Helbling Insight

Raising the Bar in Facilities Management

Operating improvements

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently released their third “Raising the Bar: From Operational Excellence to Strategic Impact in Facilities Management” report. This year's information is based upon a survey conducted of 2,500 facilities professionals worldwide, and goes into depth about the status of the facilities management (FM) profession, and its challenges, trends, and strategies. The research is especially interesting because it is designed to provide an opportunity to track trends and changes in the sector over time with the first report being released in 2012.

For those of us who are involved in FM, we realize how much it has changed over the last decade and especially within the last few years. The report validates what we are all thinking - that facilities management is at a critical stage of reinventing itself from what the report calls a “Cinderella” image to being a strategic component of business strategies.  In an increasingly number of organizations, FM leaders work in partnership with executive leadership and play instrumental roles in short- and long-term objectives. While it took a long time for this to occur, it only makes sense considering that facilities management and related assets are typically the second or third line item on an organization’s balance sheet. 

The 2017 report distinguishes itself from prior ones by identifying two core (but distinct) roles of FM - the aspect of operating buildings and facilities and that of ensuring facilities serve the needs of an organization and its end-users. This is definitely something that we can all relate to as we've seen the industry evolve. While we want to think that the latter is a more widely recognized function of FM today, this isn’t the case within many organizations. The report found that, for most survey participants, strategic planning only represents about 30% of their time, and FM still tends to be considered a second-class function in many organizations.

Perhaps this is because the “facilities management” term itself relates to the physical environment and, therefore, takes away reference to “producing value.” Another possible reason is career development programs (college degrees and others) do not put enough emphasis on developing important skill sets within FM that are centered around collaboration, interpersonal relationships, and strategy development and implementation. If this was done, it's likely that more young people would be attracted to the profession because they would see the innovation and high-level thinking it entails. 

Illustrating these strategic aspects of FM are the top challenges facing FM as outlined in the report. While these are noted as "challenges," they are really opportunities for expanding FM's value and impact within an organization.

Budgeting & Cost Management

  • Balancing demands with limited resources
  • Developing budgets and allocating resources effectively

Organizational Factors

  • Enhancing collaboration
  • Promoting the role of FM internally
  • Developing performance metrics

Organizational Alignment

  • Aligning efforts with overall goals and strategies
  • Developing a capital planning process
  • Ensuring facilities support well-being and productivity
  • Integrating with IT and HR

Human Resources & Talent Management

  • Effectively finding and retaining talent, especially as it relates to strategic facilities management
  • Developing skills of team
  • Performing succession planning
  • Improving career programs to provide education on relationship building and interpersonal skills

Workplace, Space Management, and Well-Being of the Workforce

  • Supporting well-being in the workplace
  • Adapting to changes in working practices
  • Meeting expectations and needs of changing demographics

Asset Management & Aging Assets

  • Dealing with aging assets and equipment
  • Addressing life cycle of buildings
  • Planning maintenance

Technology

  • Adapting to and using new technologies
  • Managing information in an efficient manner

As executive search consultants who specialize in securing facilities management executives for diverse organizations, such as healthcare and higher education institutions, independent schools, cultural and non-profit entities, corporations, and others that have significant real estate assets, we are well familiar with the above initiatives as our clients' objectives center around them. There's no doubt it's an exciting time in the sector, and we look forward to seeing how it continues to "raise the bar" in the years to come. Best of luck!

View full report

About IFMA: The International Facility Management Association is the world’s largest and most widely recognized international association for facility management professionals, supporting 24,000 members in 104 countries.

About RICS: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is a global professional body that accredits 125,000 professionals in 148 countries, promoting and enforcing the highest professional standards in land, real estate, construction, and infrastructure.

The IFMA-RICS alliance represents the most significant evolutions in the history of facility management, providing an unprecedented level of industry support to meet the growing demands of the 25 million FM practitioners around the world.