6 Benefits of FM Outsourcing and How to Approach Them

How has a word as simple as outsourcing created such interest? It is not a new phenomenon, but part of a highly competitive business reality—agility in the delivery of facility services. For years, outsourcing meant little more than contracting out the few services that could not be done in-house, such as building construction, remodeling, and tenant improvements. However, the term is taking on more significance.

The array of services and functions that constitute the facility management profession is now so wide that an organization cannot provide all or even a major portion of facility services itself.

Despite protests from senior managers and human resource professionals, most practicing facility managers cite two reasons to outsource. First, to reduce personnel, even if doing so does not reduce direct costs. Second, to simplify the personnel decisions—especially disciplinary ones—associated with permanent employees in large organizations with complex personnel policies.

Top Benefits of Outsourcing

1. Better access to specific technical skills and expertise: Because facility service typically falls outside the core business of a company, organizations have access to better and more varied technical skills through outsourcing. The facility management organizations can often be merged with the manufacturing and engineering operations through outsourcing, a feat somewhat difficult to achieve in-house.

2. Higher quality skills: In smaller organizations where a limited number of facility personnel must perform a wide variety of services, outside providers can increase productivity and efficiency in areas requiring highly specialized technical expertise and access to specialized equipment.

3. Reduced total cost of function: Outsourcing can free capital for core business activities. The technology in computer-aided facility management (CAFM) systems, for example, continues to change so rapidly that it is not feasible for most companies to replace useful yet outdated equipment with the latest version. In other service areas, supplies and equipment providers usually can offer better purchasing agreements, often nationwide, and are better able to move equipment among clients with changing needs.

4. Adaptability to workflow fluctuations: As needs change, the use of service providers can expand or shrink along with fluctuations in the demand for such ongoing routine services, such as unusual cleaning requirements after a move.

5. Reduced personnel costs: Organizations striving to cut costs through personnel reductions see outsourcing as one way to save money. Service providers also offer a wider array of skills than could be maintained in-house, contracting these skills only when and where necessary. 

6. One-time situations: Outsourcing can be used to intensify production under emergency conditions, to supplement overloaded in-house personnel, and to test outsource contractors on a trial basis.

Approaches to Outsourcing

It is possible to develop a facility-staffing model to determine systematically how work should be allocated. The three components of this strategy are:

Outsource—Determine the amount of work to be handled by consultants, subcontractors, and outsourcing suppliers for the specific needs of the organization.

In-house temporaries—Determine which skills an in-house workforce of temporary employees or those with flexible work arrangements can provide. Such in-house support is useful for coping with peaks in demand.

In-house, full-time—Determine the appropriate level of in-house, full-time employees who will be needed to staff either a peak work level or a median level, and then retain enough permanent employees to establish that threshold.

When considering which strategy or combination or strategies to employ, keep in mind the type of service or product you want to outsource.

This article is adapted from BOMI International’s Fundamentals of Facilities Managementpart of the FMA® designation program. More information regarding this course or BOMI International’s High-Performance Sustainable Buildings credential (BOMI-HP®) is available by calling 1.800.235.2664. Visit BOMI International’s website, www.bomi.org.

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