Thinking time

Thinking_Man_by_vmulliganAnother project was successfully concluded last month, and as is often the case at such times it gave way to a degree of introspection. In fact, with two substantial pieces of work occurring back to back, this is the first time for some eighteen months or so that I’ve actually been able to stop and consider the high (and very occasional low) points, and the learning to come out of each.

Both projects presented what might appear to be logistical difficulties. The first was a total FM outsource encompassing nearly 100 sites and some 15 countries within Europe; the second – again, a total FM outsource – comprised some 2,200 sites, all in the UK but subject to a programme at least 30% shorter than would have been ideal. In each case, the client was initially uncertain as to whether the objectives that were set at the outset were realistic, but ultimately those objectives were exceeded by some margin. Despite the differences (and the two organisations were like chalk and cheese in every respect), successful delivery was based upon a few consistent principles.

  • Absolute understanding of the tender process, and particularly the critical path that remains constant from project to project
  • Appreciation of how that process needs to be adapted to suit the nature and scope of very different organisations, sectors, portfolios and indeed, cultures
  • The ability to convert client requirements into tangible service specifications, service levels and outputs; and to do this in a way which the supply chain is able to embrace
  • Experience of working both on client and supply sides, and utilisation of that experience to foster a relationship based on partnership and the proper balance of risk & reward
  • The knowledge that there’s no issue that will ever arise that can’t be managed, and the wherewithal to manage those issues when they do (inevitably) arise
  • However, another thing that was common to both both of these examples was the quality of the relationship between client and adviser, because when we really have the client’s trust, and when we’re really empowered to work as a member of the internal management team, the process becomes so much easier and so much more rewarding – for all parties.

    In fact, the last eighteen months have probably been the most rewarding of my career, at no time more so than when the bid leader of a very impressive (but in this case unsuccessful) supply chain organisation told me that she’d never enjoyed participating in a tender process as much as the one that had just come to an end. Indeed, every project is to some extent about building relationships, and it’s the thing I love most about what I do.

    Here’s to new challenges, then, and new relationships. And to another 18 months like the last.

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