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Agreed Standards

15 November 2006

In his second article on developing standards in FM, Stan Mitchell examines how the first two standards in prEN 15222 family due to be published later this year and adopted across Europe, were developed and what other Standards will follow

AS I EXPLAINED LAST MONTH, European standards are developed through CEN and Technical Committee 348 deals with all things FM related. National Standards Bodies entitled to participate through their membership of CEN and who, as members, are bound to implement these European Standard are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

CEN 348 has now established the first two standards which will belong to the FM family designated prEN 15222. The first two of these 'Terms and Definitions' prEN 15222-1 and 'Guidance on how to prepare Facility Management Agreements' prEN 15222-2 are now complete and will be published late 2006 - early 2007. Subsequent standards will be issued in the sequence of the EN 15222 family of standards.

The CEN approach to the creation of standards is a lengthy but also a very robust process that establishes standards through consensus.
... Standard prEN 15222-1 Facility Management - Terms and Definitions
The purpose of this standard is to try and establish terms that can be understood across all European Countries and bring some common understanding to what we mean by 'facilities', or as is more commonly understood within Europe, 'facility management'.

The content of this standard is as follows:
... Introduction
... Scope
... Normative references
... General terms and definitions
... Facility service structure
... Demand related to Space & Infrastructure
... Demand related to People and Organisation
... Annex A (informative): Facility Management Model
... Annex B (informative): Scope of Facility Management

During the discussions within the working group, there was much debate about the definition of facility(ies) management. Five serious contenders emerged. Which one would you favour? Facility Management is:
1. A business model for the integrated management and delivery of agreed support services (facility services) with the aim to support and improve the effectiveness of the primary activities of an organisation and to create the appropriate environment that is needed to achieve its changing objectives.
2. An integrated process to support and improve the effectiveness of the primary activities of an organisation by the management and delivery of agreed support services for space and infrastructure and for people and organisation.
3. A specialized process of support services, integrated with primary activities, for running a facility and its technical systems.
4. The process that improves and supports organisations effectiveness by establishing, sustaining and adapting the appropriate working environment, services and infrastructure that are needed to achieve its changing objectives.
5. An integrated process to support and improve the effectiveness of the primary activities of an organisation by the management and delivery of agreed support services for the appropriate environment that is needed to achieve its changing objectives.

Number 5 was selected and the agreed wording detailed at the end of this section. A pictorial representation of the standard was developed to show precisely what FM is, called 'the FM model' .

The diagram shows the relationship between the client organisation and the different stakeholder groups within it, and the provider organisation whether internal or external. How the two interface demonstrating where this can take place at strategic, tactical or operational levels and how the creation of the demand and supply sides are articulated via KPI's and SLA's. The final message in the model is that the whole process and relationship can be encapsulated within a Facility Management Agreement which should clearly define all of the relationships and performance criteria.

The final version of the definition was selected after a discussion and vote with regard to whether the 'as agreed' words should be omitted; it was finally agreed that they would remain in.
... Standards prEN 15222-2 Facility Management - Guidance on how to prepare Facility Management Agreements

The purpose of this standard is as a guide to the structure and content of a Facility Management Agreement. Contracts that result from using such guidance are intended to be applicable on a Pan European basis as well as to both the private and public sectors. Establishing a guidance standard for the creation of agreements was driven by the need to ensure that all such agreements are well thought through and form the basis of a robust working relationship where all stakeholders are fully aware of their responsibilities and measurements of success. It is intended that this standard is just as applicable to in-house FM organisations as it is to external providers.

The purpose of this standard is to:
..Promote cross-border client/ FM provider relationships within Europe and to produce a clear interface between the client and the service provider
.. Improve the quality of FM agreements so that disputes and adjustments are minimised
..Assist in the selection and scope of facility services and to identify options for their provision
.. Give assistance in, and advice on, the drafting and negotiation of FM agreements and in specifying arrangements in the case of dispute
.. Identify types of FM agreements and make recommendations for the attribution of rights and obligations between the parties of the agreement
..Simplify comparison between FM agreements.

The standard is a working and guidance document that offers headings which are not exhaustive. It is intended to be used as an 'aide memoir' and for headings and content to be used where appropriate in order to establish a contract between the parties which is robust and thorough.

Scope: It is designed to be applicable to a wide variety of sectors and applications, reflecting the reach and width of FM, in both public and private sectors, and inclusive across the whole life of a project (design, planning, management, management and service), service and subcontract or operations and the potential range of activities associated with any type of working environment (industrial, commercial, administration, military, health etc.). The agreement should be used across all types of services support but would typically be categorised by business to business services; managed by the FM service provider; recurrent type of operations; performance oriented, and mechanisms to determine costs for services which are closely linked to performance.

Whilst most would consider the use of such an agreement to be most applicable to the provision of services via an external provider, a large part of this standard can be applied to cases where the FM service provider is an internal entity within the client's organisation. It can therefore be used to assist in the establishment of an approach based on Services Level Agreements (SLA) within any organisation.

Primary Activities: The standard attempts to highlight the importance of any service provider to develop a clear understanding of the client organisation's primary activities, relevant organisational strategies and organisational structure at its inception and during the period of the agreement.

Types of FM agreements: There is no one type of agreement that is likely to be applicable to all situations and the standard has recognised this. Organisational needs should be considered which in turn will affect the relative responsibility of each party. This will be directly influenced by the strategic, tactical and operational requirements of the service provider. Agreements should take into consideration any investment requirement of the client or service provider and adjust the terms of the agreement accordingly. Consideration should be taken of cost and payment terms. Typically consideration would be given to lump sum payment, unit rate or a cost plus basis.

Performance Based Payments: Where this is to be considered the ability to measure and base any agreement on performance measurement criteria must to be clearly understood from the outset.

Incentives: Worthy of consideration but the mechanism requires to be clearly understood as does the processes against which they may or may not be applicable. Mutuality and benefits within any agreement should be based upon a mutual vision and understanding of the desired outcomes of the client.

Components of the Agreement: The Term should be clearly defined in whatever form. It should be over a sufficient term to enable all parties to benefit. It is generally recognised that for both parties to benefit it should last a minimum of three years. Consideration should be given where possible to the desirability of not imposing a fixed term in the agreement. The agreement should explicitly contain reference to the notice period to which the FM service provider will be subject under the agreement. Where the FM service provider is to take responsibility for the delivery of client procured services this needs to be carefully considered. If applicable, the scope of any agent related activity should be clearly defined. The extent of sub-contracting and the type of facilities services that are allowed, or not allowed to be subcontracted, should be defined in the agreement together with any specific conditions.

Information: At the outset of an agreement the responsibilities for designing, updating and reporting of management information should be agreed. Equally that all stakeholders affected by the agreement are informed of the terms and responsibilities contained within it. The extent of reporting, validation, testing, financial reconciliation and auditing should be outlined in the agreement. Any requirement for the FM service provider to support audits and qualitative testing should also be considered.

Flexibility: Always a key ingredient, the degree of flexibility included within the scope of any agreement should be a product of the duration, extent of change anticipated and the degree of cost certainty required by the client. Where it is anticipated that the scope of the change will impact all stakeholders, the method for handling the impact on profitability, mobilisation, redundancy and unrecoverable costs should be carefully considered.

Performance: The agreement should define the output results' requirements (e.g. key performance indicators, service levels) and constraints, not detailed descriptions of tasks to be fulfilled. It is important to let the FM service provider find the most effective way to achieve the service levels required. However, it is important for the client to identify the process and methodology to be used for measuring the output from each facility service as part of the agreement and specify the validation and testing criteria where appropriate.

Continuous Improvement: The agreement should consider the methodology by which continuous improvement, best practice and innovation are initiated or developed and mutual benefit is agreed and apportioned.

Preparation and Implementation of Agreements: The main phases that should be considered include a client preparation phase; a prequalification and selection phase; tender/negotiation phase; an agreement preparation phase and finally; a signature phase. The implementation of any agreement should consist of a mobilisation phase; a validation phase and an operational phase.

The standard also contains various tables as appendices that provide examples of how each of the above headings might be interpretated in real terms and also suggested service level agreement categories and measures. It should be stated however, that these are designed to serve as a descriptive aid rather than a prescriptive answer.

This is an ambitious programme planned to lift the profile as well as encourage consistency at an international level. Once the meeting of CEN 348 in September voted for these two standards, it considered future standards. At a previous meeting a review was carried out into what new standards were considered to be appropriate going forward. From a list of 17 suggestions four were considered priority - these were chosen as pre-cursers to an eventual benchmarking standard. (see panel left)

For the practicing FM to gain the recognition and professional standing to which many aspire, we must do so on a much broader perspective than the UK alone. In order to build upon the work that has been done with the European Standards it is likely that this will progress to International level. Whether we like it or not we are all part of a wider, and International, community and this statement certainly applies to the emerging FM sector. One of the key differentiators between the emerging FM profession and those slightly longer established professional disciplines associated with the built environment is our almost complete lack of recognised standards. If we truly do aspire to be recognised as a profession then we must address this at every level otherwise we will soon be yesterday's fad.

Standards are not created to excite; they simply set a datum to which we as professional FMs should be measured and form the basis with which we can promote our profession to government, industry and commerce. So should you be excited about standards probably not! But you should be interested in them if you have a real interest in FM, your job and your career. Standards, whether we like them or not, establish benchmarks which you can strive to achieve or build upon; they provide criteria against which you can compare and measure; they communicate 'best practice' and they assist in the broadening of awareness; they are fundamental in establishing a professional discipline; they communicate to commerce, industry and government that they represent a discipline that matters.

The creation of standards in FM deserves a careful and considered approach to ensure that our profession develops and grows in a structured manner, without inhibiting dynamic innovation, and to allow those that will come after us to understand and hopefully improve on the benchmarks that we set. The future of FM is clear; without recognised and agreed standards we will not succeed as a professional discipline. It is our duty to ourselves, our profession and to future FMs to create and maintain a profession that is recognised worldwide for its standard of service.

Four new Standards planned
Quality/Service levels (SL) / KPIs: Guidance on how to prepare SLAs and KPIs and explain how they contribute to reach quality objectives, and how the quality management methods contribute to the interaction between primary activities processes and FM processes.

Classification/cost categories/ Life Cycle Costing (LCC) of building and taxonomy (taxonomy: the science of classifying living things): Develop a common language for all professionals to achieve faster, transparent and comparable specifications and enable different structures linked together and be compatible. It will be the basis for development of tools and systems necessary for creating interfaces between systems and of performance indicators and benchmarking.

Processes (FM): A generic standard for processes is necessary to underpin future standards. Will support the explanation of the FM Model (strategic/tactical/operational), and clarify the distinction between process and service.

Measurement of space: What is a meaningful concept for floor area in offices in Europe and how should such floor area be measured taking into consideration that such a concept should facilitate benchmarking of cost indicators? Develop a European standard in terms of accuracy, protocol and usage of space in offices, to facilitate benchmarking of facility costs as defined in CEN/TC 348.

Stan Mitchell CEO of Key Facilities Management ( He is a Past Chairman of the BIFM and Convenor of WG2 within the CEN348 Technical Committee which established the European Standard for Facilities Management Agreements. He is currently Chairman of the BSI Facilities Management committee. He is Chairman of Global FM.

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