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News & opinion

7 MAR 2018

Strategic FM: more than just maintenance

As the FM industry matures, gradually enhancing the quality of life of people and productivity of businesses, the fundamental role of FM is still understood differently in different sectors.

Recognising the variances and bringing them together under the umbrella of ‘strategic facilities management’ is slowly becoming the new norm globally. However, challenges still exist.

Perception v reality 

One of the most persistent challenges facing the industry, is the perception FM is just a maintenance function. The services most associated with FM that make it known as that include: 

  • HVAC
  • lighting & blinds
  • fire detection, suppression and fighting
  • lifts and escalators
  • energy management
  • water supply and sewage disposal.

What many don’t know are the tactical aspects of FM, such as; design functionality, design change impact, terms for asset handover, indicative budgets and life-cycle cost, mobilisation and implementation, data management and performance management among other features. 

These functions, if applied from the design stages of a project result are categorised as strategic FM, increasing the life-cycle of the building and ultimately bringing a full return on the investment. As the industry in this region strives to move away from the lowest cost option to one that is a technical and operational fit, it becomes vital to enhance the understanding of strategic FM. 

Challenges for FM in the region

In a recent CPD session, held in Dubai, Stephen Morris, the Director of Integrated Asset Services at CBRE Middle East, highlighted the significance of strategic FM as a core element. He believes that it should be implemented at the concept design stage of the built asset to achieve not only the best Life Cycle Costing control and planning, but also realising the full ROI within the built environment.

With a melting pot of over 200 nationalities, this region hosts multiple practices and no defined standards. This has paved the way for many challenges for FM professionals to overcome, the most prominent being:

Client procurement strategy

Clients prefer to focus on a higher headcount over optimised performance, ultimately increasing costs.

Biased contract terms

Many contracts in the region are in the client's favour, creating further distrust between FM professionals and the clients. 

Low skill levels, training standards and qualification levels

There is a lack of skills required to keep up with the recent developments in the region. More middle management should have training for career progression, to become FM professionals.

Understanding of service levels, KPI balance and application

It is crucial for the industry to develop metrics and KPIs that are effective and support all FM services, not just the lowest-cost offerings. 

Evolving and adapting strategic practices

The process of getting the industry to appreciate the true benefits of employing strategic FM practices is gradually progressing in the Middle East, and as the awareness grows, so does the recognition of it as an essential business function.

To counteract challenges in the industry and increase the development and recognition of strategic FM, RICS and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) have collaborated to provide support to the industry to meet the growing demands from the 25 million FM practitioners around the world. By joining their resources, RICS and IFMA provide a suite of credentials, qualifications, research papers and a flagship forum hosted annually in different parts of the world, including in the Middle East.

Following the success of the first World Workplace (WWP) event in Dubai, last year, RICS and IFMA will host the second WWP Forum on 19 April 2018, at The Address Dubai Mall. This year’s event will feature the exclusive launch of the ‘Strategic FM Framework’, a global best practice document for FM, which aims to provide clear guidance for strategic asset management, wherever the professional is in the world.