Facilities or Facility Management or just FM as many refer to it is an industry that supports an organization to achieve its objectives and goals through optimizing cost savings and efficiencies within the non-core areas of the business. Although this multi billion-dollar global industry has been established, for over 30 years, it is still misunderstood by many and is unknown to others. The purpose of this article is to define FM, its purpose, role and Critical Success Factors (CSFs), including how it can support organizations in meeting their goals.
The following aspects will be addressed in this article.
- A definition for Facilities Management?
- Associated Facilities Management terms and definitions?
- Facilities Management functions and services?
- Facilities Management interdependencies and success factors?
Facility or facilities management (FM) is a paradox that many people outside the profession and industry do not fully understand. We are generally aware that FM aligns with buildings and outsourcing of the non-core functions within an organization but beyond this level of understanding, it remains somewhat of a mystery. Unlike allied professions and industries such as human resources, construction, engineering, surveying, architecture etc., which are established and understood, FM is a relatively new concept in historical terms. Indeed, FM has come into its own only in the last 25–30 years or so. In addition to the lack of obvious clarity around its purpose, its definition can also be a little confusing and broad in scope, to say the least, particularly when compared to the allied professions and industries. In this article, we will examine FM, its definition, purpose, constructs, and its success interdependencies.
I have worked in the FM sector, since it became an industry in the UK in the late 1980’s. As a young graduate, cutting my teeth in construction on my very first project, the re-development of Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport, I was given the opportunity to take up a facilities management role with a leading international organization. At this time, the UK Government began replacing its Property Services Agency (PSA) and later Property Holdings (the departments responsible for maintaining Crown Premises), with outsourced models, The outsourced public sector contracts, under the ‘Compulsory Competitive Tendering’ initiative, were let to private sector organizations. This was how it all started in the UK and 31 years later, it has certainly matured from those early years.
Furthermore, I am an active member on the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) FM Technical Committee /T267, I continue to wish to contribute towards its development and I see a very exciting future for FM.
Facilities Management — Definition
Facility management (FM) “is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology” (International Facilities Management Association, IFMA).
Whilst ISO generally support three perspectives of FM (people, places, and process), IFMA supports four, with Technology being the fourth perspective. I support the addition of technology as the fourth perspective. Some argue that technology is the matter by which the other three dimensions are shaped by or that technology is too loose for use in this context. I would agree that the term ‘technology’ needs to be further defined and qualified as a key aspect of its definition for use within the overall definition of FM. We can however be sure that the use of technology is an integral part of FM, whether it be as a CAFM system for automating processes and collecting data, for SMART building control and automation, to replace or augment traditional human processes such as project management, as an artificial intelligence function or indeed for advancement through machine learning techniques. Technology and FM are now inseparable.