As the newest professional discipline in business and real-estate sectors, facilities management bespeaks a clear need for organizations to improve their compliance and operational efficiencies. Professional facilities management, as an interdisciplinary business function, aims to coordinate the demand and supply of facilities and services within public and private organizations. Facilities management refers to a broad range of activities, such as building services management, environmental issues, workspace management, procurement, financial management, etc.

While facilities management is currently one of the fastest-growing professional and operational disciplines worldwide, it suffers from a general lack of knowledge and awareness; thus a framework that articulates “what it is” would be extremely beneficial to emerging markets. Work on the first two International Standards has finished and the forthcoming publication of ISO 41011, Facilities management – Vocabulary, and ISO 41012, Facilities management – Guidance on strategic sourcing and the development of agreements, should correct the situation. The new management system standard ISO 41001, Facilities management – Management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, is currently under development and will further increase awareness and support the development, implementation and maintenance of effective facilities management regimes in all sectors of industry and commerce worldwide.

A common language for facilities management

In praise of the forthcoming standard, Stanley Mitchell, Chair of ISO/TC 267, the technical committee developing the standard, said: “ISO 41001 will help to clarify the ‘what’ as well as the ‘why’ facilities management is a strategically important discipline to all organizations in the management, operation and maintenance of the workplace, its assets and operational efficiencies.”

The need for a standard against which a facilities management organization can be assessed and measured has been acutely felt the world over and is the momentum behind the future ISO management system standard (MSS).

Facilities management, by its very nature, does not mean the same thing globally, nationally or even within different types of organizations. The capabilities of the supply side have evolved in different ways in different countries, as has the quality of service they provide. Client expectations have equally evolved from a local to a national perspective, and are now becoming globally much more consistent. Delivery methodologies continue to develop at their own pace from the ground up in each country.

However, globally capable service providers now exist, and corporations that operate internationally are increasingly seeking more consistent delivery and costing of support services through facility management techniques.

ISO 41001 is about recognizing the scope of responsibilities and creating a management structure and resource appropriate to the needs of the organization. Its main focus is to provide a framework and criteria against which facilities management teams can be measured as being “fit for purpose” for the organizations that they serve.

The future standard will enable a continuity of language and set a benchmark in terms of the management approach, while providing emerging markets with a template on which to build and develop a facilities management regime.

“The development of such a standard is a first for the discipline and something that is generating a fair degree of interest internationally,” explained Mitchell. “ISO/TC 267 has been able to work together to form strong consensus across the 30+ countries that are currently members, which is globally relevant for the facilities management industry.”

Good facilities management for efficient organizations

Facilities management is a professional discipline that touches every organization, large and small. As such, it has a significant influence on how efficiently companies function in a number of areas.

In financial terms, facilities management constitutes the second-highest cost for any organization with few exceptions and can, where relevant, make a considerable contribution to the bottom line on an ongoing basis.

In efficiency terms, facilities management has responsibility for the management, operation and maintenance of business assets, thus influencing their life cost and usability.

In compliance terms, facilities management is responsible for the health, safety and building management ensuring the organization fulfils its obligations to those who use the workspace and are likely to be affected by its operations.

In environmental and sustainability terms, facilities management is responsible for operations in the workplace as well as the impact that its operations have on the local and overall environment.

ISO 41001 will enable the supply side of organizations to acquire certification as a market differentiator and help private- and public-sector organizations set the benchmarks they expect their supply partners to adhere to. This, ultimately, will be to the advantage of all parties.

ISO 41001, Facilities management – Management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, is being developed by ISO/TC 267, Facility management, whose secretariat is held by BSI, the ISO member for the United Kingdom. Its publication is expected for 2018.