International Facility Management

By Kathy O. Roper

Kathy O. Roper discusses the growing field of Facility Management and charts how it has evolved over the last 25 years to become a vital component of any business. She details how organizations with a good FM department benefit from increased productivity and loyalty from worers – as well as improved processes and costs.

A critical component of business today, facility management (FM) is defined as the “Integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities.”1 Similarly, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) defines FM as “a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.2 As noted in the recently published book, International Facility Management, although still considered a relatively new profession since its start in the late 1970s, FM today is undergoing dramatic change in its nature and value, causing FM to become more strategic and more valued as important partners in business decision-making and support.3

No longer do most facility organizations only respond to orders to resolve problems within facilities, but facility management professionals have moved “from the boiler room to the boardroom,” aiding strategic location planning, determining optimum business support systems, reducing operational costs, and helping to attract and retain the best and brightest employees in a productive and sustainable environment. The value has shifted from an almost exclusive focus on cost reduction to a more holistic viewpoint on adding productivity and support to enable the organization to operate at maximum efficiency. The decision points today are vastly different from even ten years ago, with mobility, distributed work styles and ever increasing pressures on businesses to provide options for employees to gain life balance. FM is the second largest expense in most organizations, following employee salaries/benefits. Therefore, FM has major impacts on costs and also strong influence on the productivity of those salaried employees, making FM professionals valuable contributors to any organization’s senior management team. Successful organizations are focusing on life cycle costs and include non-financial metrics like worker satisfaction and productivity in evaluations of overall facility success.

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