Back to our roots

Tim Leech, vice president of AMC Facilities Management Service, expresses his views on the FM profession.

COMMENT, Facilities Management

Recently, the facilities management industry has heard a lot about the need for facilities management professionals to be involved as early as possible in projects.

About how they can add value to the design process, improve the future operational effectiveness and efficiencies of these projects.

But let's not forget that this is not the industry's main business. There are other highly qualified professionals who can design, build and engineer.

FM can add value at this stage, but it can also do this in many other areas.

As FM professionals, we must not lose sight of what we do - service delivery, and one that is done to many different environments and covers many different skills, trades and professions.

What's also important to remember is that FM doesn't start and stop in the UAE. Mega and complex projects, as well as the more usual residential, industrial, educational and health projects, have existed throughout the region for many years.

There are millions and millions of square feet of existing developments and facilities, with FM services being delivered in different ways. These opportunities are not always an easy challenge, but they are ones we have to take on and demonstrate the real value of FM.

A lot of focus is placed on the new builds with older buildings often being forgotten about. But the industry has to take on the challenges existing developments bring and be creative in its approach, making sure it is capable of delivering service based solutions that will give both internal and external customers, value for money.

With existing facilities and those that are beyond the design change demanding a best value solution, experience proves that this is best done through a total and integrated approach to FM.

This will enable FM companies to consider the requirements of many different services, and design a management structure and planned delivery methodology that will offer more opportunities for improvement. Not only in operational effectiveness and efficiency, but also the consequential financial improvements.

At the same time, it's important to remember that we are in the Middle East and not in FM savvy places like Europe and the USA, where the culture and certain economic and social drivers are different.

These differences should not be a barrier to stop the industry from adding value. They should enable the industry to showcase its talent and prove that the region does see the value of quality and consistent service.

Facilities management should embrace the differences, the challenges, the constraints and the opportunities that are different to the environments many of the industry grew up in.

This will allow the industry to show how the importance of careful planning can have a positive impact on a company's objectives. It's a chance for FM companies and professionals to look after the operation of a building to enable a company to focus on its core business.

It is incumbent on us all to make the effort to promote FM as a business, as well as a profession. One that is integral to the success not only of companies but of the region.

FM isn't a theory. Ultimately, its importance and status in the region will improve when enough companies are actually delivering the quality and total service that is talked about.

Whatever best practice might be followed and implemented in other countries and continents, here, the industry has to balance it with regional. What works in Europe or other countries might not work in this region's 50 degree heat and sand storms. Another reason it might not work is the remote areas of the Middle East, for example Saudi Arabia, where there are other considerations to think about like labour, supply chain management, cultures, language and security. This has an impact on the ability to then deliver quality and total FM, all day every day.

As highlighted and as facilities management professionals are well aware, this is a challenging region. But it's also one that is so exciting for professional FMs that are leading the charge for change and improvement.

Whilst we have to recognise the need for competition and protection of corporate knowledge, isn't it also true that the future success of FM across the region resides with us all? Delivery of integrated, quality and value adding services is what we are about, so lets work together to achieve this.

It's better that we share knowledge and experiences to move the profession forward than get too hung up in our own little worlds and risk FM reverting to O&M and cleaning and catering and landscaping and security...

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