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The future of FM is here

03 October 2018

Steve Roots, chairman of the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) looks at the latest trends and developments in facilities management (FM) and how the sector is adapting to new challenges

The industry and some of the largest spending government departments were rocked when, on the 15th January 2018, Carillion announced that the organisation was to go into liquidation after the government failed to guarantee the £1.5bn of debt it had accumulated.

Carillion’s demise brought to many an understanding of how entwined facilities management (FM) is to the running of public services and supporting private businesses. Questions began to be asked on whether “supersized” FM providers (such as Carillion but also the likes of Mitie who were also in the news regarding their financial performance) were the right vehicles for providing cleaning, maintenance and security (as well as many other services) under one umbrella to a prison, hospital or school?  

Having worked in the industry since the end of the early 1990's recession I’ve seen the service delivery model trend shift from insourcing to various types of outsourcing; such as individual let contracts; service bundling into hard and soft FM; Total Facilities Management (TFM) & Integrated FM and now, due to the collapse of Carillion, certain sectors of the political spectrum have been calling for insourcing to be made the service delivery model of choice. 

In my experience there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach and each user organisation has different needs and drivers that will shape the optimum model for its FM delivery. The industry is also seeing this change in mindset with the new opportunities that are coming to market. The introduction of the FM Marketplace by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has given a vehicle for SME’s to bid for contracts that were previously rolled into a single TFM contract and has given service buyers the ability to select the most appropriate service delivery model for their organisation. But now there has to be a shift in moving away from lowest cost where organisations risk delivering services for percentage points (or at worst negative) profit margins – a significant contributing factor to Carillion’s demise – to one where FM services can add value to the businesses they serve and where the benefits of taking a workplace focused approach starts to show where FM can really make a difference.

All change at BIFM

Following publication of The Workplace Advantage report by The Stoddart Review (Dec 2016) and other publications including the RICS/IFMA ‘Raising the Bar’ series (2012-2017), it seemed clear that the desire and potential for FM to enable organisational success was as strong as ever, yet challenges old and new often prevented this from being realised. 

BIFM recognised that the term ‘workplace’ had started to become commonplace, used far and wide for different ends but likely to mean different things to different people. We wanted to consider, from our own starting point, what workplace might mean for FM and whether it provided an opportunity for the profession to think and act differently. This research supported our manifesto for change which was launched on 1st March 2018 and challenged the industry to start thinking differently about our approach. On 5th July 2018, the membership passed a special resolution at our AGM in Manchester to change our name to the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) recognising the need for FM to be the facilitator of the workplace.  

We recognise that some see FM as managing the workplace; however the research we have carried out (our research insights can be found at www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/about/bifmchange) strongly suggest that FM is just one of the factors of the workplace along with IT and HR.

IWFM will be the professional body for the facilities and workplace profession – working to advance the profession, representing those who contribute to workplace productivity and to operating and optimising our built environment.  

The Institute has a role in helping to re-set expectations and to forge ahead with making workplace and facilities management a career of choice for the coming generation. This also means that as an organisation we need to promote the professional pathway for those entering the industry and wanting to be recognised in their own right as workplace or facilities managers rather than as a subset of another profession.  

The mandate given to us by the membership means we can really grasp the opportunity that is presented by the leading-edge associations of workplace to reposition what facilities managers do.