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The late 1980s saw a growing awareness and increased recognition for facilities management both in the public and private sectors. Corporate strategies for competitiveness have caused businesses to relook at all their processes and restructure them in a way that decreases costs and improves efficiency. (Alexander, 1994)
Definitions of Facilities Management
There are many varying definitions of facilities management. The British Institute of Facilities Management perceives it 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” (BIFM, 2010) Price describes 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 that organisation (Price, 2000; Baldry, 2008) The facilities management movement can be summarized as a belief in potential to improve processes by which workplaces can be managed to inspire people to give of their best, to support their effectiveness and ultimately to make a positive contribution to economic growth and organizational success. (Alexander, 1994)
The Role of Facilities Management
The role of facilities management is gaining recognition within the economy. Government policies in a market economy, such as competitive policies, deregulation and privatisation, have each had an influence on the growth of facilities management over the years. In the Japanese economy, facilities management is already considered as a key element for economic success. They place a greater importance on office productivity and therefore facilities management is seen as a way of improving the efficiency of office workers in Japan. (Alexander, 1994)
Alexander, (1994) says that the role of facilities management should be defined by the relationship of facilities to the core business of an organisation in which success is measured by the degree and quality of support they provide to achieving key business objectives or goals. The role and responsibility of facilities management will vary in different organisations. Selecting the correct role of facilities management is critical to the success and effectiveness of an organisation. Creating a facilities management profile based on a case specific basis should potentially lead to successful facilities management practice.
The growing pressures of the competitive business world have made organisations realise that they must gain some form of competitive advantage from every section of their organisation. This must also include the costs of running the working environment. In these organisations, facilities are no longer allocated insignificant time but the strategic role of facilities management is widely recognised as well as the benefits of effective management (Baldry, 2008). In the past businesses were operating within a fairly stable economic environment. However the evolution of technology, cost of space, global competition and the greater impact of making mistakes has forced organisations to manage their resources effectively. This issue has given rise and placed more importance on the concept of facilities management. The biggest challenge facilities managers come across is the management of resources in a rapid and constantly changing environment. (Barrett, 1998)
As Alexander (1996), emphasizes, the role that facilities management plays in its contribution to the success of the organisation has gained increasing importance since the start of the facilities management concept. Initially facilities management was managed as an isolated activity and considered as an expense like any other cost within a business. Now facilities management is managed as an integrated activity, with the commercial, manufacturing and marketing function of the organisation. Facilities management has bought to the surface many opportunities to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors. Therefore, it seeks organisational effectiveness to help organisations to allocate their resources in a way that allows them to flourish in the very competitive markets. This has therefore encouraged management and business owners to realise that for organisations to benefit from their huge investment in facilities, they have to manage them actively and creatively, with commitment and a broader vision (Amaratunga, 2001)
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The Centre for Facilities Management (CFM) describes facilities management as “the process by which an organisation delivers and sustains a quality working environment and delivers quality support services to meet the organisation’s objectives at best cost” It is accepted that facilities management covers a wide range of services and the success or partial failure of an organisations business is dependent on the management of those services (Chotipanich, 2004). Such services can include property management, financial management, change management, human resources management, health and safety management, in addition to services such as building maintenance, domestic services (cleaning and security) and utilities supplies. The essence of facilities management lies in the ways in which facilities are adjusted to business needs and in the effectiveness of the systems that ensure non-core activities deliver value for money (CFM, 1992).
At a national level, the strategic objective of facility management is to provide better infrastructure and logistic support to businesses of all kinds and across all sectors. At a local level, its objective is the effective management of facility resources and services in providing of support to the operations of organisations, their working groups, project teams and individuals (Nutt, 2000). Therefore, according to Nutt (2000), the primary function of facilities management is resource management, at strategic and operational levels of support.
McNaughton 2007 says “Facilities management provides an opportunity for businesses and large conglomerates to focus on their “core business” leaving the secondary services of security, mailing and cleaning in the hands of the facilities management experts”. If implemented correctly, facilities management can benefit your company in the following ways:
- Reduced risk and increased productivity
- Reduced operating costs by focusing on core business structures
- Encourages and sustains a healthy and safe corporate culture
- Delivers sustainable resource utilisation
- Optimise asset utilisation
Operational and Strategic Facilities Management
Facilities management can be divided into two sections, namely operational facilities management and strategic facilities management. Operational facilities management is the interaction within the facilities department itself (i.e the facilities manager and the various functional units such as maintenance, interior planning, architecture etc). The various functional units can be in house or outsourced. Each functional unit should be aware of current techniques and regulations within their specific area of work. The facilities manger is expected to communicate with the core business regularly to identify current facilities requirements. The facilities manager will then benchmark facilities service currently in practice within the organisation against other facilities management organisations and see where an improvement can be made (Barrett, 1998). It can be said that the primary function of facilities management is the operational side as it is the most visible. The function supports the regular needs of the core business. (Chotipanich, 2004)
Strategic facilities management looks at the future. The facilities manager will interact with the core business to establish future changes that might occur to the business due to external factors such as competitors etc. The facilities manager will also identify possible developments within the facilities management arena. Interaction between strategic and operational facilities management must occur and the aim is to synergistically balance current operations with the needs of the future. (Barrett, 1998)
The figure above (Barrett, 1995) is a generic facilities management model developed by Barrett. It clearly shows the different relationships and communication lines as well as the difference between operational and strategic facilities management. The separation of the core business and facilities management is clear in the above diagram and this emphasises the fact that facilities management is only beneficial if it supports the primary business objectives. It also distinguishes between the current and future environment and makes it easier to understand how facilities management is conducted. Linkages 1, 2 and 3 are at an operational level and 4, 5 and 6 are at a strategic level.
The structure of facilities management is related to the needs, environment and circumstances of the organisation at the time. Its practice and composition are particularly important to the characteristics and contexts of the organisation. (Chotipanich, 2004)
Barrett (1998) suggests that facility managers should not just select service items from the standard list at random, but provide only those services that are needed by their particular organisation. Facilities management practice is seen as adapting to its situation. Barrett (1998) also stands by the fact that facilities management practice needs to be personalised to a specific organisation.
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The facilities managers are involved in strategic planning i.e plans for the future as well as daily operations, particularly in relation to buildings and premises. Responsibilities and duties may vary depending on the type of corporation but the most likely responsibilities include:
- contract management
- procurement management
- maintenance of the grounds and buildings
- general cleaning of the facility and refuse disposal
- catering and vending
- health and safety
- utilities and communications infrastructure
Facilities management is a very important concept in this competitive business world. If this concept is not managed correctly or neglected, it will be to the detriment of your organisation. In the past businesses were operating in a stable economic environment and as a result the setting of goals were done and not redone for a considerable amount of time. In this current economic state, the goals of organisations often change as the economic environment presents new challenges. The increase in competition, employee expectations and the changes in technology forces businesses to manage their resources effectively to stay profitable.
- Baldry, D. (2008), Knowledge management practices in facilities organisations: a case study, Journal of Facilities Management
- British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM). (2010), http://www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/about/facilities Accessed 22 March 2010
- Alexander, K. (1994), Facilities Management Theory and Practice
- Alexander, K. (1996), Facilities Management Theory and Practice
- Amaratunga, R.D.G. (2001), Theory building in facilities management performance measurement: application of some core performance measurement and management principles
- Centre for Facilities Management (CFM), (1992). An Overview of the FM Industry Part 1
- Chotipanich, S. (2004), Positioning facility management, Journal of Facilities.
- Nuttt, B. (2000), Four competing futures for facility management Journal of Facilities
- McNaughton (2007), http://www.eprop.co.za/news/article.aspx?idArticle=9211 Accessed 25 April 2010
- Barrett, P. (1998), Facilities management. Towards Best Practice.
- Barrett, P. (1995), Facilities management. Towards Best Practice.
- Price, I. (2000), FM and Research, Journal of Facilities.
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