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Planning for change in the FM sector

27 April 2012

RICS are working to address the challenges that Facilities Managers are facing at a both an operational and strategic level. Never has there been a better time to make significant progress in a market where Chartered FM Surveyors can deliver a strategic contribution to an organisation’s success in the current business environment.

Recent studies show the facilities management sector is in a unique position within the wider real estate marketplace. While investment deals slow, the development pipeline continues to stagnate, and architects, contractors and their supply chains suffer accordingly, facilities management is one of the fastest growing parts of the industry. Global competition is increasing and multi-national firms such as Carillion, Balfour Beatty; Cushman & Wakefield; CB Richard Ellis and Jones Lang LaSalle are proactively investing heavily into their FM divisions.

The reasons for this are simple. In a recent poll carried out by IBM, corporate real estate professionals identified cost reduction as their number one priority in today’s market environment; with 98% of respondents expecting increasing pressure over coming months. It is reported that efficient and effective facilities management can deliver cost, productivity and environmental savings of up to 20% across properties and portfolios which significant especially when coupled with other VFM initiatives delivered by the FM.

Recognition of this fact, and accordingly, of the value FMs can bring to a business remains less than it should be however. The facilities management industry has had an image problem in the past; with some research and industry gossip not recognising the value that can be derived from a well thought out efficient strategy. And this is part of the problem that continues to feed the industry’s skills shortage.

Having said this, moves are being made to improve this situation; HMG recently published ‘Facilities Management Service Standards in the Public Sector’ and within it, supported the RICS’ ‘Strategic Role of Facilities Management in Business Performance’ guidance note. We are striving to continue to change perceptions.

How? At a strategic level; through working with clients and occupiers about the value that FMs can add to core business optimisation and real estate asset performance, we will support the ongoing growth of this sector, and by association, the productivity and performance of the real estate and FM industry at large.

Tactically, we will be improving the awareness and engagement of FM by our Professionalising FM Campaign, to offer the realistic opportunity for FMs to ultimately become Chartered.

In March, RICS launched its updated Public Sector Asset Management guidelines. The guidelines provide best practice advice to those involved in public sector property asset management, and with government departments looking to make cuts they are also designed to inform the decision-makers of the potential benefits asset management can bring.

Relative low awareness of the value-add of good practice facilities and asset management – and the cross over between the two – create a danger that property asset management could be allocated as a lower priority and given inadequate resourcing. The business-related benefits of property asset management are, however, crucial. Effective asset management is more than a cost-cutting exercise. It is about achieving value for money by aligning property with an organisation’s business strategy and requirements. Undermanaged portfolios not only waste resources by not operating efficiently but also fail to meet the standards of an organisation’s customers.

In terms of the ‘how to’, the guidelines enable users to create a property asset management plan, deliver a portfolio of space in accordance with that plan and, thereafter, track the post-occupational results. Managing property assets requires interaction with all parts of an organisation and collaboration with financial, human resource and IT professionals as well as operational managers. RICS’ guidelines help here. They touch on all of these areas and include advice from management consultancies, property managers, facilities managers and surveyors on areas like data and information management, sustainability, organisation and project evaluation. There is also a section on leadership skills and how to communicate the value add of property asset management to stakeholders.

The guidelines have been endorsed by the Cabinet Office, CLG, and the UK devolved assemblies as a key means of facilities and asset managers meeting government policy objectives and delivering added value and efficiency savings across property portfolios. And as it’s worth recognising that this good practice guidance has relevance beyond the public sector, as part of rationalising and saving on what we have and freeing up capital for long term, new investment.

In Q3 RICS will be launching a new positioning paper setting out clearly our approach to both strategic and operational FM, based on RICS’s Strategic role of Facilities Management in Business Performance’ guidance note. We will also be launching a new ‘Global Principles’ paper The principles will focus on the service provided to the customer, which includes: value for money, flexibility of occupation, high quality customer service, an efficient and risk free working environment, within a sustainable environment. These principles will applied to our four main service line guidance notes and these papers will also have had the benefit of our global consultation process.

By introducing authoritative standards and guidance with the benefit of global consultation over the course of 2012, we hope to fuel recognition, understanding and demand throughout both the business and the real estate sector for FMs professionals capable of delivering optimum performance to businesses and real estate assets with world class sustainability credentials. We’re looking forward to enabling change.

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