Total Facilities Management (TFM) can solve the problem of sprawling contractor admin by consolidating all your FM work with one provider. But it’s not the only option for controlling the contractor chaos.

For many companies the answer to the problems of increasing FM costs and inefficiencies is to outsource the entire function. No longer will they have to be responsible for managing multiple and complex supplier relationships. A TFM model can lever cost benefits and transfer operational risk to a highly resourced third party. It can free a company up to concentrate on running their business - rather than maintenance and janitorial duties. 

TFM model is a risk

But the TFM model has risks associated with it, too. Multi-year contracts breed complacency; service provision can end up being patchy and customer service can be poor.

Putting all your eggs in one contractual basket can risk further problems down the line. Carillion going bust was a warning shot for many.

Single service supplier model gives you more control

For businesses who choose to run and manage their own roster of suppliers, there are all the benefits of control over costs and relationships - the certainty that your buildings are being managed in the way you want. 

Having a healthy roster of approved contractors who can you call on rapidly to quote for a job should ensure you can:

  • Always find an available engineer to do a job
  • Always choose the most competitive bid
  • Keep your roster of contractors’ competitive and responsive
  • Be as agile as possible in your planning
  • Control your own priorities and strategic direction

But any advantage you gain from having a number of contractors to draw upon can be quickly wiped out if you haven’t got the right digital tools to control their activity and analyse results. 

And there’s always the danger that your roster can become overstuffed.

How many contractors can you keep track of?

The more contractors you have on your roster the more complicated your administration can become. There will be a natural limit on the number of contractors for whom you are prepared to go through all the due diligence, procurement and renewal processes to keep as an active partner.

At the same time, if you have too many contractors on your books, some of them may find they haven’t got a good chance of getting work from you and be less incentivised to bid for jobs.

When multiple contractor management holds you back

When it comes to managing contractors many businesses are held back by the sheer complexity of the digital challenge involved. Their list of contractors may become long and unwieldy because they lack the digital tools to rationalise and make performance based decisions about who to keep and who to let go.

There may be different suppliers who are used in different locations, different contractors responsible for different kinds of systems. There may be overlap and duplication. Record keeping may be spread over different systems making it difficult to see performance in context or make like-for-like comparisons with other suppliers,

Don’t rely on the Rolodex

Some FM may still have a mental or even physical ‘Rolodex’ of contractors who they call on to carry out work, based on past experience and trusted relationships, rather than hard data. Others may be trying to professionalise their operations, sending requests for quotes by email and recording responses in spreadsheets to manage further action. The result can still be confusion and inefficiency.

There may also be those who are using FM software to store contractor details, process work requests and send work orders to selected contracts, but they still may not have the critical reporting tools available to assess supplier performance.

Lack of digital tools can hold you back

The lack of automation, tracking and effective reporting involved in many FM’s daily handling of contractor relationships can prevent companies from:

  • Gathering meaningful contractor data
  • Getting the best price for the work they need done
  • Understanding which suppliers are performing best for them
  • Benchmarking supplier performance 
  • Improving performance over time

Faced with these challenges it’s no wonder that so many companies self-managing a roster of suppliers find it difficult to make strategic decisions to rationalise service provision and improve long term performance.

How can CAFM systems help?

Modern CAFM systems can answer many of these challenges, they can give you back granular control over relationships with your suppliers.

As soon as your contractors are set up in a single platform they can begin competing on a level playing field, so that you begin to assess their performance in a more impartial way.

Work orders and work request management 

Choosing the right CAFM system can help you automate the way work requests are handled. 

They can gather work order information and automatically send requests for quotes to the right contractors. They can sort contractors responses and let you select the best fit quote for you. They can track the job through to completion, allowing the contractor to report hours and invoice through the platform itself.


The CAFM system should then be able to report on key performance indicators, including:

  • Time to Respond
  • Time to Attend
  • Time to Fix
  • First time fix data 
  • Spend per supplier

All of the structured (and unstructured) data gathered should be available to you to see as tables, charts and complete bespoke reporting dashboards to help you drill down on the detail you need in whatever format you want:

  • Visualise how you and your suppliers are performing against targets
  • Aggregate SLA and KPI performance to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Ability to benchmark performance across suppliers
  • Analyse your total spending by contractor

Optimise performance, rationalise your roster

With this comparative data at your fingertips it becomes easier to make the right decisions about which contractors to retain. It makes it easier to rationalise and optimise the roster over time.

So, how many contractors is too many?

Every business is different so there is no right answer to this question. You need a decent roster of contractors to draw on to cover all your needs, but you don’t want the hassle of maintaining an overstuffed list of suppliers.

Attempting to self manage multiple suppliers without the right digital tools can end up as a chaotic series of shots in the dark. 

A CAFM with the right contractor management and analytical tools can help you quickly establish which contractors are the most valuable to you and optimise their overall performance in a strategic way.

TFM and other consolidation models are not the only way to tame the chaos, CAFM systems can give you the tools to make your supplier relationships more manageable and profitable.

How does FM Software need to change 1.1

Josh Greibach

Written by Josh Greibach

Josh Greibach is the CEO & Co-Founder of Expansive Solutions. His passion is delivering value through data-driven strategies. With a proven track record in leading successful teams for both B2C and B2B, Josh now focuses on rocking the world of facilities management with his FM software. He's here to revolutionise the industry and help businesses thrive in our digital-driven world.

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