case study

One month ago I published this blog post: http://occupiersjournal.com/project-socs-service-operations-case-studies-collaborative-research/

I was super-enthusiastic! A good evening debate at the RICS, where education and development of Facilities Management (FM) was the focus, and had triggered a sudden rush of activity. The blog describes how it all started, and who was involved.

I am still enthusiastic about the concept of developing Harvard-style case studies for our industry – we have to be! The industry needs case studies, desperately….we have very little substantive material to demonstrate how FM contributes to business performance. You can read about the progress of Project SOCS (Service Operations: Case Studies) here: http://lnkd.in/F2HBcy

However, the project is starting to get into the usual ‘inertia treacle’ between the parties in an industry that sadly seems to know the cost of everything, and the value of nothing (a point made in our Raising The Bar report for RICS in November 2012). For so long now, FM companies have grown by going to customers with a “we can save you 10%” proposition….but 15 years ago, that worked. Now, customers have got used to asking FM to cut costs – they expect it.

Go on, just one more cut…it won’t kill the industry (will it?)

Yes, it will. Eventually. You cannot build a market sector that has no marketing other than cost-savings.

What is the FM industry? Perhaps it is currently a Project, not an industry sector. Perhaps it has been a 25-30 year project to rationalize property-related service provision in organisations, and make them lean and efficient. OK, it may have achieved that. So what next?

Does the industry want to sell value-based services to customers at a price that allows them to invest in good people, and grow profitability? It seems not. Or, in fact, it seems the industry just does not know how to do that.

Cinderella had better PR than Facilities Management does!

She must have done. Someone told the ‘customer’ what size her feet were….the rest is history (OK, myth). If that was Facilities Management, the customer would have been told, “Why not forget the glass slipper…we can supply you with these boots, at lower cost”. Not the point.

FM needs to start building a rich picture of all the many ways that FM contributes to business performance. It needs to build these ‘stories’ into solid case studies, that can be used by Business Schools to teach future executives about the business value of FM.

We are ready to source and write 20 case studies, into a 100 page book, by year end….help us to do that?

Someone always needs to stick their head above the parapet, and allow people to take ‘pot shots’. I have; and they will. But, we have a very strong team now confirmed:

Project Management: me + David Emanuel (MD, i-FM.net), Dr. Rob Harris (Ramidus Consulting) and my business partner, Dr Jim Ware (a former Harvard Business School professor and case study expert). More at this link: http://lnkd.in/sDyY-F

UK Steering Group (formally confirmed so far):

  • Kath Fontana             Managing Director, BAM FM
  • Liz Kentish                  BIFM, Deputy Chair
  • Peter McLennan       Course Director, MSc FEM, University College London (UCL)
  • Deborah Rowland    Head of FM Policy & Strategy, Government Property Unit (Cabinet Office)
  • Stephen Shallcroft   Director, Corporate Real Estate, ARCADIS NV (inc. EC Harris LLP)
  • Gareth Tancred         BIFM, Chief Executive

And a clear target ‘check list’ for case studies: http://lnkd.in/9KJx9p

What do we need from you? as soon as possible…..

What we really need now is funding. We can really help to change the FM industry, and start to move towards value-based business services, and away from simple cost-savings.

Service providers need to invest in this project, in our opinion. When we are successful in shifting the focus towards value, not cost-savings, then service providers will become more profitable. We all need the many service providers in our industry to be profitable, over the long-term, to make it possible to invest in people and performance.

Please invest today, and have your brand associated with this leading project; please contact David Emanuel: david@i-fm.net

And please join, and follow the progress of the SOCS project, on our LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-SOCS-Service-Operations-CASE-5093552/about

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Former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, is widely reported to have said “a week is a long time in politics”. A minute must have seemed a long time for Sabine Lisicki yesterday afternoon in the ladies tennis final at Wimbledon – we felt her pain! For Occupiers Journal, so much has happened in 5 days! It has been a good week for collaboration…

CASE STUDIES – collaboration

Dr. Frank Duffy raised a point at an evening event (more below); we need Harvard-style case studies in our industry. I have heard Frank say this before, and I knew where he was coming from – the Harvard Business Review (HBR) publishes 4-page summaries. These are multi-disciplinary, but written from the viewpoint of one discipline, such as Operations Management or Service Management. The Harvard case-teaching method is more detailed, and used as the basis of business school teaching worldwide. It is a proven method of teaching managers.

Frankly (no pun intended), I just thought the time for talk is over – we must act now. The corporate real estate (property), workplace and facilities management (FM) discipline needs this multi-disciplinary case study approach. And my business partner, Dr. Jim Ware, is an experienced ex-Harvard professor! So, there has never been a better time to push this forward.

SERVICE OPERATIONS: deliberately crossing Operations with Service Management

There is a recognized opportunity for Operations Management to engage in the SERVICE arena and apply this long-established body of knowledge and skills to answer fundamental questions in the areas of service quality, productivity and efficiency, and to apply their expertise in business services and the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors.

Service Operations is a deliberate mash-up! It crosses over between the established fields of Operations Management (generally applied to production efficiency – but equally applicable perhaps to the operating of buildings and engineering systems) and the newer field of Service Management, where perhaps much of facilities management resides.

Project: SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is launched!

It is official – it has a LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-SOCS-Service-Operations-CASE-5093552/about

SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is specifically focused on a vital part of Service Operations in any organisation – the buildings (real estate), workplace provision, and facilities management (FM) services. Our aim: to deliver case studies to demonstrate contribution to organisational performance.

When, where and how did this start?

On Monday evening, 1st July 2013, at the RICS in London, the third Facilities Management (FM) evening event was held, organised by John Anderson. I was on the panel discussion, which was expertly chaired by Christopher Hedley, and with the following great people (in no particular order): Liz Kentish (Deputy Chair of BIFM), Kath Fontana, Managing Director of BAM FM (and representing the RICS FM Professional Group), Dr. John Hinks (Global Head of Innovation, CRE&FM, Group Operations at Zurich), and Peter McLennan (Course Director, MSc in F&EM at UCL).

In the audience were many other representatives of FM industry bodies and leading commentators: Johnny Dunford (Global Commercial Director, RICS), Chris Hoar (Chief Executive, FM Association), Dave Wilson, the UK representative for IFMA Foundation, Geoff Prudence (Chair, CIBSE FM Group), Richard Byatt (Communications, Magenta; former Corporate & Public Affairs Director at BIFM), David Emanuel (Managing Director, i-FM.net), and Martin Read (Managing Editor, FM World).

The invited guests covered many of the leading FM clients (occupiers) and service providers from the UK and international market, and many leading consultants, from sole principle to global firms. It is fair to say that the gathering of 80 or so people was a representative cross-section of the UK FM industry.

SOCS: Terms of Reference

The next stage is to bring this project together. We have made a start, and many of the people listed above have already agreed to play a role in this project. In particular, RICS, BIFM and the FM Association are all ‘agreed in principle’. And all the panel (above) have also agreed to represent these bodies, and others, on a Steering Group, chaired by Dr. John Hinks as an independent client (end user).

The majority of our Regional Partners have also responded already, to say that they are very much behind SOCS and will communicate it within their global regions. This will connect us with ABRAFAC, SAFMA, MEFMA, FMA Australia and many others over time!

Further details

contact: Project Co-Director: Paul Carder: paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com or +44(0)7970 406477

or Project Co-Director: Dr Rob Harris, Ramidus Consulting (Occupiers Journal – Regional Partner, UK & Ireland)

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