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News & opinion

24 APR 2018

Strategic FM: breaking barriers and establishing stability

How can we integrate technology to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in the FM industry? How do we achieve a successful performance management process, and what are the challenges faced when adopting sustainable practices on built assets?

These were just some of the questions addressed at the second World Workplace Forum held in Dubai, by RICS and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).

With over 150 delegates in attendance, a diverse selection of speakers and panellists brought global and regional perspectives to light, and explored the necessity of embracing strategic and sustainable models to add value to the built asset, ensuring its longevity.

In this region, with a multitude of construction projects underway, the industry is ripe for significant development through the adoption of strategic practices, pushing the value of FM beyond $17 billion in the UAE by 2021, and about $50 billion by 2030 in Saudi Arabia. With this ambitious growth, it is essential that the region embraces a model of strategic asset management to increase the productivity and efficiency of their assets effectively.

This year’s event saw the exclusive launch of the ‘Strategic Facility Management Framework’, a global best practice document for FM, which aims to provide clear guidance for managing FM. Using this document, facility managers can play a bigger, more valuable role in the corporate real estate decision-making process, adding their strategic approach to the regional projects.

Jointly developed by RICS and IFMA after extensive global consultation among FM practitioners and industry leaders, the framework is critically aligned to existing standards set by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), conforming to ISO consistent definitions.

RICS chief executive, Sean Tompkins said: "The new IFMA/RICS framework puts facility management at the heart of organisational objectives and creates a strategic approach that will enable facilities professionals to deliver their expertise globally to a consistent standard."

Big data and technology in FM

The use of technology and data in building analytics is driving change in the industry. Keynote speaker Darrell D. Smith, Director of Facilities Operation, Google, opened the Forum by highlighting the significant benefits using Big Data can have on improving the operations of a built asset, and how it can help in identifying which area needs to be improved.

Smith believes the biggest challenge perceived by many, is taking the wealth of data and making it actionable. Google’s strategy of using the range of collected data is first, to identify what needs to be solved; what the current situation is, what they need to achieve, and what impact the changes will have on the longevity of the asset. After the situation, goal and impact have been established, the investment in the particular asset can take place.

According to Bill O’Neil, Chair, IFMA Global Board of Directors, technology is already disrupting the FM industry in dramatic ways. However, it is not being optimised to its fullest. "Facility Management must adopt technology more quickly and far more deeply than current practice. It must move beyond only using technology to monitor space utilisation and energy consumption. Implementing technology in FM practices is an excellent way to reduce cost and increase efficiencies."

In the afternoon session, Brant Fletcher, Operations Director at ICD Brookfield and Mitch Boryslawki, Co-Founder, Executive Director at EcoDomus, explored the benefits of various technologies in the FM industry by presenting a case study of using BIM in the development and facility management of ICD Brookfield Place project.  Fletcher believes that technology in FM has mostly been used for control and management systems, it now needs to involve IOT and Big Data to advise clients on the decisions they can make.

Service levels, KPIs and contract deliveries

Multiple working practices exist in the region, and with a melting pot of over 200 nationalities, come the challenges of no clearly defined best practice, no unified standard and the understanding of targets achieved varied from company to company.

Tariq Chauhan, the Group CEO of EFS Facilities Services Group, believes that as part of the strategic performance management lifecycle, facility managers need to establish the delivery goals, define desired outcomes, set the SLAs and implement strategies collaboratively to achieve the KPIs.

Industry leaders also discussed the challenges around contract delivery and how best to add value to the life of a contract in a panel session at the Forum. In the session, Asif Siddique, Managing Director at Deyaar Facilities Management, stated that the overall service continuity is crucial to the success of the built asset.

Enhancing workplace experience through FM

Ana Stanojevic, the Smart Buildings Workplace Strategy Director EMEA at JLL, explored how thought to smart real estate, humanisation and wellness of employees can boost productivity in workplaces.

She stated that according to a recent study conducted by JLL, 81% of the occupants reported that smart buildings improved employee retention and highlighted that enhancing the human experience while building on the potential of automation and digitisation was crucial for the future growth of organisations.

Sustainable buildings of tomorrow

According to the UN Environment’s Global Status Report 2017, building-related CO2 emissions have risen by 1% per year since 2010. In his presentation, on how Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) can be the future of sustainable buildings in the region, Saeed Al Abbar, the Director of AESG and Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council, discussed the ways companies need to put more focus on making net-zero buildings commercially feasible and cost effective.

In addition, he highlighted the challenges for adopting NZEBs in the Middle East, such as:

  • lack of awareness about the cost effectiveness of energy efficient buildings
  • building occupant behaviour
  • UAE climate
  • lack of government initiatives on NZEBs

The future of FM

To cater to the growing demands of 25 million FM practitioners around the world, the collaboration between IFMA and RICS aims to align standards in the industry along with providing training and development and access to a clearly defined career path for everyone wishing to develop their professional competence within the FM industry.

This is done through the newly launched online training portal that has all the FM professional development needs, in one place. Furthermore, in addition to the ‘Strategic Facility Management Framework’ RICS and IFMA will be releasing supporting documents that address the needs of the marker by highlighting Procurement of FM Services and Service Charges in Commercial Property.

In its second year, the World Workplace Forum had set out to establish the dialogue to increase the consistency and unification of strategy across the life-cycle of the built environment.  We look forward to continue working with the industry in the region to professionalise FM and to realise the added value this can bring.