What happens when it is felt necessary to change service providers or the mode of service delivery? How can this be done without disrupting normal operations? A new British Standard – BS 8892:2014 Transition management of facility-related services: Code of practice – has been designed to deal with such situations.
Transition is the process of moving from one service arrangement to another; in the simplest case, from one service provider to another. Changing service providers has the potential to cause disruption to normal operations and can impact the end users of the services affected, as well as incurring additional costs for the facility owner, operator or tenant. The issues arising from a change in an existing arrangement can be off putting. Moving from an established, familiar situation to one that is unfamiliar is bound to be worrisome, perhaps for no other reason than uncertainty over how best to manage such a change. Understandably, facility owners, operators and tenants might be disinclined to break with an existing arrangement, despite some dissatisfaction with it. Waiverers might even draw on one of Abraham Lincoln’s oft-quoted expressions: let’s not swap horses in midstream! Well, if the delivery of a service really needs to change then it should – no ifs, buts or maybes. The question is then about how to do it successfully in the face of some measure of risk and uncertainty.
This new standard provides recommendations and guidance on managing changes to existing arrangements for service delivery and where there is a change in sourcing, such as a move from insourcing to outsourcing and vice versa. It applies to a range of situations from the replacement of one service provider by another, to bringing all services in house following a lengthy period of outsourcing. The standard incorporates recommendations that allow the approach to be scaled to suit the degree of complexity involved. In other words, the standard has been written to cater for a wide range of potential transitions and the risks they pose to normal operations and, consequently, to business continuity.
Types of transition
Outsourcing, insourcing and co-sourcing are broad options available to owners, operators and tenants in their facilities management. The most appropriate sourcing option, at a particular time, might not be entirely clear cut opening up the prospect of later change. Moreover, it can be safe to assume that, at some point in the future, it will become apparent that something has to change – that is in the nature of a dynamic working environment. For example, it might be necessary to modify the basis of the outsourcing model, even to move to insourcing, and perhaps for the first time. The rule is that the sourcing option should be subject to periodic review to be sure that it continues to offer best value for money and end-user satisfaction. The various types of transition are illustrated in the accompanying figure.
Transition is, in effect, a characteristic of service delivery and, as might be expected, is interwoven with procurement when outsourcing is involved. It is not, however, a subset of outsourcing, but a means for maintaining services whilst changing some aspect of their delivery. From the perspective of the end-users of those services, there should be no perceivable difference in the quality of service received during or after transition. For the owner, operator or tenant, there should be no threat to normal operations or, worse, business continuity from a change in service delivery.
A project-based approach to transition
Facilities management is concerned with the continuous delivery of services in support of the organisation’s core business. Transition management is, on the other hand, concerned with a temporary arrangement in which, typically, service delivery by one provider is phased out whilst another’s is phased in. Transition has to be planned, implemented and controlled over and above any arrangements for procuring services, where this applies, if there is to be no interruption in service delivery or drop in performance. For these reasons, transitions are best managed as projects, with clearly defined goals, scope, timescale, roles, resources, budget and success criteria. For facility managers, managing projects can represent a significant additional burden on top of a normal workload and so there is the need for a reliable process with which to plan and implement a transition project with a high degree of confidence in its outcome.
The new standard lays out a process within which facility owners, operators and tenants can plan a transition with confidence. Each of the steps necessary for successful transition are covered: planning transition, disruption and contingency planning, stakeholder engagement, types of transition, risk management, roles and responsibilities, knowledge acquisition, time planning and scheduling, resources, costs and budget, uncertainty management, implementation, mobilisation-demobilisation, control, phasing in, transfer of responsibilities and post-implementation review. It is a long list, but then it reflects the complexity that transition can sometimes present. For a major company with several sites and a decision to change the mode of delivery for most services, the stakes are high and the consequences of getting anything wrong could be substantial.
The time required for transition can range from a few weeks to several months. Necessity might dictate that an existing service has to be terminated forthwith and a replacement brought in and started up immediately with no loss of service for end-users. This would be more the exception than the rule. Nonetheless, dealing with such a situation falls within transition as part of contingency planning and is covered in the standard as one of a set of measures for increasing certainty in outcomes. For most transitions, there is time to plan, to evaluate options and to mobilise the appropriate response. There is, however, a risk in assuming that, because a decision has been taken to change, it must be done as quickly as possible. Proper planning and preparation will reveal the form of the most appropriate response and the time that it should take. Whilst, it might be possible to expedite some steps, none should be omitted, with strict control exercised over the agreed scope, time and cost of the transition until it has been agreed that transition has been successfully accomplished.
Combining best practices
In preparing the standard, account has been taken of existing British, European and international standards, notably those covering procurement of facility-related services, outsourcing, business continuity management, project management and risk management. Users of the standard can therefore be assured that it embodies best practices in each of these areas and is supported by explanation and key examples. A master schedule for managing a major transition is included too, along with a detailed checklist of actions that can be used through the transition process to ensure that relevant issues are adequately addressed. Looking ahead – planning ahead – is a key determinant of success in transition because of the need to explore and make due allowance for circumstances that might be different to those expected. The standard helps the user to understand how to deal with these risks and the inherent uncertainty that surrounds change.
BS 8892 is one amongst a number of interlocking standards published by BSI in facilities management that can provide even the most experienced and disciplined owners, operators and tenants with practical advice, new insights and the chance to enhance the quality of service delivery and end-user experience. Since this standard is a code of practice, users can claim compliance with it by demonstrating that they have followed its recommendations.
BS 8892:2014 Transition management of facility-related services: Code of practice is available from the BSI Shop.