THE VALUE OF PARTNERSHIP: Q&A with Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE: IRM) is a global business dedicated to storing, protecting, and managing physical and digital information. It does business with over 95% of the Fortune 1000 and has over 120,000 clients worldwide. With its headquarters in Boston, the company serves clients through 1,450+ facilities—over 88Msf—across more than 57 countries. How do they manage such a large portfolio? Sarah Abrams, senior vice president of global real estate, and Doug Berry, vice president of project delivery, shed some light.
Do you have a global approach to real estate management or is it more locally handled?
Abrams: On the operating side, we deliver in two models. The first we call direct delivery. This is where Global Real Estate is directly responsible for the management and maintenance of facilities. We deliver this model to over 77% of our worldwide portfolio. For the balance of the portfolio we use a “center of excellence” approach in which local teams are responsible for facility maintenance, but we have global policies that they must follow.
Berry: For capital projects, we have a project delivery lead in each of our major regions who are responsible for capital project delivery. Each of these leaders leverages outsourced partners as project managers given the huge geography each is responsible for. We have global performance specifications we provide to any developer or landlord we work with to ensure they understand our requirements.
How do you choose your design and construction partners?
Abrams: Initial selection is usually through a competitive process. We are really looking to select partners. We like to work with people who learn who we are and what we need. We work with different partners on different types of jobs depending on the type of expertise we need.
Berry: In North America, once we have those partners on board, we work with our procurement organization to create a master scope so we can make a call anywhere in North America and start work with a simple document because the full contract is already in place.
Why do you like having consistent partners?
Abrams: Speed, work quality and the fact they come to learn our requirements and needs —not just physical specs, but also around financial reporting, project reporting, etc.
Berry: We have also found that firms resource and service repeat clients better than a client that is only a one-off.
What are the biggest challenges to managing corporate real estate? How do your partners help you solve them?
Berry: Budgets and schedules are so critical. Structure Tone has an excellent estimating group that helps us value engineer right from the beginning. Understanding costs and being able to control them is really important for us and Structure Tone is really good at helping us do this. Also, we know that when we work with Structure Tone anywhere, we can count on Kristin Poulin to ensure that the team in that city understands our expectations and our requirements. She educates them so we don’t have to. For example, we’re kicking off a project with Structure Tone in Dallas and we’re seeing the results of her involvement now in the schedules they’re putting together. I don’t worry about the CM process at all because we know it’s handled at a high level in the organization.
Abrams: We like that we have a high-level, single point of contact for all of STO in Kristin. No matter where we’re doing a project, we can make one call.