This year's Leaders' Forum, 'Contracts across borders', explores what's required for a contract to operate successfully across more than one country, with all the benefits that can bring – better value, increased efficiencies and international brand recognition.
"One of the most significant themes to arise during the 2019 Leader's Forum is the importance of localisation. All too often the focus is on the agreement or contract for service delivery between the demand organisation and the supplier, not the implications of the cross-border operation for supply chain, social norms and legislative requirements,” says Steven Gladwin, chair of IWFM’s International regional group, which led the report. He adds: “The success of cross-border agreements is about much more than the contract, it depends on a mobilisation process led by a team that takes time to listen, check and implement in tandem with those who understand the local market."
Collaboration is at the heart of the report's findings, as consultation with local teams is urged to achieve the best results, rather than blindly imposing terms and conditions. To do this, as facilities’ professionals, we must acknowledge that there are teams beyond our own out there with specialist knowledge and expertise. By admitting this, we can work better with locally based teams to create contracts that work for everyone.
The 2019 Leaders' Forum highlights in particular the spec for skills required by international teams, such as language, communication and management expertise. This doesn't mean to say that teams, or clients, in other countries must be able to communicate fluently in English only. Language is a shared need, which means UK-based teams must also consider how to build the capacity to communicate beyond it if necessary, not only to be courteous but also to maximise the chances of ensuring that what's being delivered is both acceptable and correct.
We now turn to the practicality of the number of organisations that can work in this way. There are few truly international organisations that can deliver seamless cross-border contracts – the offering is limited, which means clients have fewer suppliers to choose from, meaning they may not always get the best value for money. Not to mention the challenges that political change, such as Brexit, could pose. That's where upskilling comes in.
By upskilling our teams, we can create an industry of choice; an industry where clients have the option to choose the most suitable for their requirements, not just the least costly.
If you take nothing else from this year's International Leaders' Forum, accept the need to create a global team, with varied language and communication capabilities. In doing so, we can move facilities management forward and create better contracts across borders.
For further insight, view the full Leaders' Forum.