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A Global Reach

25 November 2010

IFMA’s competence based international credential, FMP, launched last month is an attractive option for anyone working outside the boundaries of the UK where it is recognised in 25 countries. Dave Wilson examines its benefits

WHETHER THE WORLD NEEDS another FM educational programme or not, October brings the launch of the Facility Management Professional (FMP) from IFMA.
Especially in the UK, where we already have qualifications from RICS and BIFM, as well as a plethora of universities, FMs may wonder whether there is a really any need for another.
However, FMP is notably different from any existing option, and it is worth considering rather than dismissing it unexamined. The key difference is it is a competence based credential. It is not (and is not intended to be) a replacement for (or competition with) academic qualifications. It is a signifier of professional competence rather than academic achievement. Because IFMA has gone to significant trouble to base the FMP on competences needed by FMs, it provides a rounded grounding in practical applications. This seems simple to me, but equally confuses a British FM establishment which is obsessed with an academic approach to our work. I believe that FMP has a crucial place in the industry, precisely because it is deliberately pitched at five otherwise unsupported groups of practitioner. These are early to mid-career FM’s seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills; individuals transitioning into an FM career; related practitioners such as architects, designers and safety engineers; corporate providers of FM products and services (in the facilities services supply chain) and students entering the profession from non-FM degree courses FMP is not something that competes directly with the BIFM’s qualifications or with RICS Chartered Facilities Manager Surveyor.
The key advantages of the FMP approach are that it:
● has a simple structure resulting in a single credential
● is targeted towards newer FM’s
● can be taken in individual modules
● is comprehensible to employers
● builds towards the CFM (Certified Facility Manager) credential, which is already well recognised internationally
● provides a good all round grounding which will allow FMs and others to interact professionally with customers and peers.
IFMA set out to improve the recognition of FMP, by ensuring proper testing of learning. It also decided that a key aim was that it must be applicable internationally. As a result FMP is:
● supported by credible, peer reviewed, course materials
● applicable to the fundamental principles of good FM, rather than specific practice in any one country
● regularly and routinely reviewed and updated
● tested by an approved examination process which specifically relates to the materials in the courses
● available to the whole FM community, regardless of membership of IFMA (although IFMA members will get discounted courses)
● delivered either by self-teaching (by online and reading course materials) or provided by accredited trainers and accredited training organisations
● formally accredited by a US educational body that meets the ISO standards (similar to OfQual in the UK), so that it is internationally recognised. The new accreditation will be recognised in at least 25 other countries.
FMP and CFM are based on redefined core competences, which were themselves subject to an extensive consultation among over 130 facilities practitioners, through a Global Job Task Analysis . There are now 11 competences, reflecting the changes in the profession over the last few years. This global approach certainly addresses some of the shortcomings in the previously very US-centric materials.
Of those 11 competences, four will form the basis of the FMP certificate. Those are:
● Finance and business
● Leadership and Strategy
● Operations and Maintenance
● Project Management
The other seven required are:
● Communications
● Emergency Preparedness & Business Continuity
● Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability
● Human Factors
● Quality
● Real Estate and Property Management
● Technology.
Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) were appointed as reviewers, drawn from the USA, Europe (primarily EuroFM), Australia, and South East Asia. The SME’s made substantial changes to make the material was less US-centric. For example, it was agreed to make metric measures and non-dollar currencies the norm in the materials, and wherever possible to use non-US terminology. Other positive changes from a European perspective were the references to FM practice here (for example, emphasis on procuring services and management from third parties), to EU regulations and to the European Standard on FM. The resulting material, which will be reviewed regularly to keep it in line with current developments, is a thorough comprehensive overview of each area, filed with practical examples and case studies provided by the SME’s.
Students can self-study for each module, using the 200 page course books, or attend instructor lead courses run only through IFMA approved training organisations like Training4FM.
The examination of candidates’ learning is by a formal test using multiple choice questions. This has always been one of the criticisms (usually from those who haven’t taken the test), there being a perception that multiple choice is too easy. However, having been involved in checking the questions, I’m confident that the questions will test candidate’s practical understanding of the issues very thoroughly.
Despite this, nothing is perfect, and legitimate criticisms of FMP might be that it is extremely difficult to produce technical material on FM which is internationally applicable. Some parts of the courses (especially Operations and Maintenance) have proven this. In addition, the four modules which make up FMP may not be everyone’s priorities.
Against that, there are many positive aspects. Overall IFMA has produced a credential which has value for FM’s around the world who are at a particular development stage in their career.
It has:
● Demonstrable intelligence in the material, with a thorough review process supporting
● A comprehensive view of FM which is wider than merely technical aspects
● Excellent planning and support which should ensure the credential is widely accepted
● Material which is international in its presentation and content, with much which is obviously European in origin
● A structure and content which both candidates and employers will find easy to understand
● Recognition already in 25 countries
● A review and development process which should allow improvements both in specific content and the international applicability.
While it is futile to compare FMP’s merits to the other FM qualifications available in the UK and Europe, in terms of career development, it offers a coherent introduction which will be of use to FMs who may have a general experience of the discipline but may need more understanding and perspective. It will therefore be useful to anyone looking for some grounding in new areas which will add value to their organisations and take them on a first step towards formal academic courses. Because it is competence based, and thus essentially a practical set of techniques for FM and organisational operations, FMP seems to be the best current option for FMs looking to develop their professional skills and to acquire recognition that they can demonstrate their of professional competence in a serious way.
Dave Wilson CFM is a Director of Training4FM, the training subsidiary of Agents4FM. He was a representative of EuroFM as a Subject Matter Expert in the development of the FMP.Training4FM offers FMP and CFM courses, as well as a range of other FM courses and provides training to companies across Europe and the Middle East. He is a former Board member of BIFM and EuroFM, and longstanding IFMA member, convenor of the European Standards working group on benchmarking.


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