Helping FMs to choose the best (and strongest) suppliers

Technology providers are offering increasingly complex services. So, in the first of our series of articles on the big challenges faced by facilities managers (FMs) we talk through why it’s vital for SMEs to undertake proper ‘stress tests’ of potential partners.

It would be a rare facilities manager indeed who claimed that they were under-worked and occasionally at a loose end. Far, far more common is the FM who faces the headache-inducing worry of maintaining the constant performance of numerous critical building systems – including air conditioning, lighting and heating – and negotiating the economic and company-political challenges this entails.

As core lighting systems have increased in complexity, it’s not surprising that FMs are more inclined than ever to outsource responsibility for some systems to third-party specialists. The extent to which this sector has expanded in recent years is underlined by a recent forecast from Frost & Sullivan that the global outsourced FM market is likely to be worth $1 trillion by 2025.

Of course, choosing the wrong supplier can lead to all kinds of problems – financial, practical and logistical. So with the complexity of third-party services continuing to grow, it’s never been more important to routinely stress-test suppliers to ensure you obtain the quality and service you need.

Supplier health checks

In an uncertain world, stress-tests can provide valuable peace of mind about a supplier’s present and future stability. Basic measures here include checking supplier’s payment terms – as requests for early payment can indicate that a business has cash-flow issues – and undertaking some due diligence by reviewing company accounts filed at Companies House and scrutinising business credit reports with a company like Dun & Bradstreet.

Other issues to consider include the history and track-record of the company – something that can be established with even a fairly routine web-search – and its ability to provide detailed technical information about its systems and services. It’s also worth scrutinising any specific funding schemes that the supplier supports. 

Above all, it’s vital to resist the lure of ‘easy thrill’ of opting automatically for the cheapest supplier. By undertaking fulsome research, it’s often possible to identify a supplier who can not only enable cost-efficiency of systems and services, but also offer the kind of deep, expertise-based collaboration that results in partnerships lasting many years.

If you’re an FM and looking for external support for to help your organization with its big energy and estate management challenges, drop us a line or give us a call.