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Outsourcing - let's separate the what from the how. Corporate failure - now is the time to safeguard our futures!

19-01-18, 11:09

lindaMonday 15 January 2018 had already been dubbed Blue Monday the most miserable day of the year. That was before the shocking announcement that Carillion had collapsed.

Everybody is reeling from the events of this week. How could it have happened so quickly and so dramatically?

The news about Carillion has raised serious questions and concerns for everyone involved.  Much sympathy is with those directly affected - for them, Monday truly was blue. 

At BIFM our immediate response has been to reach out to our learners from Carillion with support and encouragement to them to continue their learning.  Our industry requires skilled workers so there's no better time for anybody - whether affected by the fall-out from this collapse or not - to acquire more qualifications and stay connected to their professional body.   

In the commentary that has rippled out from this crisis, much has been said about outsourcing. In some quarters the very concept is condemned; particularly as a model for public sector service delivery under the Private Finance Initiative, PFI.

But is outsourcing itself the villain here?  Or is this service delivery concept being judged through the prism of a corporate failure - and judged the more harshly for it? 

Outsourcing has become integral to the FM industry. There are many examples of outsourcing firms delivering excellent services driven not by lowest cost but by value. Under such arrangements they're bringing added worth to client businesses such as access to expertise, technology, innovation and information management, delivered by hard working high-quality people.

The truth about what led Carillion to fail so spectacularly will emerge. I doubt it happened because outsourcing is a flawed concept, rather because of the way outsourcing was conducted - inadequate procurement, low profit margins and poor governance.   Whatever the conclusion the focus forward should be on what can be done to change or improve it.  We will use evidence and experience from our members to shape and influence the debate.

A BIFM expert group will be set-up that will help us to understand the issues and build a cogent and evidence based case for a value driven model of FM service provision.

Members can help us to understand what is happening now.  What needs to happen to discourage low pricing and how can pitfalls be avoided. This in turn will provide all members with insights from current events which could help them safeguard their futures.

As well as meeting the Cabinet Office and Crown Representative for SMEs, BIFM will
submit formal evidence to the wide-ranging House of Commons (PACAC) committee Inquiry into public services delivery sourcing announced this week, which will examine the matter from the contractor and the supplier perspective.   

I am keen to hear your views. Let us know what you think at policy@bifm.org.uk

Linda Hausmanis FRSA CMgr
Chief Executive Officer
British Institute of Facilities Management

 
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