First steps for a partnership

When you’re setting up a partnership, it’s vital that everyone’s on the same page from the start.

One of the things Assure Advisory specialises in is helping you ensure that your facilities management partnerships are working well. Here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way.

Consistency is key
Before you enter a new partnership with a supplier, you need to ensure you’re measuring all potential partners consistently. If suppliers are coming back to you with vastly different quotes, it’s probably because they’re interpreting your requirements differently. Don’t assume your partners have the same knowledge as you about your estate – the reason their quote is so much cheaper may be because they don’t realise that elements of work need to take place outside of office hours, or that special access arrangements are required. You need to ensure you have a detailed specification for exactly what work you want your potential partners to carry out, the scope of the work involved, and what standards you expect.

Be clear on what you want
We’ve recently written a specification for a health trust who wanted to outsource some of their facilities work. They were planning on splitting the work between their current in-house team, and an external provider. With the Trust having more than a dozen buildings over multiple sites, it was vital that the specification was clear, accurate and covered exactly who would be responsible for which tasks. A detailed specification provided this clarity, and ensured there was no chance of misunderstanding after the partnership began.

Keep your in-house team in the loop
When working with multiple teams of people, it’s important to make sure roles and responsibilities are spelt out in black and white. For example, if you’re using a fire alarm specialist to service your fire alarms once a year, it would be easy for your in-house team to assume that they no longer need to do anything with the fire alarm system because ‘someone else is dealing with that’. But it would be unreasonable and costly to expect your fire alarm specialist to turn up every Monday to test the alarms in all your buildings. Make sure your internal teams know exactly what your partners are going to do, but also what they’re not doing.

Set targets
Agreeing KPIs with your partner is important to make sure you’re both happy with the quality of the work. These targets need to be realistic, and they also need to be easily measurable. Having upfront, quantifiable goals means your partner knows what you expect, and avoids difficult conversations down the line.

We all know the benefits of lasting partnerships. Long-standing partners get to know and understand you and your building, they can work on longer-term projects, and you grow to trust and rely on them. However, all this can be undermined by errors made before the relationship even begins. Make sure you take the time to get your own expectations and specification right, start off with everyone being clear on roles and responsibilities, and your partners will eventually feel like an extension of your own team.

Assure Advisory are a specialist consultancy focused on property maintenance and compliance. They provide advice and support on service specifications, asset management, maintenance, compliance, efficiency and future lifecycle planning.