RICS global research charts ways for FMs to prove strategic worth

RICS global research finds new steps to help FMs 'raise the bar'

Facilities managers across the globe need to prove the value of FM to board level directors and establish their role as a strategic and essential business function. A new global RICS Research report Raising the Bar: City Roundtables (Phase II), launched in Washington DC this week, calls for innovative new dimensions of measurement to prove FM’s effectiveness and its impact on productivity and profitability. Authored by Occupiers Journal Ltd, the report builds on findings from RICS’ 2012 research Raising the Bar: Enhancing the Strategic Role of Facilities Management (Phase I), which provided robust evidence for high-performing organisations to introduce FM as a strategic management discipline. The research also provided recommendations to support leading FM practitioners in becoming more strategic.

The Raising the Bar: City Roundtables (Phase II) investigates the specific challenges faced by FM, considering previous recommendations and surveying FM professionals across six continents and 12 economically different cities, including London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and São Paolo, where they identified “A Dozen Challenges” to the profession answered by “A Dozen Recommendations” to the FM market.

Interviews were conducted with small focus groups of facilities managers in 12 cities across the globe representing economically diverse regions. Attendees shared their experiences and opinions on the difficulties faced by FM management and the discipline as a whole, the methods appropriate to value FM performance in line with business frameworks and the initiatives FM must take to adopt a more strategic orientation.

The discussions reflected overwhelmingly similar experiences across geographies. Strong concerns were raised around the profession’s poor image in the corporate sector, the excessive time spent on operational activities, management’s failure to adopt the language of business and communicate the discipline’s value, a poor alignment with other departments and the need for strategic leadership.

Recommendations from the report highlighted the need for FM professionals to work with business leaders to continue to develop qualified facilities managers, define professional standards, and encourage organisations to ‘think and act’ strategically.

Explains Jim Ware, Occupiers Journal: “Taking the findings of our Raising the Bar study, published in Nov 2012, around the world, has generated many new insights. For example, we found that ‘Facilities Management’ is a term that is now understood in most business regions of the world.

“In addition, we learned that the findings from Raising the Bar are broadly applicable everywhere and we found fewer differences in FM practice from one region to another than we expected. Nevertheless, it is also clear that the basic role of facilities management is understood differently in different industries and at different levels in most organisations.

“This, then is one of the major challenges for the Facilities Management profession; to recognise these differences, and to build a profile of ‘strategic facilities management’ for highly educated management professionals. There is clearly much more work for us to do in order to get there.”

The research proves that there can often be too many layers between senior FM staff and the CEO. Change cannot be made until FM is taken seriously at board level and to achieve this the industry must raise its profile with business leaders.

Commented Paul Carder, Managing Director at Occupiers Journal Ltd: “Practitioners and businesses are telling us that the time has come for facilities management to embrace a strategic approach. Today, for instance, the average head of facilities spends over fifty percent of his or her time on day-to-day issues and less than twenty-one percent of their time on strategy and planning. This needs to change for FM to fully realise its potential.