Facility management

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Facility management (or facilities management or FM) is a nationally and internationally recognized management profession and academic discipline.

Professional FM as an interdisciplinary business function has the objective to coordinate demand and supply of facilities and services within public and private organizations. The term “Facility” (pl. facilities) means something that is built, installed or established to serve a purpose (IFMA 1998), which is in general every “Tangible asset that supports an organization” (IFMA, EN-15221-1, 2016). Examples are real estate property, buildings, technical infrastructure (HVAC), lighting, transportation, IT-services, furniture, and other user specific equipment and appliances. Facilities and services management are categorized into two groups. The first is referring to the physical built environment with focus on (work-) space and (building-) infrastructure. The second is supporting the people and the organization related to work psychology and occupational physiology. That’s why FM has been introduced as integrating multiple sciences “FM is the practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people and work of the organization. It integrates the principles of business administration, architecture and the behavioral and engineering sciences.” (IFMA 1998)

Facility Management has been recognized as academic discipline since the 1990. Initial FM research work in Europe started within universities in the UK, the Netherlands, and the Nordic Countries, where professors and scientists founded research centers and started to establish education on Bachelor-, Master- and PhD- level. Examples for the first FM research centers in Europe are the: Centre for Facilities management (CFM) founded 1990 in Glasgow, Center for People and buildings, at the Delft University of Technology, metamorphose, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In 2010 Professor Antje Junghans (Chairman EUROFM Research group 2010–2012) conducted a survey with active involvement of researchers and professors from 9 countries and 17 universities on behalf of the European Facility Management research group (Junghans, 2012). Today 50 universities and research institutions are represented in EUROFM.[1] The German Facility Management Association (GEFMA) has certified 16 FM study programs and courses at universities and universities of applied sciences in Germany [2]

FM represents a wider range of activities than just business services and these are referred to as non-core functions. They vary from one business sector to another. In a 2009 Global Job Task Analysis the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) identified the core competencies of facility management as:

The European standards for facilities management defines facilities management as "the integration of processes within an organization to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities."

According to European standard EN15221-1, the scope of FM is 'Space & Infrastructure' (such as planning, design, workplace, construction, lease, occupancy, maintenance, furniture and cleaning) and 'People & Organization' (such as catering, ICT, HR, accounting, marketing, hospitality).

The International Organization for Standardization, has published international standards facilities management.[3]

FM is subject to continuous innovation and development, under pressure to reduce costs and to add value to the core business of the public or private sector client organisation.[4]

Facility management is supported with training and professional qualifications often co-ordinated by FM institutes or associations, and a limited number of formal degree programs exist at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Role of the facilities manager[edit]

Facilities managers (FMs) operate across business functions.

The number one priority of an FM is keeping people alive and safe.

Facility managers have to operate at two levels:

  • Strategically-tactically: helping clients, customers and end-users understand the potential impact of their decisions on the provision of space, services, cost and business risk.
  • Operationally: ensuring corporate and re and cost effective environment for the occupants to function.

This is accomplished by managing:

Health and safety[edit]

The FM department in an organization is required to control and manage many safety related issues. Failure to do so may lead to injury, loss of business, prosecution and insurance claims. The confidence of customers and investors in the business may also be affected by adverse publicity from safety lapses.

Fire safety[edit]

The threat from fire carries one of the highest risk to loss of life, and the potential to damage or shut down a business. The facilities management department will have in place maintenance, inspection and testing for all of the fire safety equipment and systems, keeping records and certificates of compliance.


Protection of employees and the business often comes under the control of the facilities management department, in particular the maintenance of security hardware. Manned guarding may be under the control of a separate department.

Maintenance, testing and inspections[edit]

Maintenance, testing and inspection schedules are required to ensure that the facility is operating safely and efficiently, to maximize the life of equipment and reduce the risk of failure. Statutory obligations must also be met. The work is planned, often using a computer-aided facility management system.


Cleaning operations are often undertaken out of business hours, but provision may be made during times of occupations for the cleaning of toilets, replenishing consumables (such as toilet rolls, soap) plus litter picking and reactive response. Cleaning is scheduled as a series of periodic (daily, weekly, monthly) tasks.

The training and certification of cleaning operatives is increasingly a factor in the award of contracts to cleaning services providers.


The facilities management department has responsibilities for the day-to-day running of the building, these tasks may be outsourced or carried out by directly employed staff. This is a policy issue, but due to the immediacy of the response required in many of the activities involved the facilities manager will often require daily reports or an escalation procedure.

Some issues require more than just periodic maintenance, for example those that can stop or hamper the productivity of the business or that have safety implications. Many of these are managed by the facilities management "help desk" that staff are able to be contacted either by telephone or email. The response to help desk calls are prioritized but may be as simple as too hot or too cold, lights not working, photocopier jammed, coffee spills, or vending machine problems.

Help desks may be used to book meeting rooms, car parking spaces and many other services, but this often depends on how the facilities department is organized. Facilities may be split into two sections, often referred to as "soft" services such as reception and post room, and "hard" services, such as the mechanical, fire and electrical services.

Business continuity planning[edit]

All organizations should have a continuity plan so that in the event of a fire or major failure the business can recover quickly. In large organizations it may be that the staff move to another site that has been set up to model the existing operation. The facilities management department would be one of the key players should it be necessary to move the business to a recovery site.

Space allocation and changes[edit]

In many organizations, office layouts are subject to frequent changes. This process is referred to as churn, and the percentage of the staff moved during a year is known as the churn rate. These moves are normally planned by the facilities management department using computer-aided design. In addition to meeting the needs of the business, compliance with statutory requirements related to office layouts include:

  • the minimum amount of space to be provided per staff member
  • fire safety arrangements
  • lighting levels
  • signage
  • ventilation
  • temperature control
  • welfare arrangements such as toilets and drinking water

Consideration may also be given to vending, catering or a place where staff can make a drink and take a break from their desk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.eurofm.org/index.php/become-a-member/members-directory/
  2. ^ http://www.gefma.de/studiengaenge.html
  3. ^ "ISO – ISO Standards – ISO/TC 267 – Facilities management". www.iso.org. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  4. ^ Mudrak, T., Wagenberg, A.V. and Wubben, E. (2004), "Assessing the innovative ability of FM teams: a review", Facilities, Vol. 22 Nos 11/12, pp. 290–5.