Harry's Balancing Act

When it comes to balancing budgets and working on big projects, Holman Fenwick Wilan's Head of FM is at his happiest.  David Strydom of PFM magazine reports, including their use of the Concept Evolution fully web-enabled CAFM solution.

During a recent health and safety seminar held by Assurity Consulting at Holman Fenwick Willan's Friary Court office in London, head of FM Harry Cox delivered a short presentation in which he wryly compared the experiences of trying to change FM culture at traditional, conservative companies and fast moving, progressive companies. In the latter, he noted, changing direction is like slicing through water in a speedboat; in th former, the experience is slower, like turning around a cruise ship.

Either way, the vessel movement is generally in the right direction, and is helped along by several big projects that Harry relies on for forward momentum. "Projects are a big focus because there's so much that needed adapting, changing and improving to bring it up to a good industry standard. We're rolling out Condeco to manage the room bookings and other resources, so that's an example of a project that has taken up a great deal of time with planning, testing, training and - more importantly - working on user engagement."

In addition, HFW recently rolled out a new fleet of multifunctional devices (MFDs); so Harry undertook a request
for information (RFI). "Office equipment manufacturer and supplier Ricoh was successful with that; we worked throughout weekends rolling out the fleet, we also managed to reduce and amalgamate the fleet. This had further complications owing to various interfaces with time and work recording software."

Harry says HFW recently fitted out the third floor in an adjoining building and moved IT over. "We created some dedicated internal meeting space, to reduce the impact and increase availability of the client meeting rooms. There are always operational challenges, however I have a good management team, including my main contractors and collaborators, who pick up much of this aspect of the work."

So it's no surprise then that Harry regards projects as his main focus - upgrading and updating direction. HFW is also 'very good at health and safety', he points out. "We work with Assurity Consulting and always have very good reports on our health and safety."

Under these circumstances, it's fair to assume there's no such thing as an average workday in Harry's career. "I don't believe anyone who wants an average day chooses to work in FM. There just aren't any. There was very limited business continuity for the firm. Over a period of a year we have formulated a full plan which has been tested through a practical exercise and amended where necessary; it's a constantly changing and evolving process. I will now look to roll it out internationally. I also look after the real estate for London and oversee the real estate internationally."

Harry explains that the concept of an average day goes out the window when he is told how quickly some things need to be done. "Here's a good example: recently we were in the final stages of a process to move the Paris office. On the Tuesday at 4pm we decided we'd potentially do it; by 4.30pm I'd booked my train seat; I was up at 4:30am the next day to travel to Paris, where I worked for five hours, met the office manager and real estate professionals, undertook a couple of site visits, and travelled back home."

The effort pays off, though. "Since I've been here, the department has changed significantly in terms of structure, workflows and management. I had to get back to the operational basics before I could look at a more strategic role, which is what I'm doing now, and looking at creating, among other things, a fully global property portfolio for the HFW partners. This industry is fundamentally friendly and I know enough people in the industry that I can ask for favours and advice: if you look after and help other people, they look after you, and you build good relationships."

Harry has complete responsibility for three offices in London - Friary Court, Boundary House (which has a link bridge to the 4th floor, while also occupying the 3rd and 7th floors), and a large storage facility used primarily for archived files. He also oversees the international buildings so if there are any tasks related to real estate, fitout etc, his approval and input are required.

"In September I went to the Dubai office where we're undertaking a reasonable sized fit-out project, taking on additional space. I went to meet the primary contractor to ensure everything was going smoothly, and to set up weekly project calls. I will then go back once the project is nearing completion; I did the same in the Geneva offices recently."

In terms of his team, he now has only two direct reportees - down from seven. There are a further seven HFW direct employees in his team while document services has recently been outsourced to MITIE Client Services, taking the employees through a TUPE process. "We're still in a transitional phase although the relationship is already proving valuable for both HFW and MITIE," he says. "My overall staff responsibility, if you include HFW, MITIE, Lexington Catering and Shield Guarding personnel, is for about 60 people."

For HFW, the importance of building information modelling (BIM) is not as yet fully realised but Harry is determined it will be. "BIM hasn't entered our bloodstream yet. Personally, I think CAFM and software modelling is invaluable. When I came here, everything was in-house on a spreadsheet - with very limited information - so you're then lacking that management information to say what are we doing?, when are we doing it?, how do we know we're meeting legislative requirements?, do we have effective space utilisation and if something happened how could we prove anything? That's what our computer systems are designed for, and it just works so well."

Now that the team is managing PPMs and reactive jobs using a new CAFM system, Harry says they can produce
reports to understand trends which they couldn't before. "It quantifies their time, ensuring from a management point-ofview that there aren't too many people - or not enough people - undertaking a specific task. It's a benefit as long as you get the right software, and ensure the right data is entered. I've seen where software hasn't been implemented properly and it ends up being more of a problem and costing huge amounts. I enjoy networking events where I can find out more about software. I've set up my own event where people can share ideas, explain how software has worked for them, and how certain suppliers have worked for them."

In London, maintenance for HFW is managed through Concept Evolution (a product of FSI), that was recommended to Harry through PMP Building Management. "They helped us install this software, providing an unrivalled level of support and training to ensure the system was bedded in correctly. I worked with this contractor at Lehman Brothers so I know the team well, which was a big benefit. Their support has been phenomenal in installing the Concept system. We don't have many reactive tasks so most of the work we do is PPM." HFW is setting up a strategic lifecycle replacement/maintenance programme to ensure the financial liability over the term of our lease is fully understood.

Like most FMs, Harry has to grapple with the challenges of balancing hard and soft services, and in 2012 he ensured his department was restructured to bring out the best in both. "I have hard and soft service managers. When I restructured, I purposefully set it up this way as the lines of responsibility were previously unclear. Overall I ended up with three managers - including the document services manager, whose department was outsourced to MITIE."

While Harry agrees hard and soft services are different, and require different management approaches and mindsets, he argues they've ultimately got the same goal - to maintain the building, property and service, regardless of whether they're considered internal or external facing. "It comes down to who you view as clients. We have clients of the firm and they're ultimately our overall clients. However I made it clear to my team our clients are actually every person in the building who doesn't work in our department. I have three in-house maintenance staff who have been here a while and know many people; but as far as they and I are concerned, they're client-facing because they see and interact with internal clients everyday so it's only right they present the right decorum when going about their business."

The soft services touch on both internal and external clients, Harry explains. "With catering, for instance, we provide services to both. I don't hold one type of service above the other as I think both have an exceptionally important role to play. I have weekly meetings with all three managers so we have a full understanding of what each of us is doing in the coming week; we review what hasn't worked in the previous week and how we can support each other. I try to draw them together as they're intrinsically linked. We are afterall viewed as the FM department, so it's irrelevant where in the hierarchy they potentially see themselves."

Harry was working at Lehman Brothers on 11 September 2001 when hijacked planes in the US changed the way the world views security. The sheer scale of the 9/11 attacks led to cash being thrown at security, regardless of the amount of money involved. "(The instruction) was just go and do it, do whatever we need to do," he recalls. "Invariably money (for extra security) was borrowed from areas such as health and safety because,
you know, it's just health and safety."

In hindsight, however, that kneejerk reaction wasn't particularly wise. "What are the odds of a terror attack? It's
more likely your building will burn down or somebody will injure themselves and sue you for a huge amount of money," he says. "There has to be a balance (reasonably practicable), and that's what FM comes down to - that balancing. Even when I have set my budgets, I'm thinking, ‘I could probably take money from there and move it elsewhere.' It's about being smart with your budgets and financial management."

This forensic approach to his job appears to be a mark of Harry's management style. I ask him if it helps him where it matters - in the boardroom. "Law firms operate differently to most organisations," he says. "When you work for an insurance company or a big global bank, there's a hierarchy that has to be adhered to with respect to authorisation and sign off values; when you're working on projects that are worth more than £1m, sign off becomes particularly hierarchical. At HFW it's slightly different."

The reason for this, Harry explains, is that the core members of the management board are the practice groups who deal with the legal side of business. There is also an administration board made up of the business services. "With regard to financial authority, and authority to influence or change things, I have quite an autonomous role and a good relationship with my line manager - the chief operating officer - and with the Managing Partner." Harry provides examples of what he wants to achieve, the reasons for doing it and the benefits. "Usually the feedback is Well, that's great. Sometimes FMs in other firms don't have that freedom. In my experience, there is a lack of authority given to FMs, mainly owing to a lack of understanding of the FM profession. I haven't as yet made any ridiculous decisions that have come back to bite me, so I'm hoping I keep it on an even keel."

The story of how Harry came to select MITIE Client Services to manage document services at HFW is particularly insightful because it shines a light on how HFW works, and because it illuminates the social, word-of-mouth mechanics at the very heart of the outsourcing industry.

"When I decided to outsource document services, I turned to four different-sized providers - I don't have preference owing to a company's size - it's just down to who will be the right fit," he explains. "I'd worked with all four providers. I'd been through outsourcing previously with one of them (who didn't get the final contract) and they were very good - they ran a very close second to MITIE."

But, crucially, Harry wouldn't make a decision until he'd sounded out his peers in the industry. "Word-of-mouth and networks are crucial in this industry. I attend networking events and listen to what others say. Ironically I didn't have high regard for MITIE prior to them working here. The reason is I worked with them previously and, owing to the relationship with the account manager, it was a bad experience. However, at a networking event I met Julie Cortez, the head of FM at Channel 4 (and now chair of BIFM), through Liz Kentish, previously of BIFM."

Julie used MITIE and invited Harry to see them in action. "I was pleasantly surprised and decided to give them a chance," he says. "They came into our offices to present and I was blown away." Several months on and the relationship between the companies is flourishing.

MITIE isn't Harry's only contractor, however. He says Lexington provides‘a very good, innovative approach to catering while Shield Guarding provides HFW with manguarding, and Principle Cleaning is responsible for cleaning. "We have quite a few contractors and we're trying to narrow them down. A portion of the M&E work is completed in-house."

Harry says he uses Concept Evolution, a CAFM system made by FSI for managing assets, PPMs, reactive jobs etc. "I created a helpdesk because we never had one here," he says. "It was previously e-mails that kept getting lost. Now the software is installed we have a process where people can call or e-mail; we've even set up a new internal address called FM Support (which worked because we already had IT Support). We log the job in the software, they get a return e-mail saying it has been logged, detailing the unique number."

There are service level agreements built into the software - self-imposed SLAs and KPIs that Harry has published to the business. "The logged job then gets allocated to an internal or external engineer where appropriate. A job card is created and the work is then completed. The engineer will state how long it took them to complete, sign it off, then FM Support desk put that back into the system and close the job."

The person who requested the service is told their job has been completed and is informed of the outcome. If it goes on hold, he or she gets an e-mail as well with an estimated rectification time. "This may be a simple system that many others are using, but it was a huge step forward for this firm," Harry says. "So from a service provision point-of-view, it's a great tool. Previously, somebody may have e-mailed Maintenance but the e-mail may then have been lost or mismanaged - at least they now know everything is tracked throughout. When I came here, there were many complaints about the FM team but that has been dramatically reduced with this system."

HFW also has a room-booking system although Harry declines to mention it by name as it's not fit for purpose. "We're going to strip it down and put in Condeco which I believe is - along with Data Craft - a market leader in room-booking or room-management systems. I've limited experience with using room-booking type systems so I spoke to people I know such as the corporate services director at Nomura because I used to report to him at LB."

"He gave me assistance on the challenges - what worked, what didn't etc. I've been fortunate in that the soft services manager also knows people who've used it in the industry as well. Again, it's going to help us knowing we're replacing our current limited system. One huge benefit we'll have from Condeco is there was no internal recharging system for catering when I took over; we've started to implement this. The costs are recharged internally by the software with limited human interaction."

Because a lot of information was picked up when HFW installed Concept Evolution, Harry says the company's assets are mostly being managed for it. "That means I can run reports and find out frequency of service visits, how old the asset is etc. We had a team from PMP Building Management who came in and looked in-depth at the assets - a full audit. We actually found assets that weren't on any register and were missing from the O&Ms.

"One thing I did it at Accuro FM was an asset lifecycle over 25 years, which is exceptionally speculative (anything past five years is pretty speculative). But we needed to have something to manage not only what we believe is the asset lifecycle but the financial lifecycle that went with it. It helps with strategic planning."

Harry is drawing up what he believes will be the asset management recycling for the HFW properties. "I need to know what major plant services or switch-out of equipment I should be aware of and the commercial impact of these. I enjoy the financial side of my job; with some FMs I talk to, it's not their thing but I enjoy setting budgets, financial planning and take great comfort in ensuring my budgets balance. I'm particular about my budgets (some may say controlling!) - how they look and how I'm perceived through them. Ultimately, everything boils down to the finances."

Energy efficiency - or rather the lack of it - is one of the major bugbears for many FMs but Harry seems to have the issue firmly under control at HFW. "I'm very enthusiastic on energy efficiency and the green agenda we have going on within buildings. We're fortunate to have PIRs everywhere with respect to lighting, and we use only energy efficient bulbs. We're taking this one step further with a programme of replacement to LEDs where practical."

One influential decision around which MFD HFW would use was the energy efficiency, CSR and general ‘green' credentials of not only the devices, but the company too. We have also commenced a review of the recycling in the London office. We will be taking on a new adaptive approach to engagement of staff. We've engaged with the managing partner and the COO and they're happy to back and sponsor this programme."

But sustainability isn't only about lighting. "We installed new carpets in the client area last year," Harry explains. "One big consideration was the environmental impact of us removing all the existing carpets, handing them to someone for disposal, then installing new carpets. We worked with Desso, which has a cradle-to-cradle process. We chose the new carpet partly owing to Desso taking away our existing carpet and recycling it. The carpet we purchased was made with recycled material."

It just sat nicely, and was a good thing to present back to the staff, says Harry. "It engaged the staff - suddenly someone will say: I'm keen on that, can I find out more? We've just changed our waste providers based on that exact principle - what do they do with food waste?, what do we do when we need to get rid of old desks?, how can we get them recycled? It's refreshing because during my career I've emptied and shutdown lots of buildings and had to remove desktops that can't be recycled. So I'm at a point that when I undertake fit-out projects, it becomes an influential point."

When the company buys furniture, Harry's consideration is: we are going to have to get rid of this at some point, how am I going to do so and what is the impact in terms of CSR and finances? He might not be around when it goes, he says, but he'd like to think that whoever takes his role can say: We can recycle this because we know that at point-of-purchase the environmental aspect had already been considered.