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April 2021

Enterprise partnership keeps MOD Main Building staff safe

Image of Modus Services Building

Jon Brazier, Operations Director – Vercity.

Modus Services Ltd is the PFI special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the Ministry of Defence Main Building and is one of the many management services agreements (MSA) provided by Vercity. This is a report of successful Enterprise collaboration.

Modus utilised the Enterprise approach to collaborative working to maintain compliance and the continuation of services throughout MOD Main Building during the pandemic, and also delivered critical and rapid change to accommodate reactionary teams and new ways of working to keep critical staff operational and safe.

The Enterprise Partnership consists of the Modus client, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and its facilities management (FM) partners Skanska and Amey. 

Having embarked on achieving accreditation for BS 11000 with DIO in 2016, recertification to ISO 44001 was achieved in late 2019, followed soon after by certifying the partnership between the two FM providers, creating a unique four-way “Enterprise” partnership. Little did we know how critical this journey and achievement would be to reacting to the impact and challenge that Covid-19 would bring to the MOD.

It is important to understand that the relationship was long founded between the four parties, initially coming together to work in a single office in 2009, physically taking down the barriers to collaborative working and paving the way for an open, trustworthy, and respected relationship and singular common mission, to support Main Building by delivering safe, secure and effective services.

Dialogue

The first scenario planning took place in February 2020 as we saw the events beginning to unfold. Business continuity plans were assembled, and critical services, personnel and outputs were identified. Minimum staffing levels and interventions were identified to maintain statutory and contract compliance as well as new ways of working across the Building. Open and constructive dialogue led to an early agreement of the commercial routes to facilitate rapid change and recognition of Government guidance and policy, and authority-instructed changes.  

This enabled the Enterprise to work together as a true cross functional team totally focused on providing the equipment and facilities to support critical staff and business outputs. As the restrictions and requirements became clearer,  we were able to reduce staff  whilst creating split teams to establish resilience. New and additional supply chains were opened across the Enterprise  to create multiple channels for new products such as hand sanitiser in significant quantities  as well as new cleaning materials, delivery equipment and personal protection equipment. 

Innovative solutions

The urgency to provide at sustainable value-for-money was understood across the Enterprise, and creative and innovative solutions were provided for the new challenges including in-house manufacture of sanitiser stands and dispensers, signage design and production from in-house reprographics, clearance of furniture, new delivery services and food supplies from catering outlets, additional cleaning processes, installation of new office equipment as well as recognising all of the hard FM impacts from reduced occupancy and usage. 

All of this was managed by a completely new overarching governance process including daily operational reviews for all members of the Enterprise and the Customer. Weekly senior meetings covered critical, high level actions, giving clarity of priority, responsibility, and  delivery. 

There is no doubt that there was significant pressure on the Enterprise to deliver. Our long-standing relationship and formalised processes and governance allowed split-shift working and extensive use of video conferencing to work effectively from the outset. Rapid deployment of new IT systems and equipment supported remote working, ensuring that all parties within the Enterprise were on shared platforms and able to share data and information seamlessly. 

Long hours and new responsibilities were taken on and, importantly, recognised by senior members of the MOD, upholding the collaborative way of working across the Enterprise. 

Working in the MOD Main Building fosters a sense of common purpose and pride to “do your bit”. Formalising a collaborative way of working strengthens the trust between partners to enable significant, critical change, knowing that there is a dependable network of colleagues, working practices and formal process to underpin decision making, open dialogue and commitment to deliver exemplar service to the MOD. 

It is of course a “people thing”. Collaborative working is successful at MOD because the framework and structure of ISO 44001 is delivered by great people with an aligned, common goal complemented by a long-term strategic aim all the way to handback (and beyond)! Vercity committed the resource  to Modus to achieve and excel with collaborative working, and  is now taking the best practice and learning from how Modus worked with DIO, Skanska and Amey during the pandemic impacts, to take back and include in its business strategy. 

At the time of writing, the Enterprise is now coming together to look at the strategy for increasing occupancy and managing the wellbeing of staff as year-long working habits begin to change again. Collaboration is not just about working together on the here and now, but coming together to align strategic thinking and excelling in the intelligent management of assets

Read more about our collaborative work on the MoD Main Building here.

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