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Chartered FM?

15 March 2007

Working together, the FMA and Chartered Management Institute have enabled FMs to achieve ‘Chartered’ status and be on a par with other built environment professionals. Frank Booty reports on the impact this development will have on ambitious young FMs

LAST MONTH, THE FACILITIES MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION and the Chartered Management Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) bringing ‘Chartered’ status within reach of facilities managers with a management background. The MOU signing is the culmination of what has been a long ongoing debate principally driven by the FMA’s Young Managers Forum. Their key concern has been credibility for FMs when dealing with their peers from the engineering and surveying professions whose qualifications and skills have long enjoyed Chartered status.

CMI was awarded its Royal Charter in 2002, changing its name from the Institute of Management which had been created 10 years previously from a merger between the British Institute of Management and the Institute of Industrial Managers. With over 74,000 members today, CMI is regarded as the leading organisation for professional management in the UK. FMA Director General, Maurice Tidy, and Chairman, Gareth Hollyman, joined CMI Chief Executive, Mary Chapman, and Director of Standards & Qualifications, Neil Southern, in signing the MOU on February 6th. Tidy said, “The MOU is a product of the need being expressed by the FMA's Young Managers Forum and the Association's corporate members to ensure effective and accredited training for FMs culminating in professional recognition.”

At a meeting last year, FMA members from ISS Coflex, Jones Lang LaSalle, Taylor Woodrow, Keir Facilities Management, Bailey Maintenance and TNT Managed Services and others, discussed how they could utilise such a service to map and accredit their in-house training programmes. Support was widespread and further negotiations with CMI took place, leading to this industry ‘first’.

As Tidy and Hollyman explained, “We know through the Young Managers Forum of the need to progress and to offer recognition of signs that these are competent facilities managers. A lot of FM companies have mature internal management development programmes – but how do you define that with no external benchmark? There’s a core demand for external recognition. It was also imperative to have something that is visible and worthwhile to obtain.”

FM is often described as 80 per cent management skill and 20 per cent technical expertise. The MOU will make chartered status open to FM practitioners with degree level qualifications in management - an MBA, BA degree in business studies or NVQ level 4 in management plus at least three years of management experience.

“Candidates will need to complete 20 to 30 hours in a two stage process comprising on-line submissions and a panel interview,” said Southern. “The on-line element looks at what CPD (continuing professional development) work the manager has undertaken and the impacts the manager has made to demonstrate how he/she has applied management skills to achieve a significant impact in their organisation.

Additionally, there is a 360-degree questionnaire – an evaluation by those who you work with such as superiors, juniors and peers to see how the manager demonstrates the skills the CMI requires for Chartered Manager designation. “The panel interview lasts about 45 minutes and begins with a 10 minute presentation by the candidate to reinforce and confirm the impacts described in the on-line submission, and also to evaluate communications skills,” explained Southern. “The panel will comprise a combination of at least one qualified assessor and senior managers. There will be a repeat assessment requirement every three years and this will include a repeat impact submission.

CPD records have to be submitted annually.” Costs currently are £122 for annual subscription to CMI and £480 to proceed through the Chartered Manager programme. A number of Young Managers Forum members are already signed up to the CMI programme and are expected to have achieved chartered status within months.

The first facilities manager to progress the route is Victoria Bradley of ISS Coflex. “I’m in contact with my distance support advisor and expect to get my draft Business Impact paperwork to her before March – it needs to be completed by 9th March. Due to my recent MBAI am exempt from the CPD part of the process. Finally, in June I will be subject to a panel review of my experiences and then they'll decide if I am suitably qualified to become a Chartered Manager.”

“Given the number of great people who could have been chosen, I feel pretty honoured to have been picked to be one of the first to go through the CMgr process in conjunction with the FMA and the CMI,” said Bradley. “It's great to see that we're promoting Chartership within the industry even if it isn't through the BIFM currently.

“In order to be taken seriously alongside our Chartered colleagues in surveying, engineering and project management, amongst others, Ibelieve we need an industry standard to demonstrate that our level of expertise is just as high,” continued Bradley. “Chartership will provide a way for people in the industry to back up their practical experience with an academic standard which will be recognised both inside and outside the FM industry. In addition, having this route towards Chartership will hopefully encourage more ‘bright young things’ to enter our industry and see it as a viable career path.

“The FMA is extremely enlightened when it comes to what we ‘youngsters’ want from an organisation which is why it set up the Young Managers Forum. The FMA seems to understand what's important to us and has really taken on board our determination to make FM a well respected and well understood industry peopled by intelligent, keen and ambitious individuals.”

Commenting on the FMA’s initiative with the CMI, Valerie Everitt, Director of Professional Standards & Education, BIFM, said, “CMI offers a well recognised route to Chartered status for managers in many disciplines. Members of BIFM and of other organisations may choose this route if they have the relevant qualifications and experience and it suits their ambitions. After extensive consultation with key stakeholders in 2006, the BIFM Board has recently approved the Institute's own medium-term strategy for education, confirming an inclusive approach to qualifications development and pathways into FM. This programme supports the Institute's prime objective of providing quality, managed and, where appropriate, branded educational products for life-long learning.”

She continued, “The BIFM Qualification, set at first degree level, continues to offer a dedicated route for FM professionals wishing to gain industry recognition of their knowledge and experience across the wide range of BIFM competences. Although not in the current business plan, Chartered status remains on the BIFM Board's agenda and the issue will be regularly revisited.”

The Chartered Manager initiative is not just for FMA members but is open to all FMs with a business degree and relevant experience who can make a commitment to the CMI programme.
● Frank Booty is a freelance writer


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