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Blog: Unifying the Facility Management Industry

The facility management industry is relatively new to the built-environment scene. Until the latter part of the 20th century, the workplace was mostly perceived as a little more than a container that held the tools of productivity. Then, with the advent of modular furniture—cubicles—the mindset shifted, and the workplace itself became a tool that could help achieve organizational goals. In that paradigm shift, the modern facility management industry was born.

Around the world and across industries, technology and globalization are revolutionizing the way work is done and how top talent is located and hired. Facility management is no exception, with digitization, automation and the Internet of Things creating more intelligent maintenance, improved workplaces and better end results. In the right hands, mountains of data empower better decision-making.

But smart buildings require smart people. Too often, buildings are not performing as intended, and investments in the construction of efficient buildings are not seeing expected returns. This problem is often the result of not having the right people in place to manage the day-to-day operation of the facility after it has been built.

This is an excellent opportunity for facility management, but there are challenges.

As the facility management industry has matured, fragmentation within the industry—both in terms of geography and the protocols and standards used—has begun to cost more money, reduce efficiency and undermine the ability to provide truly global solutions.

The need for a unified global facility management industry was one of the reasons that, earlier this year, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) announced a landmark collaboration to unify facility management and to integrate it into the larger built-environment conversation.

Together, the organizations are working to define facility management. This means both building and formalizing the skill sets needed to succeed in the industry and providing the means for facility management professionals to attain and demonstrate those skills. The answers to basic questions should be the same whether they are being asked in Houston or Hong Kong.

The advantage of a unified global facility management industry is more than simply getting everyone on the same page, speaking the same professional language. Elevating facility management also helps to attract talented men and women to the field with the promise of developing skills that are in demand around the world.

A unified facility management industry also allows for an integrated facility management industry.

Too often, design features that look good on the drawing board simply don’t work well in practice. Poorly conceived design that doesn’t consider operation and maintenance costs money and time, and undermines the functionality of the built environment.

The IFMA-RICS partnership provides a framework for facility management to be at the table from the start. The IFMA-RICS collaboration represents the most significant evolution in the history of facility management, providing an unprecedented level of industry support to meet the growing demands of the 25 million facility management practitioners around the world. You can learn more at http://define.fm.

Jed Link is communications manager for the International Facility Management Association.

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