What You Need to Know About Outsourcing Enterprise Facilities Management

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    Have you noticed that you almost never hear about “green computing” anymore? It was all the rage a few years ago, but now, it seems, the topic draws about as much attention as a Palm Pilot. I don’t pretend to know exactly why that is, but my hunch is that IT professionals have so much to deal with in their quest to improve the efficiency of their operations, issues with labels that conjure up touchy-feely images of tree huggers and “Save the Planet” stickers simply don’t rise to a level that makes it on to a lot of IT department radars.

    The irony, of course, is that, when you think about it, “green computing” and efficient operations are inseparable. Whether or not you call it something that makes for a good bumper sticker, it’s all about efficient enterprise facilities management.

    Enterprise facilities management, or EFM, was the topic of my recent email interview with Paul Morgan, vice president and general manager of the Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) unit of Johnson Controls in Milwaukee. GWS is a provider of outsourced EFM services, and I thought it would be helpful to start off by clarifying how GWS defines EFM. Morgan prefaced his definition by noting that the facilities management industry and the business needs of building owners and occupiers continue to evolve.

    “Ultimately, they are seeking reduced cost and risk, and improved performance of their facilities in meeting their core business mission and goals,” he said. “We view EFM as the integration of hard and soft facility management services with energy management, and driven by a performance analytics engine.”

    Morgan went on to explain that an organization’s decision to outsource facilities management across their entire enterprise must be deliberate, and focused on business outcome. He noted that GWS works with its customers to help them achieve their business goals through optimized and standardized processes to reduce cost, risk and waste; global consistency to enhance business operations and the end-user experience; measurable performance improvements, from building efficiency to space utilization; and accelerated innovation and increased speed-to-market. Morgan added that GWS recently introduced a “Top 10” list to help corporations optimize their facilities management outsourcing effort.

    I asked Morgan under what circumstances outsourcing EFM is not the best option for an organization. He indicated that it’s not going to work without stakeholder buy-in and having the right culture in place.

    “Organizations must be able to articulate the relationship between EFM and their core business. When an outsourced EFM operating model is tied to a company’s goals, it can deliver great value,” Morgan said. “Stakeholder support and cultural readiness at all levels of the organization are critical to success.”

    I asked Morgan how the Internet of Things is changing what GWS is doing in the realm of EFM. He said the question highlights the fact that corporations need to understand what’s in their facilities portfolio, and how they can run it more effectively across the lifecycle of the various buildings within that portfolio.

    “The Internet of Things empowers organizations to access, capture, analyze, and apply tremendous volumes of building data to significantly improve both short-term building performance and long-term strategic decision-making,” Morgan said. “To be successful, our onsite and mobile facilities management technicians must have access to the right building information. IoT enables instant connectivity and access so that real-time, data-driven decisions can be made efficiently and effectively for the benefit of our customers.”

    On the question of how EFM will be different five years from now, Morgan said GWS expects a continued trend toward service integration, driving EFM growth in North America and Europe, and that the growing footprint of multinationals will increase awareness and demand for professional facilities management and integrated service offerings in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

    “Globally, a focus on green initiatives and energy-efficient facilities is expected to result in an expansion in the scope of facilities management services,” he said. “We expect to see increased consolidation among facilities management service providers. This will increase the degree of integration capabilities they offer, and customers, in turn, will expect their facilities management providers to offer more specialized services.”

    Morgan added that looking into the future, the way work will be conducted and the growing competition for employee talent have major implications for corporations, facilities management service providers, and the IT industry.

    “We predict that by the year 2040, digital natives, or ‘digirati,’ will rule the workplace,” he said. “Their patterns of work will be radical compared with today, as technology, globalization, and demand for flexibility influence not only the workday, but also the working environment itself. A trip to the office will be a rewarding experience where colleagues will network in a highly collaborative environment. We’ll need to consider and prepare for this future of work.”

    A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.

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