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Pragmatic Guidance

12 February 2008

A facilities manager's role is wide ranging – and getting wider. Two new additions to the PFM bookshop provide practical help on rules, regulations, good practice and hot tips for the experienced professional and the newcomer to FM alike

FM HAS FOR LONG BEEN AN ACTIVITY which is very wide ranging, and as a consequence attempts to define or document it have tended to be fraught with difficulty and debate. A book which aims to be regarded as both a ‘best practice desktop manual’ and a ‘valuable source of knowledge for pursuing qualifications in facilities management’ is therefore both a brave publication and one which is desperately needed by new and experienced FMs alike.

With over 30 years FM experience, Derek Paxman, an Honorary Fellow of BIFM and a previous Chairman of the Institute has stepped into the fray and produced Facilities Management in Practice which aims to provide pragmatic guidance and useful sample documents and information for practitioners in the field.

I suspect that determining how to organise content on the many interlinked activities which constitute a typical facility manager’s working week was probably one of the greatest challenges the author faced. Thankfully, Derek has avoided the unhelpful shorthand of dividing FM services into ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ and does not fall into the trap of dividing them by ‘in house’ or ‘outsourced’ either. Instead the structure of the book more intelligently recognises the holistic nature of FM service and the need for an integrated approach when planning and delivering services.

Divided into 12 sections (there is no index, but with a full list of contents, and cross referencing of sections one is hardly needed), the book covers a variety of relevant topics ranging from ‘Engaging with the Customer and the Board’ to ‘Managing and Auditing Performance.’

Some sections are particularly thorough and complexities are simply explained. A section on Contract Management and Tendering Procedures clearly details the route through a classic outsourcing process, and the point is made that elements of this can be equally relevant when reviewing economic and effective delivery of in house services.

The content is predominantly directed at FMs operating office spaces though there are occasional references to other types of specialist space. In this respect it certainly reflects the roots of the FM profession in the UK, and the predominance of membership of UK FM professional bodies. It is true that many of the processes and services described are the same whether applied in a prison, a retail outlet or a museum. However, many FMs, particularly those operating in PFI environments do have responsibility for specialist areas requiring particular services and service levels. Some of these – such as maintaining cleanliness in hospital and similar environments - are not only topical but vitally important to the profession.

There are some useful references to other European and international FM organisations – and in a publication as wide-ranging as this, there could have been many more references to specialist professional bodies, or to other sources of more detailed material.

However, the book is true to its aims. It sets out the considerable experience of a successful practitioner in simple, easy to understand terms. The Appendices contain many useful sample documents which can be used by newcomers and established professionals alike, and the whole is peppered by ‘Ace Thoughts’ – tips born from first hand experience.

In this respect it is both a useful reference document and a highly personal one. Whilst readers may not agree with all of the comments, the book does reflect reality for many. For experienced practitioners, the contents will certainly provide a useful checkpoint. For those new to the profession, or for those working in smaller enterprises for whom FM is but one of a wider range of responsibilities, it will be a valuable reference tool and source of core information for those studying for an FM qualification.

● Marilyn Standley is Director, Concerto Consulting and a former chair of the BIFM.

Legal essentials
With the advent of paperless office strategies and mobile working, it sometimes seams that the humble book has lost its place in favour of internet searches and Wickipaedia. But the Workplace Law Handbook 2008 is one volume that deserves a place on your desk at your right hand.

The size of a paperback but twice as thick, its 850 pages are packed with vital information about the workplace. Organised into 160 chapters ranged alphabetically, it covers all aspects of employment law, health and safety and premises management legislation. Written by leading solicitors, consultants and practitioners, it provides basic information clearly and concisely, enough to get on with and sufficient to lead you to more research and/or advice.

By using the Handbook as a first port of call and then turning to the electronic update services from Workplace Law any responsible FM can keep abreast of the many changes in legislation and case law that impact the workplaces, including the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act due in April. Excellent value for just £79.99.

● Jane Fenwick, Editor, PFM Quote 3220 when ordering Workplace Law Handbook 2008 through the PFM Bookshop

Facilities Economics at you Fingertips by Bernard Williams, FRICS
The most comprehensive work ever written on this critically important subject is now available in CD-ROM . The 850 pages of essential information, graphs and hard data in the original book on the Cost, Values and Management on every aspect of providing and using building and support services are now instantly accessible via the index; and all the diagrams now come to the full screen in full colour. Separate versions are available for Europe, Australia and USA, in addition to the UK.

Special introductory prices:
Printable £39.50 (+£3 p&p and VAT) (full price £49.50)
Read only £29.50 (+£3 p&p and VAT) (full price £39.50)

Town Planning at your Fingertips by Professor Barry Reading and Geoffrey Parsons
Right up-to-date as at October 2007 this unique analysis of planning procedures and practice offers experts and beginners alike a quick and very helpful route through the maze enveloping the property world resulting from the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and its aftermath. Only available in CD-ROM format, all the information is instantly accessible and searchable at the click of a mouse on the comprehensive index of sections and subheadings and URL links.

Special introductory price:Read-only
CD-ROM £29.50 (+p&p and VAT) (full price £49.50).
Printable version also available price £69.50 (+p&p and VAT)

Facilities Cost Monitor by Bernard Williams Associates with FSI (FM Solutions) Ltd.
Facilities Cost Monitor is an intelligent decision support system for monitoring, planning and controlling the cost involved in the provision of facilities services in a wide range of site-specific scenarios. Created by Bernard Williams and colleagues at BWA and developed in a JV with FSI (FM Solutions) Ltd, Facilities Cost Monitor draws on more than two million data entries, records and experience of over 30 years of benchmarking consultancy. Facilities Cost Monitor has modules for Cleaning, Maintenance, Security, Distribution, Energy, Reprographics, Stationery and Archiving. It is already being used by major commercial corporations and Central and Local Government bodies

Licence fees for one year’s fully supported and regularly updated software start from £350 (+VAT) per cost centre – according to size of buildings and nos. of operating seats.

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