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Three critical elements of the business by CT Sadanandan, VP & Head Corporate Services, Tata Communications Ltd

Three critical elements of the business by CT Sadanandan, VP & Head Corporate Services, Tata Communications Ltd

This is key function in any business environment. Over the last few years, the function has transformed from a back end ‘administration’ to being a business enabler in the forefront.  Essentially, there are three critical elements of the business that can be influenced and impacted by this function.

Talent: Attracting and retaining the best talent is a major challenge for all businesses and is only going to get daunting in a fast developing economic environment. From the FM perspective, the impact is driven from the workplace – the facilities provided, safety and security at the workplace and employee support services such as travel, mobility support, transportation, cafeteria, etc. So the facilities function needs to create the environment that keeps the employees happy and engaged at the workplace – both in terms of the physical office environment and the enablement through support provided at the workplace.

Risks: The functional operations carry a very large variety of risks associated to business and organisational reputation. Often these risks impact not only the organisation’s own business but can have cascading impact on the customers business, the consequences of which can be  colossal. Over and above there is a susceptibility to major fraud risks. The functional role is in continuous evaluation of the potential risks and proactively implementing measures to eliminate the opportunities or probabilities of such risks.
Costs: Today all organisations are under tremendous cost pressure and that provides an opportunity to this function to create value.   It is not cost reduction but value creation what needs to be focussed on. Get more for the buck you spend, innovate and change the ways we manage the services and related costs – the opportunity is huge and continual.

The challenges for FMs are multifaceted. There is no “One size Fit All” solution that will work as each business environment is unique. The leaders in the function need to service drive quality and efficiency through innovative methods and by using the best management and technology tools. Another challenge is the resource pool. Traditionally, the function has not been seen as an exciting career option. So, it does not attract the best of talent and the resultant challenge in operational delivery, service quality and the negative impact on the business.

Fortunately in the past two decades, with the advent IPCs in the market driven by IT/ITES, BFSI business boom and newer businesses coming into India, we have witnessed some change that many professionals are opting for this functional role. However, the challenge at the operational level still continues – efforts are required to enhance the stature of the function and make it a chosen career option. There is a need to develop the skill sets required for the entry level workforce, show them a career path and keep them motivated.  This can be done in a collaborative manner by the industry, service providers and the experts in skill development.  

Another major challenge is the lack of standards and benchmarks that facilitates a uniform measurement of the services and thus the end value created. Collaboration among the leaders in the function across industries, through a professional forum will also propel the actions in this direction.  The overall growth in the business has led to proliferation of service providers and there is an opportunity to have better organisation and professional management.
It is estimated that the FM industry in India is growing at around 25% per annum and is poised to hit a billion USD mark by 2020. So how do we continuously maintain that position and deliver the expected business values. It calls for more professionals in the function, technology intervention that will help better efficiencies and an integrated model of operations.  It is better to put all the related support functions under one umbrella to facilitate focussed efforts to drive the common business values. FM needs to transform itself to the level of a Centre of Excellence.

The need to continually improve the service delivery is paramount. This can only be possible with a “thinking” approach than just doing. Every FM has to start his day with asking what can I do differently today to improve my service? One of the best practices that can  applied in the workplace is a game titled “All Is Not Well” – in this the FM team goes around with an open mind to see “what is not working” instead of an everything is fine mind set.
The physical aspects of workplace and the services provided therein impacts the employees, and thus organisational performance. A probable method to create the right workplace would be a 3D approach involving three steps: Discover what your business needs and what works for the organisation; Design in line with you discovery; and then Develop & Deliver. This approach can be successful with seamless collaboration of FMs, business they service, consultants and finally the architects who design the building/work floor.

Constant validation of the service quality and workplace quality is imperative for a continually improving environment. Appropriate measures and metrics need to be established to achieve this.  When it comes employee services nothing can substitute the basic aspect of “touch time” – be among them, feel their pulse and engage.

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