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News & opinion

18 JUL 2018

Is FM a risky business?

The key focus of this year’s RICS Strategic Facility Management Conference was risk.

In the wake of recent high-profile developments and continuing trends such as digital disruption, this conference  held in London and hosted in partnership with IFMA  aimed to support FM professionals by addressing and highlighting the key risks currently faced by the sector.

“We are working in disruptive times. We need to work to high standards whilst being transparent and clear about what we do. It’s not about the profit we make, but how we make those profits,” conference chair Rory Murphy reminded delegates.

Procurement risk

Delivering a session on procurement risk and best practices, Samantha Ulyatt, Strategy Director  Buildings, Crown Commercial Service spoke about the importance of consistency, transparency and maturity in terms of how professionals should operate. This was soon counterbalanced by Trevor Pijper, Vice President – Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s Investors Service. He cited inconsistency, and a lack of transparency, in relation to accounting practices when summarising key lessons learnt from Carillion’s collapse and the perpetuated ‘race to the bottom’.

During a panel discussion on the future of the profession, Lucy Jeynes, founding partner and managing director of Larch Consulting stressed that “in a time where the subject of outsourcing is very toxic,” partnerships such as the IFMA-RICS collaboration have a vital role to play in demonstrating how FM can bring strategic value to organisations.

“If we are going to change our industry, we need to change the way we operate and provide services,” added Ross Abbate, group managing director of Mace Macro. “The competition comes from those who cut prices, which then drives everything else. We need to be brave enough to turn that around.”

The competition comes from those who cut prices, which then drives everything else. We need to be brave enough to turn that around.

Ross Abbate
Mace Macro

Chris Keneally, group CEO of Cordant Group spoke passionately about some of the ethical decisions and behaviours needed to take the sector forward. “The power is with people,” he said. “I think the innovation comes from those stepping into this industry, they are the innovators and we need to provide the platform for them to grow.”

Digital technology

Advances in digital technology also expose the need to upskill staff. Ian Townsend, group director of facilities management at Capita Corporate Real Estate stated: “It’s pointless collecting data and having numerous reports if nobody understands what it really means,” while Lucy Jeynes stressed the additional need to focus on teaching the skills that machines and robots can’t replace  such as soft skills around emotion and communication.

As the day continued, delegates learnt from Nick Bishop, head of  corporate strategy at Golin about the hidden dangers to businesses posed by reputational risks and how fragile your reputation can be. On the back of a recent RICS-IFMA report The Social Impact of FM, ways to demonstrate and measure the social value of FM were also discussed.

The conference ended with a masterclass from Danny Lemon, general manager of the Shard. Danny joined the FM profession after 20 years at the very top of the hospitality sector working for both the Savoy Group and Roux Brothers. He’s since applied these principles to how he manages the UK’s tallest building: “I run Shard Quarter like I would a Michelin Star restaurant. The service we offer has to be seamless and exceptional. We have to be able to deliver this service consistently to make it special and remembered. This is the most challenging, yet exciting and rewarding, job I have ever had.”