In 2006, European countries agreed to define facilities management (FM) as the ‘integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities’. Ref EN15221-1: 2006 Facility Management – Part 1: Terms and definitions.
FM is concerned with the management of facilities in the built environment at both a strategic and a day-to day level to deliver operational objectives and to maintain a safe and efficient environment.
Whilst there has always been a need for facilities management, it has emerged, developed and grown as a profession in recent years, partly as a result of the increasing rate of change required in the built environment, but also due the trend for outsourcing services, and the introduction of procurement routes that include operation and maintenance in integrated supply contracts.
Facilities management services can be provided by:
- In-house facilities management departments.
- FM contractors, sometimes offering a fixed price and so taking the risk of facilities management from the client.
- Managing agents.
- Multi-service companies providing full or partial services.
- Special purpose vehicles delivering design, build and operate, or design, build, finance and operate contracts such as the private finance initiative (PFI).
However it is provided, it is vital that facilities management is seen as an integral part of the strategic thinking and day-to-day operation of businesses, and not as an add on. Even where facilities management is out-sourced, FM contractors must be embedded in the client organisation with their service provision aligned to the client’s strategic objectives.
Facilities management is an interdisciplinary activity that can include:
- Estates strategies.
- Asset management.
- Space management.
- Acquisitions and sales.
- The provision of infrastructure and information and communications technology.
- Maintenance, cleaning, testing and inspection.
- Refurbishment, retrofitting and renovation.
- Enabling changes in working practices.
- Delivering new technology.
- Brand management.
- Rationalisation of services and assets.
- Ensuring business continuity.
- Ensuring safety and security and establishing emergency procedures.
- Traffic, transport and parking.
- Budget management.
- Asset exploitation and income generation.
- Performance and usage assessment, optimisation and improvement.
- Procurement and project management.
- Contract management.
- Regulatory compliance and liaison with the local authority and emergency services.
- Quality assessment.
- Help desk and other support services.
- Mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) and technical services.
The recent emergence of building information modelling (BIM) requires FM input during inception to ensure that the information generated during the design and construction phases is appropriate for operational needs and asset management (that is the development of the project information model into an appropriate asset information model that can be used to assist facilities management).
Training and qualification programmes exist for facilities managers, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) - formerly the British Institute of Facilities Management - was established in 1993 to promote excellence in facilities management and to provide qualifications and training.
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 External references
- EN15221-1: 2006 Facility Management – Part 1: Terms and definitions.
- The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) - formerly the British Institute of Facilities Management.
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