In any facilities management operation, the effective delivery of service contracts will be a priority. Where multiple services are provided, it is critical that there is a professional facilities management function in place to co-ordinate and manage the contracts. This will be particularly important where multiple services are provided by specialist service providers. The importance of the intelligent client function cannot be stressed too strongly in delivering value for money facilities management services.
The Intelligent Client Function (ICF) involves the retention of a degree of resource in-house in order to manage, audit and monitor at a high level, those services which are outsourced. It is important to recognise that the ability to successfully administer outsourced FM contracts requires the retention of knowledge in-house with regard to the technical and operational aspects of the services.
Best practice suggests that the client should avoid duplicating skills in-house where a service is largely outsourced in order to maximise the value associated with outsourced service provision.
This means that the resource required to fulfil this role will be largely strategic in nature but with an appropriate knowledge and understanding of the operational requirements of service delivery. The ICF represents the internal unit established to interface with, and audit the performance of outsourced service providers.
In the event of an outsourced service solution the client must give careful consideration to the undertaking of this role. It is important to appoint the right persons with the relevant skills capable of undertaking this role as this is a strategic, rather than an operational, role which also requires a good technical understanding.
It is recommended that the ICF should have the following key skills / abilities at a minimum:
- Contract management experience
- Personnel management skills
- Financial management skills
- Broad technical knowledge
- Detailed understanding of the needs and requirements of CTRL as well as the management principles and strategies adopted by the organisation.
Effective contract management processes ensure that all parties to the contract fully meet their obligations as efficiently and effectively as possible, to satisfy the business and operational objectives needed from the contract, and particularly to provide value for money, while at the same time ensuring that the host organisation is at all times compliant in both statutory and contractual terms.