USING FACILITIES MANAGEMENT AS A STRATEGIC TOOL FOR BUSINESS EXCELLENCE- Part 1
Brief History of Facilities Management
The origin of Facilities Management can be traced to the Era of scientific management and explosion in office administration, the introduction of computers in workplaces in 1960s and the energy crises highlighted the importance of cost of space (bifm.org.uk, 2011). Following these catalytic events, Since late 1980s, FM has gradually gained a foothold as discipline and profession within the property and construction industry with evidences of the establishment of the following professional facilities Management Institutions globally; IFMA in the USA, JFMA in Japan, BIFM in UK, FMA in Australia, etc. This shows clearly how important the profession is to the built environment (Linda et. al., 2001).
Though the popularity of this subject has been on a steady upward trend, to date there are still people who don’t really appreciate and to certain extent are misguided on the roles and responsibility of FM. It is therefore pertinent for FM practitioners to understand the evolution of FM, which has developed from just looking at “hardware” such as buildings, furniture, which is reflected by Becker (1990) and equipment to looking at “software” such as people, process, environment, health and safety which is depicted by Alexander (1999). The term FM coined in 1964 by Ross Perot. Herman Miller and his group established FMI in 1979 in Ann Arbor Michigan. In 1980 National Facility Management Association was formed. Later 1980, evolved into IFMA International Facility Management Association. In 1993, British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) was formed. Spread to Europe, far East and Nigeria in mid 1990s via IFMA.
Cultivating an accurate understanding of the evolution of FM is important, so that when the FM subject is diversified the essence of the subject remains consistent in order for the later outcome to not stay undiluted with newer components and elements of FM knowledge that could cloud the core subject areas. In Nigeria for instance, many actors use the term facilities management to impress clients, but do not provide professional FM services (David, 2000). Such usage can only be understood if we try to understand the evolution of FM from its point of origin. The phrase “facilities management” is somewhat at the growth stage in Nigeria, and some subcontractors or service providers use the term without thinking about what it means. There is a trend among service companies to add the two letters FM in order to look professional. This phenomenon even led Sodexho Alliance to avoid using the term facilities management, opting instead for terms like “multi-services”, even though they offer facilities management (David, 2000).
FM Structure helps to support the core business process helping the business to naturally prioritize its operations. Here Facilities Management and business strategy are joined and are complimentary. This is Facilities Management at a strategic level. Thus, we can define Facilities Management as an integrated approach to operating, maintaining, improving and adapting the buildings and infrastructure of an organisation in order to create an environment that strongly supports the primary objectives of the Organization (Atkin & Brooks, 2009)
Other Definitions of FM
FM is responsible for coordinating all efforts related to planning, designing and managing buildings and their systems, equipment and furniture to enhance the organization’s ability to compete successfully in a rapidly changing world.
FM unit is seldom aware of the overall corporate strategic planning, and does not have bottom line emphasis.
NHS Estates (1996)
The practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people and work of an organization; integrates the principles of business administration, architecture, and the behavioral and engineering science.
The scope of the discipline covers all aspects of property, space and environmental control, health and safety, and support services. The practice of FM is concerned with delivery of the enabling workplace environment – the optimum functional space that supports the business process and human resources.
Hinks and McNay (1999)
… Common interpretations of FM remit: maintenance management; space management and accommodation standards; project management for new-builds and alterations; the general premises management of the building stock; and the administration of associated support services.
… a focus on the management and delivery of the business “outputs” of both these entities (the real estate and construction industry); namely the productive use of building assets as workplace.
The primary function of FM is resource management, at strategic and operational levels of support. Generic types of resource management central to the FM function are the management of resources, physical resources, human resources, and the management of resources of information and knowledge.
Facility management is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.
“Facilities management is the integration of processes within an organization to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities”.
Following these definitions by professionals around the world, Theriault (2010) explained that Facilities Management is a complex profession made up of many different titles with varying scope and responsibility. He added that it is also about ensuring the company gets the best value for its investment in the building, whether it’s the rent it pays or the returns on investment it receives as an owner. We can therefore say that Facilities Management while supporting an organisation to achieve their cooperate objective, it can also be a verifiable tool for investment through the offering of best value with a resultant effect on the organisations return on investment and any other associated bottom lines.
It is therefore important to stress the efficacy of integrative interdependent disciplines whose overall purpose is to support an organisation in the pursuit of its (business) objectives. The proper application of facilities management techniques enables organisations to provide the right environment for conducting their core business on a cost – effective and best value. Atkin & Brooks (2009) also suggested that if buildings and other facilities are not managed, they can begin to impact upon an organization’s performance. Further to this, buildings and facilities have the potential to enhance performance by tilting towards the provision of the optimum working and business environment. They also opined that in practice, Facilities Management can cover a wide range of services including real estate management financial management, change management, human resource management health and safety and contract management, in addition to building maintenance, domestic services (such as cleaning and catering) and utilities supplies.
In addition to this, Atkin & Brooks (2009) suggested that there is no universal approach to managing facilities; each organisation – even within the same sector – will have different needs. Understanding these needs is the key to effective facilities management measured in terms of providing best value. We can therefore say that the first approach to ensure a client focus on its business is to understand their needs.
It is very key to discuss the importance of facilities to an Organisation (acting as client) and how approaches to facilities management can differ between organisations, even within the same sector. It is also instructive to note that most buildings represent substantial investment for reorganization and usually have to accommodate and support a range of activities taking into account competing needs (Atkin & Brooks, 2009). They further explained that within these activities is the organisation, core business, for which an appropriate environment must be created in buildings that may not have been designed for the purpose for which they are now used. It is also important to know that the reason for clients to be in business is to make profit through the delivery of customer’s satisfaction and achieve best value.
I agree with Atkins & Brooks (2009:2) who suggested that “since running cost account for a significant part of annual expenditure, there is bound to be pressure to look for savings in non–core business areas”. This now requires the need to strategically consider a more professional approach that can identify possible ways of cost reduction and cost avoidance while not deflagrating quality and good service experience by the end. This in tandem to Atkins & Brooks (2009:5) where there opined that “A piecemeal approach to cutting cost is unlikely to produce the required savings and may impair the organization’s ability to deliver high quality services.
They further explained that facilities management can be seen as a more powerful concept than real estate for property management because it takes a holistic view of the dynamics of the workplace and their environment. In view of this, facilities management can be summarized as creating an environment that is conducive to carrying out the organizations primary operations, taking an integrated view of the services infrastructure, and using this to deliver customer satisfaction and best value through support for and enhancement of the business (Atkins & Brook,2009:3)
The profession has moved beyond the traditional approach where property managers dealt with the technical aspects of buildings for owners, typically as an investment. However, it is important to distinguish the differences between the property managers and the facilities managers to enable us appreciate the role they both play and the value added for achieving an expected objective.
Theriault (2010) gave the definition of a property manager as the one responsible for the property management function for the day to day operations of the building, including managing service providers for preventive maintenance, life safety and other asset – related requirements. He added that they are the ones interfacing with occupants and tenants about technical service and conflict issues. He further explained that Facilities Managers on the other hand represents the occupants, dealing with moves, furniture’s, office functions and other logistical issues. Also, the property manager traditionally works for the building owner while the Facilities Managers work for the tenants. I quite agree with this thought because it is meant to support an organisation or Individuals objectives (Barret & Baldry, 2003)
The facilities Managers have a more strategic role in managing the built environment with the management of the people. IFMA’S definition captures the four key areas of facilities management which are; people, process, place and technology. Therefore the facilities managers role is to ensure that these four key areas are knitted together to provide best value with international best practice to the organization or individual they serve.
Although the name Facilities Manager has been literarily misused and turned to a buzz word without a lot of professionals appreciating the key role they play in ensuring that a firm achieve its Vision and Mission over a given period of time. Theriault (2010) gave a caution about the title (Facilities Manager) that it is not always clear indication of responsibilities. He gave example that asset management can be performed by the facilities manager, property manager or increasingly by another individual with the asset management title. In the same vein, Adewunmi&Adejumo (2012) explained that Facilities Management suffers identity crisis because it is relatively a new discipline and is still in the process of development. They explained that it has led to every professional wanting to associate themselves with Facilities Management without actually understanding its rudiments and potential use as a strategic tool for business excellence and workplace productivity.
For further understanding of the importance of facilities management in terms of adding value and promoting the business of an organisation, it is good to give a pictorial view of the skills required in this profession by the service providers in order to meet with the demands of the ever changing needs of the client. Although IFMA considered eleven competencies in Facilities Management (Leadership, Business & finance Technology, Project management, Operations management, Real Estate, Quality Environmental Stewardship and sustainability, Human Factors, Communication, Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity, we can summarize FM skill requirements in the FM pie as suggested by Theriault (2010). Following these explanations about the strategic role facilities management play in the core business of an organisation and the requirements of the uses of the facilities in the built environment, it is expedient that we also look closely at the functions involved in facilities management. Please see http://thebuiltenvironment.ca/member-resources/the-facility-management-pie-scope-responsibility
Based on this premise, we need to consider quality of service or performance while defining the value required by the client and in turn the required strategy for business excellence. Therefore, the relationship between quality and cost of price has to be properly understood. Following these thoughts, Atkin & Brooks (2009) suggested that cost savings cannot be isolated from value proposition. Organisation must therefore be able to demonstrate the value they are getting for their money and should not assume that paying less today is proof of better value for money. For a client to perform core business using facilities management as a tool, the associated risk involved in the search for best value should be recognized and transferred to those who are able to manage them effectively.
According to Imaad (2014), business excellence is a set of systematic activities carried out by the entire organization to effectively and efficiently achieve company objectives so as to provide products and services with a level of quality that satisfies customers at the appropriate time and price. I strongly believe based on my experience as a Facilities Manager that Facilities Management can be used as a strategic tool for business excellence through appropriate programmes, strategies and resource allocation. Further to this, if the aforementioned skills in FM are applied it can bring about the following in an organisation;
- Good value offering to the customers.
- It will create sustainable future.
- Develop Organisational Capability.
- Harnessing creativity and innovation.
- Leading with vision, inspiration & integrity.
- Managing with Agility.
- Good Talent Management.
- Sustaining outstanding results.
However, FM comes with some challenges which professionals are seeking to find lasting solutions that can sustain the future needs of the people. This is important because I believe FM can also be seen as an intangible service provision. Some of the identified challenges are;
- Intangibility: FM services are based on customer experiences and not tangible good.
- Customer Integration: Co-creation/Co-provision.
- Heterogeneity of services: Multiple service/changing requirements according to time place and circumstances.
It is therefore instructive to conclude that Facilities Management draws knowledge, experience and energy from multi-disciplined professions to meet the end-users expectations and exceed it with appropriate value proposition and fulfilling the corporate objectives.
Written by: Olumide Aina MFM, MNSE, MBIFM
Vice Chair BIFM (Abuja) & Group Operations Manager at Filmo Group | Posted by: Max-Migold Ltd.