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Links Across Borders

18 March 2011

Started by a pioneering FMs and academics across Europe nearly 25 years ago, EuroFM has developed into a force that nurtures and develops FM in European countries and works with EU institutions, as its current chairman, Wayne Tantrum, describes

TODAY’S EUROFM CAN TRACE ITS HISTORY BACK to the late 1980s at a time when FM ---was beginning to get a foothold as an emerging profession. The very first exploratory meeting to create a European FM network was hosted in The Netherlands in 1987 by Mr. Bart Bleker. He helped support and developed the association until 1990, and was in essence the its informal Chairman.
In 1993 the European Facility Management Network (EuroFM) was born and officially registered by NEFMA, the Dutch FM association now called FMN, together with the Danish FM association, DFM and the Centre for Facilities Management in the UK led by Professor Keith Alexander. The diversity of the founders explains the early focus of the association on ‘Practice, Education and Research’.
Professor Keith Alexander took over and formally chaired the association from 1993 until 2000. EuroFM has been very fortunate over the years to have been supported by a number of exceptional people that have all had the common goal to advance FM across Europe (see below). These past Chairmen and dare I say "visionary leaders" of the FM profession, and
also well respected in their own countries and markets:
The struggle for recognition for FM as a profession in the early days was hard. Each one of the 27 European national FM markets developed at its own pace and direction. There was no consistency of approach as most countries were still trying to identify the meaning of FM in their local market.
FM in the USA was ahead of Europe at this time with the National Facilities Management Association being formed in 1980. It changed its name when Canada joined a year later to the Interntional Facilty Management Association (IFMA). IFMA helped develop the European FM market by assisting groups of FM in emerging European nations to found national IFMA
chapters, and by organising the World Workplace Europe conference in collaboration with EuroFM. At the same time several countries also founded a Centre for Facility Management or developed faculties for FM education and research universities across the continent.
In these early days there was a real need to promote FM as a profession across Europe and to develop EuroFM to support it. Over its first 25 years, EuroFM has developed from a small network organisation to now be the main European representative of management of ‘facilities and services. In those first years, EuroFM focused on:
● grouping organisations of FM experts existing in different countries and individual FM experts, into a European network
● promoting the establishment of FM organisations in countries where none existed
● promoting the inter-relationship of participating associations
● promoting mutual hospitality between participating associations and the members thereof
● encouraging and promoting international symposia, conferences, information meetings and business meetings on FM and related fields
● encouraging and promoting any other activities that may contribute to the objectives of the association.
The mission of EuroFM is simply ‘The advancement of knowledge in Facility Management in Europe and its application in Practice, Education and Research’.
It is a measure of its success and the growth of FM across the economies of Europe that EuroFM now representes a market valued at about €640bn which is about 5 to 8 percent of Europe’s GDP. EuroFM reaches European universities and educational institutions representing 14,000 FM students. It has members from National Associations from 23 countries representing 22,000 individuals. Corporate members now number 17 FM service providers with a market value of about €110 billion and employing c1,300,000 people. Two corporate client members are also part of the organisation.
Some 30 publication partners from 18 countries representing approx. 65,000 readers of FM magazines and newsletters, including PFM, help to disseminate EuroFM’s news and comment and contribute to its electronic newseletter, Insight.
ThIs open network of professionals, academics, educationalists, practitioners and researchers generates a rich mix of activity. Projects and activities are initiated by four network groups - the Practice Network Group, Education Network Group, Research Network Group and Corporate Associates group. These groups form the life blood of EuroFM where the members are involved in an open exchange of information and experience through meetings, seminars and workshops, through collaboration in research projects, and through the development of joint educational programmes.
From the beginning, EuroFM has been a largely virtual organisation communicating across international boundaries digitally and disseminating it proceedings, newsletters, research papers and publications to its members via the EuroFM website. It meets face to face at its annual conference, and at three EuroFM members meetings annually hosted by members in their local markets.
Voice in the EU
EuroFM has become the key interface for FM across Europe with the EU institutions. During November 2010 we organised a special members meeting to help us promote the FM profession with the European Parliament. There were a number of presentations that covered FM and its benefits for Europe, EN15221 standardisation and our relationship with CEN TC, and an overview of progress with our Market data project.
Mrs Frieda Brepoels MEP Green alliance explained: "Facility management remains unknown with the European parliament and policy makers and what it means for increased efficiency and sustainability" She urged EuroFM and its members to set a goal to change this situation and the Board agreed this will become one of our core focus points in 2011.
To extend its networks, EuroFM has signed several affiliation agreements with other relevant and related associations that allow both parties to share the benefits of both organisations as affiliates. We will cooperate and promote the establishment of FM organisations that provide support to the FM profession, promoting each other’s events, programmes, conferences and related activities.
I believe it is important to develop strategic relationships and the one with Global FM is typical of the way forward. This agreement was signed at IFMA’s World Work Place in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., in October 2010.
The ‘jewel in the crown’ for EuroFM is its annual conference, a joint collaboration between EuroFM and IFMA and professionally organised in Europe’s main cities. Last year in Madrid the EFMC 2010 conference was the biggest ever with over 550 Delegates from 40 countries. It successfully combined the benefits of a Business Conference with a Research Symposium and created rare links between research and practice that are crucial to delivering added value to delegates.
This year’s conference from May 23rd – 25th May 2011 is in Vienna Austria and the theme is ‘Cracking the productivity nut’, it will also feature EuroFM Awards in four categories - Partners Across Borders; Researcher of the Year and Student of the Year, and new this year, Excellence in Sustainability. This new category is a strategic priority reflecting the with pivotal role for FM across Europe to save costs while at the same time improve organisations’ environmental brand. This Award will recognise excellence in delivering sustainability to an organisation located in more than one European country.
What started as a small network in 1987 has become a major force in promoting FM across Europe, influencing the European parliament and therefore defining the FM profession into the future. By innovating ideas, helping disseminate knowledge and networking, I am confident that EuroFM will continue to be a strong voice for the promotion of our industry.
Its success past, present and future depends on members of the EuroFM Board who dedicate their time free of charge, and on members from 23 European countries who want to make a difference.
Wayne Tantrum is chairman of EuroFM

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