The case for global and local standards in effective facilities management

Global Account Director Claire Harman explains how ISS meets the high expectations of its global banking clients by harmonising local and global standards to provide great workplace experiences —and empowering its placemakers to deliver “real improvements” through facilities management services.

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Ask 10 people how they would define ‘high standards’ in integrated facilities management (FM), and you will likely get 10 different answers. The concept of standards is made all the more complex when an organisation such as ISS is tasked with maintaining exceptionally high global standards for key banking clients while also tailoring its FM services on a local level.

This is the challenge faced by ISS Global Account Director Claire Harman, who is active in the international banking sector. “Global account management is very much an influencing and negotiating role,” she explains, “and that goes for everything we do—including the upholding of global and local standards. Being respectful of the varying agendas among different types of stakeholders is always a critical element of achieving success.”

Claire appreciates that her clients expect ISS to be the experts in service delivery “because that’s precisely our role”, she says. “We partner with our clients on workplace, on technology, on cleaning, on food—and in all of those areas, we bring the expertise.”

Ensuring stability across ISS’s global offerings means providing this level of expertise while constantly adapting to location-specific nuances. “We always begin with an assessment of a client’s needs, where we look beyond the outcomes and define the key business drivers,” says Claire. “Then, we pick our way through local differences to deliver a globally consistent service and product.”

How to "earn the commute"
So, what does this approach look like when put into practice? Claire points to one of her global key accounts: a leading bank based in central Europe. With the partnership dating back to 2006, ISS has increasingly worked with the organisation to provide reliable FM services across its European locations.

“This account was interesting and challenging from a global standards perspective,” explains Claire. “It became a journey of scalability, where we were aware of local differences and why some of those differences had to remain for economic reasons. We assessed what could be deployed in each location and how we could create the best possible solution.”

However, making the business case for high global standards in FM is not straightforward because “it is all about value—and value isn’t always the most visible return on investment”. Within the banking sector, for example, talent retention, employee productivity and bringing people back into the workplace are now critical business drivers. “We talk about ‘earning the commute’ within ISS, where our FM services make it worthwhile for people to come in,” says Claire.

Responding to this challenge may involve empowering a team in one region to establish the standards framework—and then helping others to meet these goals. Claire highlights the impact of this approach in her client’s preparations to return to the workplace, post-pandemic. “We chose Poland to take the lead because it is an important country for this particular banking client, and we also have a very talented ISS team there,” she explains. “Our key account director for Poland developed a set of standards that could subsequently be deployed across the bank’s complete European portfolio. And it proved to be a very effective solution."


Global account management is an influencing and negotiating role, and that goes for everything we do—including the upholding of global and local standards

Claire Harman, Account Director, ISS

Maintaining momentum and mobilising feedback 

Training teams on the ground is another crucial consideration when managing the balance between local and global standards. “We establish and agree on FM behaviours with our clients from the outset,” says Claire. “What do we want to achieve, and what do we stand by, from a partnership perspective? Once established, we train our placemakers in those behaviours.”

Regular checks are put in place to ensure client needs are being met. “We are always looking to improve how we cascade the latest iteration of our promise to the client. And we also engage with our placemakers and collect their ideas on how and where we can make real improvements—in areas like sustainability, for example. Employing our own people within the business, and mobilising their feedback, means that we can make a big impact quickly.”

Data has become another way of establishing and differentiating service standards. “How we collect data is becoming increasingly important,” says Claire. “Rather than being measured as an outcome, data must be considered in advance—because that is how you gather evidence and create transparency.”

She notes that, in this area, ISS’s global platform is hugely beneficial when seeking to create and maintain both regional and global standards. “We can examine data at a very granular level—right down to individual task orders, for example. We can access regional views and review commercial and operational information across all countries. And that keeps us agile.”

Beyond this, one of the organisation’s greatest strengths is its ability to excel in a “partnership environment”. As Claire says, “We have a clear line of sight—right through from a client’s global needs to the individuals delivering our services. That, combined with the data, is what really sets ISS apart.”

About Claire

Claire Harman has worked at ISS for more than a decade. As Global Account Director, she oversees partnerships with clients around the world to provide great workplace experiences through facilities management services.