The number 2020 tends to conjure up thoughts of perfect (twenty twenty) vision, so it is almost ironic that, the immediate future feels less clear than usual. As the new decade starts, Brexit still dominates the headlines, the priorities of our new government are not wholly clear and there are some fundamental trust issues to address in construction and a lack of clarity around many pivotal investments.
Despite the backdrop of uncertainty, there is work out there and at FIS their mission is clear, it is to get members specified, work with members to set standards, get their best practice advice embedded in specifications (to improve quality and make their members lives easier), help where they can, manage day-to-day issues and to provide a collective hub to solve common problems and highlight opportunities.
People matters remain their top priority. Firstly they must ensure that individuals in their workforce in the finishes and interiors sector are competent to do the job. FIS's Working Groups are all now at various stages of developing competency frameworks to test and developing training tools to support improvement. Wherever they can, they look at what they can do to standardise supervision and share best practice in this field. At the same time, they need that (diverse) pipeline of new blood and they have the Fit-out Futures programme shaping how they recruit and induct more effectively and looking at how they work more closely with training providers to address fundamental failings in provision.
Process is number two on their list. There has been a lot of review following Grenfell, they have some new legislation in place and more changes in regulation and enforcement to come, but they mustn’t wait for this, they need to start to change now, to find ways to work together as a supply chain more effectively.
Through their Working Groups they are targeting improvements in productivity through reducing re-work. This is not just about what they can do better, but carrying the concerns of their members up the supply chain, looking at the key drivers of safety, quality, occupational health and sustainability to ensure they all collaborate more effectively and start to deliver the marginal gains required.
They can’t talk about process without referencing culture. How much of what FIS does, remains undermined by wrangling over variation, stressing over credit and tying ourselves up in knots with contracts that do not share or accurately reflect the risk individuals carry? 2020 brings a new government and with it they need a fresh approach. Without doubt some behaviours will change over time, but to elicit rapid and effective improvement they simply have to stop awarding contracts to companies who treat their supply chain with contempt!
Engagement with and promotion of members is another top priority for FIS. In the final quarter of 2019 they launched their new website, you will see further improvements to this during 2020 in terms of how it presents information and crucially how it projects their members. FIS will also be working closely with their new partner organisation Barbour ABI to extend their digital reach. FIS's new webinar programme too is aimed at helping break stuff down and make it more accessible and will continue to run Regional Contractor Forums (which have been very well received and provided excellent input into their programme).
Their final priority is to be primed and ready for change, to ensure that they are clear about how Brexit and any new legislation will impact you, ensure that you are briefed on changes to employment legislation coming through in April, new interpretations of Product Safety Regulations and how they will impact contractors and suppliers, changes to training and apprenticeship funding and of course the introduction of Reverse Charge VAT coming through in October – they’ll be dusting off the toolkit again this month!