Bangkok based facility solutions firm ‘IFS’ on expansion and adapting to customer demand during the pandemic
Writer: Phoebe Harper | Project Manager: Donovan Smith
With 30,000 employees and a healthy appetite for expansion, Integrated Facility Solutions’ (IFS) journey to becoming a global leader in facilities management (FM), seems guaranteed.
In its previous incarnation as ISS, a member of the Danish ISS group founded in 1901, IFS established a successful history of over 25 years as a leading provider of single services, including cleaning and security operations.
Since integrating its model and entering the FM market in 2012, adopting its new moniker just last year, Thailand-based IFS has worked with an impressive roster of clients. These include the country’s principal airport, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International, and Thailand’s largest duty-free mall.
Following a career in property management, Worapong Padungkirtsakul now serves as the CEO of IFS.
“Effective facility management can help businesses enhance their productivity and achieve their goals by streamlining operating costs and, just as importantly, allowing businesses to effectively allocate resources where they are most needed,” Padungkirtsakul says.
The company now offers a full gamut of facility services, spanning from security and cleaning, to technical and support services, all of which are provided through the IFS’s self-delivery model. By operating with a multi-faceted approach, where all services are integrated, IFS strengthens its ability to manage the services that they offer, eliminating the uncertainty and potential compromise in quality that can come from relying on third-party subcontractors. This approach also enables IFS to be highly cost-effective.
Since 1985, IFS has undergone various stages of expansion into different sectors. What began as a goal of becoming the world’s largest cleaning company in 1997 soon morphed into other targets. The acquisition of MPA Securitas Limited in 2004 kick-started the company’s branch off into security services. In 2010, as the firm’s attention turned to support services, Bangkok-based ‘Golden Mind Services’ was also assimilated into the IFS group.
Most recently, IFS has embarked on a large contract with a leading Thai bank with world-class financial solutions.
“This is a large contract, and it represents a very good start to the year for us. We are providing them with facilities management by way of Building Managers and Admin/Finance Support as well as engineering and technical services, cleaning, and security,” Padungkirtsakul comments.
Strength in suppliers
Turning to talk of IFS’s supply chain management, Padungkirtsakul says the selection process is of “paramount importance”, as are the criteria that they expect suppliers to meet. IFS works with just a few chosen partners to give them confirmed volume throughout the year.
“We have strict codes and rules for on-boarding a supplier that are compliant with not only the prevalent laws of the land but also with international standards,” Padungkirtsakul says.
“Once on-board, we take our relationships very seriously and work closely with our partners to ensure a win-win situation.”
For Padungkirtsakul, the challenges of the current pandemic have highlighted and even strengthened the “mutual trust and respect” that exists between the company and suppliers.
“It is a testimony to our relationships with our partners that even in the COVID-19 era, we never faced a shortage of cleaning material, masks, or PPE for either our staff or our customers.”
IFS dedicates similar attention to the welfare of its sizeable workforce.
“Human Resources has always been a top priority for us – for the obvious reason that people are at the core of our business. More than any of our competitors, we invest HSE resources into making sure that our work environments are safe. Additionally, our employee relations department works tirelessly to improve communications among all our staff – Thais and foreigners alike.”
The “people-oriented” nature of the company’s work extends above all to the customer. By prioritising customer satisfaction and ‘peace of mind’, IFS is keen to maintain the highest standards of quality. “We do this by truly listening to our customers and designing solutions that meet their sector’s specific needs. Indeed, our people are experts in the sectors they serve, which enables them to go above and beyond client expectations.”
Enhancing the effective interaction between people and technology was one of Padungkirtsakul’s original motives for entering the working world of service management.
“I always felt that more could be done to manage facility services in order for properties to be more technology-oriented while still maintaining the people-oriented nature of the services,” he says.
This philosophy is evidenced in the myriad examples where technology is embraced across the company’s operations. For instance, IFS uses Cloudtime to monitor attendance and access real-time reporting online.
Within the healthcare sector, the ‘Emergency Discharge Management’ application developed by IFS helps hospitals manage their in-patient facilities and rooms, streamlining the entire process of cleaning as well.
IFS is among one of the first companies in Thailand to launch e-payslip system, improving working conditions while also contributing to sustainability.
“Most companies in Thailand still issue paper pay slips, but we try to reduce our use of paper and ink wherever possible,” Padungkirtsakul informs us. “IFS is committed to conserving the environment, and eliminating unnecessary waste is a big part of that commitment.”
IFS’s paper usage is also lessened by internal communications systems that allow for instant messaging.
“Knowledge sharing is crucial and with this system, everyone can gain access to the latest company information in real time.”
The same mobile platform, Bizconnect, is also utilised to improve site management during visits to customers, with tools designed to report and track data, perform high quality audits and collect invaluable feedback.
The use of QR codes that have been implemented company-wide streamline logistics across the board. This has been effective for distributing training and safety information, while enhancing security with ‘check-in’ at various checkpoints.
Furthering the use of technology to ensure client security, IFS customers also have access to 24-hour advanced control centres that offer constant monitoring.
“This cutting-edge technology optimises the security of our clients’ facilities,” Padungkirtsakul says.
Enduring the Pandemic
The need to develop new technologies has been accelerated by the ongoing pandemic.
“COVID-19 has had a massive and unprecedented impact on the industry. Health and hygiene awareness are at an all-time high.”
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, demand is not declining.
“More than ever before, businesses are demanding efficient, comprehensive, flexible, and less labor-reliant service offerings,” Padungkirtsakul says.
IFS has been proactive by technologically enhancing their facility solutions in order to reduce the risks for customers.
Above all, flexibility is key. “Customers would like more professional, efficient, flexible services that support their business plans. We are flexible in our service offerings to support our customers during this difficult time.”
An example of this can be seen in IFS’s work within the aviation sector.
“Before the COVID-19 crisis, we had a very high growth rate in aviation. Now that the travel industry has stalled due to the pandemic, our clients in aviation can access our professional facility solutions as and when they need them.” Full services can resume once the travel industry is back on its feet. Such flexibility is extremely reassuring for our clients.”
Looking to the future
While IFS has its sights set on further expansion into the healthcare sector, they are also excitedly anticipating a new bidding project with a leading airline in Asia Pacific to provide comprehensive facility services for all of their offices and stations across Thailand, including a new training academy.
“This will be an excellent and exciting project for us to work on. We have very strong capabilities to serve the aviation sector and we are thrilled to expand our services with this leading regional airline,” Padungkirtsakul tells us.
He concludes by expressing his total confidence in IFS’s abilities. “Our expertly delivered facility solutions set the stage for our clients to reach their full potential. That’s why so many leading companies trust IFS.”
Continuously striving to be a leader in facility management, IFS is always on the lookout for investment opportunities to expand capabilities and assist operations. The company shows no signs of slowing down