Collaborative working in FM

As I enter into the last phase of a major contract negotiation for one of my clients, I am reminded that collaborative working is not necessarily an easy option to take, but by far the most successful way of achieving a solid basis for FM success.

Every set-back, (and they will always come from left field from either or both sides), requires careful thought to really understand the underlying fears and perceptions of the individuals involved. It is people who negotiate on behalf of their organisations. So it is people who achieve the results. Such an obvious statement and yet we still refer to “them” and “us” as if organisations are somehow a disembodied entity rather than a collective working towards shared goals and objectives.

Collaboration is about taking care of how we define success in contract negotiation. This is not just about the finishing line but where we start from. Is squeezing the supplier till they feel the pain the right foundation for building service excellence? Is taking advantage of a client struggling with their own changes going to result in the working relationship which can move away from a blame culture?

A straight forward procurement project will seek the best solution at the best price that the market place can offer for that client. Not all negotiations can or should follow that path.

To be a CUT above the rest you start with :-

Control – the contract must clearly set out the intentions and obligations of both parties with consequences for failure in delivering service and reward for superlative performance which adds real value to the client’s core business. It needs to protect both parties from a change in personnel who fail to appreciate the collaborative approach.

Understanding is about individuals at all levels being pro-active in discovering what REALLY matters to each party, the commercial risks and benefits of the future relationship.

Trust has to be earned over time as the contract delivers a framework of honesty and reliability. You will only know you have it when the chips are down and a crisis of some kind requires a shift outside the norm from your supplier staff on site. It begins with a belief that says “ it is OK to trust”! To have that belief requires the assurance that controls are in place to deal with any shortfalls.

The old saying of “the best contract being the one that sits in a drawer”, still has a place. But only if the controls set up at the outset in the contract become second nature within the operational reality and individuals continually strive to understand their personal contribution to delivering customer-centric FM on client AND supply side.

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