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Take the contract out of the drawer!

Landmark & Associates have undertaken a large number of facilities management contract reviews for a wide range of clients, from single buildings to large portfolios, in the UK and internationally.

One thing we have found is that it is very rare to find a completely compliant contract. Whilst often this is due to an inability to deliver the service properly more often than not we find that non-compliance is because both parties are unaware of what is in the contract.

My thoughts below may be self evident to some and to others will conflict with deeply held beliefs. My opinion is that a contract shouldn’t be left in a drawer; it must be actively managed!

Often when we are looking to re-tender contracts and we are looking to understand the needs for the FM service (and how they are changing); both the client and supplier are often unclear of current obligations.

We often hear:

“I didn’t know they were meant to do that as part of the contract”

“I wish I’d known because I think I paid twice for that service”

“I didn’t know we were meant to provide that service”

I have regularly heard that both parties should put their facilities management contract in a drawer and only take it out again, ready for the next procurement. It is often seen as a positive to the ongoing relationship not to have to refer to the contract.

Whilst I fully support the position that both parties should work collaboratively and supportively it is helpful to remind ourselves that well written contracts should have reflected the original intentions of the parties. At the point of agreeing a contract between a client and FM supplier, it is the moment the mutual intentions and objectives of both parties are captured. If there is a good process to capture changes then it should continue to reflect the ongoing requirements of the client.

In my view, no matter how good the relationship between client and supplier, a contract must be consulted from time to time. Even if it’s just to check whether everyone is still in agreement as to its content. FM contracts are often long and it is difficult for organisations (let alone individuals) to remember the varying obligations in a contract unless they refer to it.

If you do not check that both parties are delivering in accordance with the contract we often find when things go wrong that it becomes more difficult to enforce as you have to unpick lots of side agreements and working practices.

I think knowing the contract and having access to the contract can improve trust relationship and collaboration – it provides a framework to discuss issues and improvements. It gives the framework to make changes and re-align the FM service to reflect changing business need.


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