the facilities service partner by Northgate in 2008.

The scope of the contract includes:-

? M&E
? Cleaning and janitorial services
? Security – manned guarding, key holding lock & unlock
? Hygiene and consumables
? Window Cleaning
? Post and porterage
? Pest control
? Horticulture and internal plants
? Waste Recycling and confidential waste shredding
? Catering and Vending
? Facilities Help Desk call logging and analysis
? FM management resources

Beyond these specific services Northgate was looking for a partnership that delivered some less tangible aspects, and the following became a brief to OCS on award of the contract in 2008:

? To facilitate the most cost effective solution for the delivery of services to Northgate IS, both in terms of price reduction, but also cost containment and cost avoidance
? To ensure the safety and welfare of our employees at all times
? To be innovative and flexible
? To ensure full transparency and to work in an open manner with Northgate IS
? To engage with local stakeholders and understand the actual requirements of each property
? To provide a consultative approach to each element of outsourced service
? To continually review and challenge convention with our approach to business with Northgate IS
The piecemeal nature of the existing operation (from a FM perspective) meant that OCS had to tackle some immediate priorities. Firstly, it had to provide the practical advice and resources to effect a phased transition from multi-partner outsourcing to a fully managed and resourced FM arrangement. Again, resulting from the disparate nature of the estate, OCS had to establish accurate records on all aspects of the estate portfolio. And, always important at a time of change, OCS was to establish a user friendly efficient helpdesk service.

Throughout this time, and still to this date, our greatest tool has been communication. OCS and Northgate work closely to ensure the needs of all parties are met and provide a firm framework for forward planning.

The partnership between OCS and Northgate have recorded a number of achievements in its first two years, that cover many aspects of the business. These include advances in operational, financial, and environmental performance. 


OCS inherited over 100 sub-contractors. Rationalisation of this number was achieved without cost penalties and with no service disruption.

OCS introduced a bespoke and dedicated Northgate IS helpdesk service, at the company’s centre in Morecambe. OCS and Northgate were committed to provide a “one stop shop” for building users needs, therefore the helpdesk logs calls on all streams of work regardless whether they are in OCS scope of activities or provided by Northgate direct.

OCS and Northgate have demonstrated true partnership in managing the changing environment of the Northgate estate portfolio. At the start of the contract in August 2008, the estate was 59 buildings. By January 2009 the portfolio had risen to 64. In August 2010 the portfolio was reduced to 54.


OCS and Northgate designed and implemented a robust process of costing and reconciliation for variations to the contract. The partnership has introduced significant cost savings. In total, year one cost efficiencies exceeded £130k

Management expertise from OCS enables cost control of our sub-contractors. A number of key functions are currently undertaken by the OCS Account Management team to provide a more efficient and flexible approach to the needs of Northgate IS.

Environmental / Compliance / Sustainability

Working with Northgate, OCS has introduced centralised waste systems, with a goal to maximise recycling opportunities. OCS and Northgate are working to convert 100% of the estate over to centralised waste systems. Clear benefits have already been demonstrated from this approach, including enhanced waste segregation for ease of recycling, improved MI stemming from the ability to monitor waste streams, and increased productivity in the cleaning processes.

OCS and Northgate have strategically moved form bottled water dispensers to mains fed water systems to further improve the environmental impact.

Together Northgate and OCS are working on lifecycle costing, energy saving measures and sustainability opportunities throughout the estate.

Management of compliance to a diverse inherited estate has been challenging to Northgate. Together Northgate and OCS have implemented a very comprehensive compliance matrix that enables Northgate to monitor progress of planned preventative maintenance for statutory and non-statutory compliance. Evidence such as certification numbers, completion dates and engineer reports are available for Northgate to review. The matrix outlines current PPM completion through the contract year and demonstrates OCS ability to deliver 100% PPM completion as scheduled. This has been an useful tool to easily demonstrate statutory compliance.

Ongoing progress

Throughout this period the OCS and Northgate team continued to work closely together to bring the estate to a safe and pleasant working environment whilst containing costs.

In Year two OCS and Northgate further demonstrated their working partnership and have established a further £170k of cost efficiency and further improved service quality.

A joint funded review of the catering facilities is being progressed to improve the healthy diet options and to further reduce cost subsidy.

At the end of year two of the original three-year contract, OCS and Northgate held joint management workshops to discuss and “brain storm” the current contract and service provision. The sessions were attended by the most senior members of both companies along with the operational teams involved in delivery. From these workshops it was able to establish a vision for the future of FM on the Northgate estate and build a plan to achieve the objectives of continued improved quality and greater cost efficiency.

Through this process it was established that the two companies share a number of similar visions and long term goals, and this cohesive and aligned approach to business at a strategic level, facilitated a far stronger and enduring relationship. OCS and Northgate subsequently announced that a renewed term of partnership has been agreed taking the current contract term to 2014.

Northgate and OCS are driven to ‘Making Northgate a Better Place to Work’. OCS’ role is to deliver a cost effective/high quality solution that enhances the office environment and assists Northgate in its desire to retain and motivate its employees more effectively.

Northgate’s Ted Howard commented: “OCS has not only led us through a difficult transition period of moving from multi supplier contracts, but has continued to offer Northgate the high degree of flexibility and proactivity that our strategy demands. I don’t believe in wasting money or paying for poor quality service. I also believe that you find a partner for the long term and work together for mutual advantage.

“OCS have continually been able to offer better value and quality utilising their procurement skills, knowledge of the market place, and the expansive resources it has whilst recognising continuous improvement is a way of life. Both Northgate and OCS have demonstrated their ability to listen to each other, take a few risks together, and make tough decisions where necessary. Linked with strong teamwork, mutual flexibility, and respect for each others views, we have a partnership that continues to stand the test of time and grow way beyond our expectations.’

[Pic of Award presentation – December issue p19 top right]
[Caption -] l-r Noel Clancy (from 2011 sponsor Shepherd FM), Diana Minden-Price (OCS) and Ted Howard (Northgate)

The judges said that proactive initiatives were evident from both parties and there was clear evidence that working together delivered results.

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