Tricks Of The Trade: Outsourcing Trends
By James C. Elledge, IFMA Fellow, CFM, FMA, RPA, RIAQM
Published in the April 2009 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
Q I am researching outsourcing in the facility management (FM) industry and would like to know more about its status in North America. It is my understanding that certain FM services (like janitorial, building maintenance, landscaping, etc.) have already reached their maturation in terms of outsourcing. But are there any FM services that are newly being outsourced? If so, what types of services are these, and how is this expected to grow?
Name withheld upon request
A You are correct in your understanding of the mature outsourcing services (janitorial, landscaping, etc.). These have been contracted out successfully by property owners to control expenses and improve quality and service levels.
This started out as out tasking, using a vendor to perform a specific service, but as vendors grew, they added more services, allowing the property owner to select a provider to perform multiple services, changing from out tasking to outsourcing.
Corporate headquarters then started adding more personal services (like health centers, cafeterias, day care, banking, etc.) for employees. Outsourcing again came to the rescue by providing organizations with the ability to offer these services without having to hire and train staff to manage and perform the skills required for these perks.
Technology has now brought more changes to organizations. New automation options allow companies to manage their energy consumption better, with computerized systems available for HVAC, lighting, irrigation, and other environmental issues. Outsourcing services are available to monitor these systems 24/7, off-site or on-site, with trained personnel.
Technology has helped to develop more automated help desk systems, many offered as a Web service hosted by a third party. This allows facility departments to implement a fully featured solution to employees at a very reasonable cost. In addition, the third party solution eliminates the cost of software, hardware, and the time to install, test, and implement.
Other areas seeing an increase in outsourcing include space management (specifically, CAD and CAFM drawings), furniture inventory, space design, and churn control.
For more specific details on outsourcing trends, you may want to consider checking out the following articles:
- “Essential Elements In Outsourcing” by Alex Lam, TFM, June 2008, page 32;
- “The Reality Of Facilities Management Outsourcing” by Maria Vickers, TFM, January 2004, page 20;
- An Inside Look at Outsourcing Research Report #27, by the International Facility Management Association (order online here);
- “Facilities Management: The Big Picture” by Katrina C. Arabe, ThomasNet® IndustrialNewsRoom, April 11, 2003;
- “7 Major Trends in Facilities Management” by Katrina C. Arabe, ThomasNet® IndustrialNewsRoom, October 20, 2003; and
- The Outsourcing Center.
Elledge,facility/office services manager for Dallas, TX-based Summit AllianceCompanies, is the recipient of the Distinguished Author Award from theInternational Facility Management Association (IFMA), is an IFMA Fellow, and isa member of TFM’sEditorial Advisory Board. All questions have been submitted via the “Ask TheExpert” portion of the magazine’s Web site. To pose a question, visit this link.