The use of outside service providers is a valuable way to refocus the facilities organization on value-add strategic services by shedding tactical services. The other major trend to positively impact the facilities organization strategic focus is the rapid adoption of workplace technologies to streamline, standardize and gain control of facilities operations. There is an absolute association between the outside service providers and the technology used to deliver those services. The question today isn’t should technology be used; it is rather who controls that technology.
Common Technology Models with outsourcing
- Client owned and operated workplace technology – Under this model, the service provider is expected to access and utilize their client’s solution in the delivery of outsourced services. The advantage of this model for the client is that control of the process and ownership of the consolidated data is maintained by the client. However, a significant barrier is the perceived advantage to the client of the service provider’s sales pitch about using their own “standardized and optimized” technology, often couched as the driver for both their cost and performance commitments.
- Service Provider-owned and operated technology – The service providers all have their favorite tools for delivering their services. However, in most cases this is more of a sales pitch than a reality since many of the larger service providers use a wide variety of different packages across their client base. In most cases we have observed there is a very real loss of control and transparency. With this model, the client must learn how to submit and report out of a third-party solution and access to real analytics in that system is at the complete control of the service provider being measured. Additionally, regardless of the marketing message to the contrary, there is a loss of institutional knowledge since the data is stored in a solution not owned by the client. Even if the contract with the service provider requires the delivery of the data if the contract is terminated, the accuracy of that data and the ability to access it are highly questionable.
- Hybrid model – The best way to mitigate the negative and still allow the positive benefits of the first two models is to do them both. The advantage of the client-owned system is that it supports an organization’s business processes which should be the basis of the Service Level Agreements (SLA’S). It also allows the client’s employees to continue working with a system with which they are familiar. Reporting comes from a trusted database and meets the client’s specific corporate requirements. Specifics of facility work orders are delivered electronically to the system used by the responsible party. SLA criteria such as response time, costing, and service delivery time can easily be tracked within the internal system since it is configured with the SLA terms.
The service providers get the added advantage of doing their work within their own system since the electronic transfer of the request is fundamentally the same as if the client had entered it directly into the service provider system. The service providers have all the advantages of their own processes and training with the pre-defined integration providing the minimal responses to comply with the SLA. Once the work is completed by the service provider, the integration transfers the work disposition information back to the client’s system and the client can then run reports, see service statistics live and so forth. The hybrid model provides all of these benefits while not handicapping the service provider and adding extra burden to their delivery service model.