Keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change is key, writes ALF JAMES
A decade ago outsourced facilities management was primarily a way for companies to reduce the cost of managing facilities. However, today companies face very different challenges, according to John Wentzel, CEO at Drake and Scull Facilities Management (DSFM) which is a subsidiary of Tsebo Outsourcing Group.
“ The way in which DSFM has developed reflects the changing needs of our clients whose concern are about creating work spaces that drive productivity and enhance the workplace, managing an increasingly complex facility, improving energy management, mitigating their carbon footprint, conserving water, minimising their generation of solid waste and generally reducing their impact on the environment.
“The fact that companies are demanding that their suppliers are more environmentally sensitive, together with proposed legislative changes such as carbon tax will continue to increase the pressure on business to reduce their environmental impact.
“Facilities management has become far more strategic over the last few years and clients want value – not simply the cheapest. Large clients in particular are looking for facilities management partner who can understand their vision and help them achieve it.
“It’s a transition that we continue to make as a service provider.” Wentzel
He believes that rapid pace of technological chance is critical to this transition and directly affects both DSFM as a service provider and the entire facilities management industry.
“Technology is definitely playing a greater role in our business and will play increasingly important role going forward. Our clients, for example ask if they can access key information on a tablet computer and approve work requests on an iphone” says Wentzel.
“We are very proud that early in 2013 we went live with a fully integrated cloud-based facilities management system in two of our largest clients. With this we can provide a completely integrated work order generation all the way through the payment and general ledger reporting.
“It was one of the keys that enabled us to win our largest ever contract for management of over 1,700 building across the continent. We are still optimising the system, but it fundamentally changes the way we manage our company and extract value for our clients.
“We try to introduce new technology on an on-going basis, but in small chunks so that we minimise changes to the business. We have a fantastic IT team and we support changes through training and making technology intuitive and simple to use.
“We constantly look at what is happening at a technology level globally in our industry and listen carefully to our clients so that we have a structural plan for technological development.
“Our objective is to provide our clients with a single view of their facilities across Africa and for them to have the ability to access that view across multiple platforms in as near to real time as possible”
“This means we will be investing in further integration of systems, data analytics and data visualisation” says Wentzel.
However, he is quick to point out that DSFM’s technological innovations don’t just come from the top; rather, the company culture inspires the sharing of great ideas at all levels.
“Every one of our people plays a role in our quest to deliver added value to clients by cutting their costs significantly, while also helping them to drive sustainability in their business. It is added value that positions DSFM’s service beyond the expected, and it exists because of our people.
“People are the centre of our business. While we have systems, procedures and equipment to ensure that we provide the most effective service to our clients these are the meaningless without our staff- many of whom have been with us for more than 10 years. Likewise we have been with some of our clients for more than 10 years and we know the industries we serve very well,” says Wentzel.
He asserts that the DSFM ha earned reputations for being the best integrated facilities management solutions, which is supported by DSFM recently being awarded the Golden Arrow Award by PMR. Africa following its External Facilities Management Companies Survey. The Survey is based on the perceptions of peers and clients.
Wenzel says an important contributor to DSFM’s success is the company’s relationship with its parent, Tsebo Outsourcing Group.
“We draw upon the strength of Tsebo in catering, cleaning, hygiene, energy management and procurement to offer our clients a comprehensive service.
“Being part of a group means that we share the costs of functions such as IT, marketing and payroll and draw upon a much larger leadership pool when we respond a clients’ need or plan our growth path”
Public-private partnerships are growing in importance
Public – Private partnerships ( PPPs) are growing in importance for South African Faclities management providers. DSFM has demonstrated a uniques capability to ensure success in such projects over the last 15 years.
“One of the largets and most extensive outsourced facilities managments contracts in Africa, our flagship contract with the Department of Health and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban is focuse on keeping the hospital running like clockwork.” Says John Wentzel , CEO at DSFM.
He says in partnership with Umongi, DSFM manages 19 key facilities services at the hostpital, as well as complex technical services, ensuring the optimal functioning of the approximetly 200,00m2 hosptial, day and night.
Wentzel reports that in another PPP, DSFM’s facilities management priority zone project has set new standards of excellence for inner city regenerations and has been praised locally and abroad, garnering a Gold Award for outstanding landscaping and turf management at the 2012 South African Landscaping Awards.
“Since early 2010, DSFM, toghther with the eThekwini municipality’s head of architecture, Jonathon Edkins, and City Architects’ urban development manager, Derek White, has managed a 24/7 intergrated service provision model within the facilities management priority zone, centred around a flourigshing rooftop farm on top of DSFM’s office in Durban.
“Today, the facilities management priority zone is a bustling inner city areas of informal trade, taxi ranks , shopping centres, commercial and nationally strategic building, businesses, parks and musems,” he says.
“The integral service provision model in the zone has enhanced municipal line services, helped local stakeholders to embrace the “ green” potential of their urban enviorment and payed host to special projects that demonstrate there’s more to city life than concrete and glass.”
DSFM’s management –partnership approach to business is also reflected in the success of its relationship with private – sector clients.
Uniliver SA, which is at the forefront of fresh workplace thinking, has been a facilities managments client since 2003.
“As its facilities management provider, we must constantly think “ outsidethe box,” says Wentzel.
“In 2010 Uniliver Global launched its sustainable living plan, targeted at growing the business while reducing enviormental impact, which led DSFMa to roll out an eco- friendly carpeting solution for the huge head office of Uniliver SA.
“In collaboration with Van Dyck, DSFM developed, manufactured , and is currently istalling over 16,000M2 of eco friendly carpeting that is decreasing the company ‘s carbon footprint susbstantially.
“he Unilver headquarter ‘ old carpeting has been sourced and transported form the Netherlands ( about 9,500km away), while DSFM ‘s new carpeting solution only has travel about 40km. is made from 60% recycled content and has been baking that is completely recyclable.” He says “ it helps to reduce energy cosumptions in the offices because of its thermal propertis anf has also stimulated local employment”
DSFM’s partnership methodology also manifests in the company imperative to reduce facilities management costs and process inefficiencies such as time delays and wastage without compromising on quality.
“Despite the economic downturn and CPI increases , our savings model has dramatically increased the cost efficacy experienced by Business Connexion since we were appointed as the company’s facilities management provided in 2009.“ says Wentzel
DSFM provides a full facilities management solution for Business Conextion national property portfolio- 16 offices covering more than 40.440m2.
“We have a 100-strong team working on the contract and provide full environmental sustainability reporting, facilitated by in-house air-conditioning an electrical engineer and a certified carbon footprint analyst.
“To enhance the co-ordination of our integrated facilities management solution for Business Connexion a fully integrated cloudbased facilities management system is currently being implemented to ensure optimal efficiency within the operating environment,” says Wentzel.
“This will give our client a single, clear view of their outsourced facilities portfolio, incorporating work order generation, procurement and financial reporting. For increased transparency, the system will include a self-service portal.”
Giving young people their chance
IN THE current uncertain economic climate and unpredictable job market, global research has revealed that young adults of the so-called “Generation Y” (born between 1980 and 1995), are attempting to adapt to these environmental conditions by seeking alternative forms of employment through entrepreneurial activities.
Generation Y is faced with unique challenges when entering the work environment that are distinctive to their generation,joining an unpredictable job market plagued by poor global economic conditions with a resultant growth in unemployment.
The youth unemployment rate in SA is currently 48%, according to the latest Global Entrepreneur Monitor, which says the greatest challenge in fixing the crisis is creating more jobs.
“Corporates need to meet government halfway in order to combat youth unemployment,” says DSFM CEO John Wentzel. “We need a countrywide solution for the problems we face and this can be achieved by ensuring that business engages with the government more effectively.”
He says DSFM recognises the need in SA to assist with business and job creation. To this end it has created DSFM Delivery through which it aims to establish sustainable employment and enterprise opportunities. DSFM Delivery is a franchise approach to the provision of maintenance services to clients. Each franchisee is 100% owner managed, employing members of the community within which it operates. Each franchise functions independently with its own vehicles, staff, tools and client environment. DSFM ensures that the systems, best practices and processes of all franchises meet its own high standards.
Wentzel says that in the current difficult economic climate, even where young people establish businesses, it is sometimes difficult for them to be visible to large clients. “DSFM is ensuring that small and emerging enterprises in the maintenance space can effectively provide services to large clients, which will enable them to grow, create jobs in the process, and build small businesses into larger businesses.
“For the client, the fact that the franchisees operate in accordance and under the guidance of an established market leader ensures that the quality and service levels meet the highest standard.”
This initiative has been recognised by the government as a potential contributor to job creation. In 2011 DSFM parent company Tsebo was one of the four successful applicants out of 3,000 to receive support from the national Job Fund.
“DSFM Delivery is currently being rolled out as an initiative that improves service at a local level, skills development, job creation, and community upliftment in SA,” says Wentzel.
Publication: Business Day
Date: Friday 17th May 2013